I slip between the curtains of the book covers and whirl down the widening gyre of words until the Real World is a memory. My pulse, heartbeat, impulses like hunger and cold, are all wired to the words dissolving into my otherwise unseeing eyes. I feel in my lungs and feet the invitational expanse of prairie or moorland, in my muscular reflexes the shrinking recoil from a bully, or the anger of injustice deep in my bones. Time runs differently in this dimension so that when I raise my eyes once again from the page there is a moment of acclimatization, like moving from light into darkness or the whelping gasps accompanying an immersion in cold water.
And then I am back, in my clunky flesh-form, in the thick resisting air of the Real World. Who decides this is more real than where I have just come from?
Yes, I believe in out-of-body experiences – they occur when I open a book.
Yes, I believe in life after death – when I read I die on the outside, reborn in a forest of pages where I wander until corporeality reanimates the shell and drags me back.
When I’m there all the nuance I’m too stiffened with overwhelm to comprehend in Real Time is unrolled like a Persian rug. Time slows. Details move forward, recede, linger if I want them to, waiting like braille bumps for my attention to move over them, firing synapses of deeper meaning through the fingertips of my consciousness, making connections, building meaning, fleshing out this world of ink and paper. I can gaze open-mouthed, take as long as I like to drink it all in, reading and re-reading the parts I want to take into my heart. Reading is a whole-body experience. It is teleportation for the soul.