At first, it was shocking to see Martin–but she called him the Bibliophage–eat her books.
First, he would inhale, savoring each part of the book, sometimes individual pages. Then he would remove the pages–either with a scalpel or by hand, keeping the edges as neat as possible–a sensual purr of torn fiber. And then, while he soaked the binding in a mixture of warm water and salt, he ate the pages, tearing them into bite-sized pieces, almost absent-mindedly, while chatting with Marina about books he had eaten, books only he remembered now.
There didn’t seem to be any magic involved.
The first book he had eaten was, naturally enough, a children’s primer, back in 1943, its pages already warped from the drool of his two older brothers (whom he had not seen in years). The best book he’d eaten was a copy of the Bible, too common to itself disappear, but populated with the family tree of one of the women killed in Salem, Massechusetts, as a witch; it had also contained pressed wildflowers and a few lines of erotic poetry addressed to another girl’s boy-friend, rhyming skin with sin and again and again.
Marina felt the book–that is, the book’s name, which was all she knew of it–lift out of her, like a bird in flight, somewhere between the mastication of pages 107 and 108. But the memory of her husband, handing her the book, smiling, kissing her forehead, etc., etc.–all of that remained, as liminal and pervasive as ever.
Marina knew then that Martin must be killed.