It took us a couple of days to move all my stuff to Poe’s house, but we were almost done. I was still organising my books when Poe disturbed me again.
‘Are you still organizing? Why didn’t you just leave it on colour? It looked nice.’
‘I know… It looks very pretty if you organize it on colour, but it’s not very handy. I don’t know all the colours of every title. So I decided to just go by alphabet, nice and simple. Or should I go back to colour?’ I was already rearranging when Poe stopped me.
‘It’s enough, Polly. Leave the books alone.’
‘But I’m not done yet.’
He dragged me out of the big library into one of many rooms. It was a large room with high ceilings and big windows. It was empty besides two chairs and a side table. We sat down on the big chairs and Poe started looking outside the window.
‘I’m bored, Polly.’
‘There are still boxes to unpack, you know…’
He gave me an angry look and continued staring outside.
‘Are you ok, Poe?’
‘I don’t know. Not really. I feel weird being here for so long.’
‘How do you mean?’
‘Well, the last time I was home for more than a day was the day my parents died. After that I’ve been in books as much as I could.’
‘You want to go somewhere?’ Poe nodded and I grabbed his hand. ‘Follow me!’
We found ourselves in a big dome during night time. There was a small light visible in a room across from us.
‘Where are we?’ Poe asked.
‘Did you ever read Slaughterhouse five?’
Without answering me, Poe walked into the room with the light.
‘Excuse me!’ I heard a female voice scream.
Poe walked out of the room again with a red face.
‘Why didn’t you tell me there were naked people around?’
‘You didn’t give me any time.’ His anger seemed to have subsided and when I looked back to the doorway there were two naked people staring back at me.
‘Poe, I would like you to meet Billy Pilgrim and Montana Wildhack. This is Poe and I’m Polly. We come from earth.’
‘Billy? Do you know these people?’
‘No, I really don’t…’
‘I’m very sorry to disturb you like this. But I’m here because of your ability to see time. I was wondering if we could borrow it for a bit?’ They all looked at me like I was crazy, so I sighed.
‘Billy, would you mind explaining us how you see time?’
He looked at me with distrust and I knew he didn’t want to explain anything. So I gave him a pleading look and eventually he complied.
‘I see time laid out before me. I know what happened, what’s happening and what is going to happen. Everything that happens is inevitable. It will happen every time. Everything you do is because the moment is structured in such a way. Everything is laid out before us, there is nothing we can change about our lives, you just can’t see it.’
‘So you’re saying there is no free will?’ Poe asked.
‘The Tralfamadorians told me they have visited many worlds and only ours speaks of free will.’
‘Why is this man talking in riddles?’ Poe asked me.
‘You’ll understand. Thank you, Billy.’ I smiled and got a small smile back at my surprise. ‘I’m sorry to do this with books again, Poe. But I thought this would be a nice way of telling me about your past and we might find some things about our future.’
‘But I still don’t get it.’
‘Within this book we can see time like Billy and the Tralfamadorians do.’
‘I promise you will understand everything later. Can we just go?’
Poe nodded and turned around. He started examining the dome and tried not to look at the naked body of Montana, or at least, he tried to hide it.
‘Excuse me, Polly was it?’ Montana tapped my shoulder. ‘Can you explain how you got here? Did the Tralfamadorians also take you here?’
‘No, actually. Poe and I have a way of travelling ourselves. I guess it’s like Billy’s, but just a bit different.’
‘How is it different?’ Billy asked.
‘We travel through books.’ I answered. I could already feel all he questions coming and explaining someone that they lived in a book wasn’t easy.
‘Polly? Who are those creatures?’
The dome was slowly turning to daytime and small, green creatures with only one eye appeared at the outside of it.
‘That will be the Tralfamadorians. I’m very sorry, but we have to go now. We’ll come back some other time and explain.’ I said to Billy and Montana while signing Poe to follow me. This time he grabbed my arm and we vanished with a poof.
‘What the hell was that, Polly?’ We were back at his house, sitting in the same room.
‘Those were the Tralfam-’
‘Yes, you’ve said that many times now. But what are those Tralfamadonkeys? They looked like aliens!’
‘Are they real?’
‘They are in Slaughterhouse five.’
We both sighed and I put my feet up on the side table.
‘So why have we gone home?’
‘We haven’t.’ I wanted to explain, but there was no time. We heard two voices coming from the hallway and I saw Poe’s face light up. He ran out on the hallway where I could hear them talk.
‘Mom! Dad! How did you get here?’
‘How do you mean? You saw us half an hour ago at the dinner table. Aren’t we allowed to leave the dining room?’
‘Off course you are, but…’ He knew what was going on. I heard his mom give him a kiss and his dad gave him a pat on the shoulder and they walked on through the big hallway.
‘We went back in time. It’s two years ago. Why did you take me here?’
