Pictures in the Fire

Going through a box of my old childrens books. Yes, I have kept some of my favorite childrens books. For why, I’m not sure. I am sentimental about books. And I honestly haven’t laid eyes on them for quite some time. It’s weird, seeing them with 30 year old eyes. They nibble at my heart and I smile, handle them carefully, despite grubby, child fingerprints and worn pages. And then I come to one I know I have seen, but have no memory of. A vague cover. Just a painting of a young girl, staring into the fire. A simple title across the top. The book feels strange. It, in fact, isn’t even mine. There is an inscription on the front cover for my brother. And as I flip through the sparse pages, there are various paintings, next to words. A brief scan of the text tells me this isn’t a childrens book. I flip back to the front cover, as there is nothing on the back, to find the story behind this book. The text is the last will and testament of a man who died a pauper. It was found in his coat pocket. In it he bequeaths humanity all the beauty and wonder of the world. And for a few moments after I had finished reading it, I couldn’t hear my heartbeat, because it had stopped. It was absolutely, poetically beautiful. In a way, my eyes might not have understood had they been younger. I have not experienced something so soul shakingly beautiful in a long time…