by Marge Simon
They barred the library doors today. Men in uniform stand patrol, armed and ready. Their lantern jaws are set firm, lips in a straight line. Stoic women, also armed, jog up and down the block, buttocks moving like pistons. Someone dashes from a building, a hand-held reader clutched close. Shots are fired; I don't stay to find out more.
I've packed the car with books, little room for else. It is my car, his gift to buy my silence, to make up for the bruises real and otherwise; never marry a politician who has no use for literature, has no use for a wife that does.
I am reminded of a poem fragment, its author's name lost to time:
"Eagles have left their nests to vultures.
The barren palm trees whimper for their loss
there are ceaseless storms, mud is everywhere
while two-legged insects multiply unchecked."
Perhaps it was Vonnegut. Long dead and buried now, his books banned after the last election. Just as well he never saw his warnings come to this.
The car radio plays Ibsen, bassoons herald the trolls. I roll down the window, taking a deep breath to calm my racing heart. I'm aware of Pyr Gynt's Hall of the Mountain King, foreboding notes of the oboe, a palpable stench of fear.
Am I leaving that, or taking it with me...?
This story was first published on Thursday, January 28th, 2016