By the Burned Book

kids, boys, room, books, star wars, poster, art, bookshelf, bookshelves, lightsaber, night light

“Did they say they were burning books?” he asked from the backseat, his nose buried deep within the pages of his own kindling.

“They,” I said with a nod to the radio, “are talking about some angry people who think the only way to get what they want is to keep others from enjoying themselves. It’s all the rage with mobs and super PACs.”

“Why do they burn books?” he asked. “Books don’t hurt people.”

“Stop making sense,” I told him.

“Seriously. Why do they burn books?”

“Here’s the thing,” I told him. “There are a lot of people in this world that fear books because books contain knowledge, and as you know, knowledge is power. These people fear books instead of reading them because they enjoy their ignorance. It’s all they know. It is as if they feed upon their own anger.”

“Like that war machine that Ares made on Justice League,” he said. “It fed off fear and anger, and it made it even stronger.”

“Exactly,” I said. “It’s very self-serving, really.”

“They don’t have to read the books. Nobody is making them.”

“Who teaches you this stuff?”

“Can’t they mind their own business?” he asked.

“Their business,” I said, “is everyone’s business. Apparently.”

“That’s called being nosy,” he said.

“It’s called lots of things,” I answered.

“Do they just burn banned books?”

“They burn whatever shines the brightest,” I explained. “Did you know that your name comes from a book that has been banned in some places?”

“I thought you said To Kill a Mockingbird was one of the best books ever written.”

“It is.”

We rode along in silence for a minute. The interview was winding down on the radio and coming up next was the traffic we were sitting in.

“If they insist on getting rid of books they should at least recycle them,” he said.

“You’re a smart kid,” I replied, and then I met his smile in the mirror. He turned his attention back to the book in his hands, and I looked ahead toward the road packed with stories and those I will someday write.

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