‘You took us here. I guess you were thinking about this moment.’
‘I like to think of this day sometimes. I don’t know why. It was a normal day, nothing special happened, but I was happy.’ Poe fell back into his chair. ‘I want to go the moment my parents die.’
‘So it goes.’ And we travelled to the day his parents died.
‘What did you just say?’
‘Sorry, that’s what the Tralfamadorians say when someone dies.’
‘That seems uncaring…’
‘It really isn’t. When someone dies, they know that that person is still alive in all those other moments of his life. And as they can travel back and forth to those moments, death is only temporary.’
‘Those Tralfamadorians are strange people…’
I laughed and we walked next to a road going up to the house.
‘Are you sure you want to be here?’
‘I think so.’ We walked away from the house and saw a car coming towards us. There was one exit on the road and as the car with Poe’s parents drove by it another car crashed into the side, killing both his parents in an instant. So it goes.
Poe stared at the crash while tears started running down his cheeks. I hugged him and we closed our eyes.
We woke up on a beach, a very familiar beach.
‘I’ve been here before. How can that be? Aren’t we in your past?’
‘This is the beach of the Offshore Pirate. I followed you here.’
‘Why did you go here?’
‘I don’t know. I don’t think I did this…’
I felt scared, but didn’t want to worry Poe.
‘Tell me about what you did here.’
‘I had been alone in the house. It was the day after my parents died. I didn’t know what to do so I just walked around aimlessly. Then all of a sudden I felt this strange need to go to the library and read a book by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I was looking for one short story in particular and when I found it I was transported here. First I thought it had something to with shock, but when it happened more often I knew it was something else.’
‘So what happened when you got here?’
‘I ran into the Offshore Pirate. I didn’t who he was or were I was, but he seemed friendly and very talkative. He told me about this strange girl that had just left. She had been from ‘the real world’ and had told him he lived in a book. He didn’t seem to mind at all and he wanted to know if I was from the real world as well. I was too freaked out to have a chat with him and returned home.’
‘I liked the Offshore Pirate. He was nice.’
We moved to Poe’s meeting with Locke. It had been minutes after I had left and Locke was still sitting behind his desk. I heard Poe ask him who he was and after a long introduction, Locke mentioned me, asking if our visits might have been related.
‘It dawned on me that you had the same power as I had. And being alone wasn’t treating me very well, so I decided I had to meet you.’
‘And you followed me through all the books?’
‘Yes. It wasn’t always fun though. You made some strange choices. And what did you do to Dorian Gray? He was hysterical when I arrived.’
‘Yeah, that was a bad day… I became more careful after that though.’
‘How do you mean?’
‘I stopped telling them where I was from. People don’t like to be called fake, even if they really are fake.’
‘Thursday didn’t seem to mind that much. She told me a lot about you. She said she was worried about you and asked me to look after you. You leave big impressions on these people, but you only meet them once. That always struck me as odd.’
‘To be fair, I stayed with Thursday for a couple of days. But how did you know where to go every time?’
‘Something just told me. I didn’t even know half the books, but I went there anyways.’
‘But that means you were also in Harry Potter?’
‘Yup. But I left right away. I couldn’t understand why anyone wanted to go there.’
I was instantly reminded of Cedric and started feeling sad again.
‘Oh, I’m sorry Polly. I didn’t mean it like that.’
‘It’s ok. I’m fine. Tell me more.’
We travelled through time again and arrived at a canal. We were surrounded by the sounds of the city.
‘What did you do here?’ I asked Poe.
‘I have never been here…’
‘We’re in How to be Idle. I went here with Cedric to show him the real world. But you said you’ve never been here. Didn’t you follow me everywhere?’
‘I thought I did. But if I haven’t been here, how come we went here?’
I finally noticed Cedric. He was standing with his back to me, looking at a rainbow over some houses. We had been rambling and he was so fascinated by this rainbow. Poe stepped back and I walked toward Cedric.
‘Polly, come see this! Do you see how pretty it is? It’s so bright!’
‘I know. It’s very pretty.’
‘Are you okay, Polly?’
‘I’m fine.’ I put my hand in his and we watched the rainbow until it disappeared.
After I said goodbye to Cedric a second time we went back to Poe’s mansion. I was finally cleaning out the last box while Poe was reading Slaughterhouse five in a lazy chair.
‘Didn’t you ever question that voice that told you where to go?’
‘I did at the start. But I felt alone. And the prospect of meeting someone like me was very tempting. Do you really think it was the Writingdesk Conundrum?’
‘He told me it was him. He said we were supposed to meet. I still need to figure out why though.’ I went on with unpacking the last box and after ten minutes of quiet Poe suddenly asked me something.
‘Are you still sad about Cedric?’
‘Off course I am. But there’s nothing to do about it now. He’s dead.’
‘So it goes.’
‘You’re getting the hang of it.’