There was a striking contrast between the way the books had been carefully arranged on the shelf and the thick layer of dust that coated them. It was a pattern repeated over and over again throughout the house: a great deal of thought put into how things were placed combined with abundant evidence of neglect. Why go to such lengths to organize only to ignore? If the books knew the answer, they kept it to themselves.

That’s the thing about books: they contain all the wisdom of human beings, but offer none of it for free. As long as they remain upon the shelf, they keep their secrets. One must take them down and wrest the knowledge from them. And even then, there remains the chance for misunderstanding.

A single figure walks the halls. A finger brushes one layer of dust off a spine revealing the hints of a title. A hint of a hint of the secrets within, and nothing more. A spot of something red stains the shelf in front of the book. Beaded up, the red has dried and even begun to collect its own layer of dust. It, too, sits forgotten and neglected, an answer to a question long forgotten. A bit of dust disturbed, but the red, and the books, left alone once more.

We need answers, even when we don’t know the question. And yet, contrary to the song, we don’t always get what we need, either. That frustration is the dust that is left behind.

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