You open the book, its spine creaking as you begin your journey.
I. The Beginning
You learn of the characters living within the words—their physical features, small quirks, and a look into their deepest thoughts. It's like the start of a new relationship. It's a time for you to get to know them—feel them out. Beginnings are always different. Some beginnings are captivating—like that cool girl you always wanted to be friends with—they reel you in, tempting you to devour its story in one sitting. Other beginnings are drawn out—you start to wonder whether it's even worth it, and you hesitate whether or not to read more of its story.
You can decide to learn more of its story or leave it as an untouched book.
II. The Middle
Without even knowing it, you've become invested in the lives of those who live on paper. Some lives are vastly different from yours, casting you into a different realm and allowing you to forget what reality holds. Other lives are eerily similar to yours, sympathizing with you as if it's you who lives between those words.
You're whisked away to faraway places or to the other side of this very world. You become exposed to different cultures and languages and species. Soon, the characters are no longer detached from your life, but become a friend that you root for, a hero that you believe in and even, the individual that you wish you were.
Your heart races as the person, living on those pages, faces tribulations and heartache. Your heart bleeds as you read some lives come to an end, before the ending has even begun. Your heart sings as the words wrap themselves around you, bringing you comfort, even amidst the storm that rages on outside.
It becomes harder to differentiate between the lives of those on paper and the reality surrounding you. As you weep with the characters and laugh at their joyous moments, you're also hit with the blaring truth that their life is not the one you live.
III. The End
It's always the hardest part as is with anything in life. It's like saying goodbye to a friend you just got to know, but as the people who live within those pages get their happily-ever-afters, you feel happy with them. You also pity the ones who weren't able to get that ending, and create a better one within the corner of your heart.
Not all endings are the same though.
Some leave you with anger and others impart longing. There are endings that you look forward to and then there are endings that you put off through the 5 pages you leave unread. However, you know that as with all good things, everything must come to an end.
And as you close the cover, the spine creaking once again, you look to start another journey that will leave you as spent as the last story did.