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Dear Robert Jordan.
I hate you. I can't help it. I know I shouldn't, but hatred cannot be doused with mere logic. You abandoned the world, everyone who reads your books, and everyone in your books. But most importantly, you abandoned me. What am I supposed to do? I will never know how the story ends. Should I forget the whole series? Forget 10,000 pages of my life? Walk off to Barnes and Noble, skip down to the Fantasy Section, and pick a whole new world in which to live?
I shouldn't be so harsh; you didn't choose to die. Nevertheless, your books--your entire world--sit on my shelf and taunt me. "Charlie," they whisper so that only I can hear, "you will never get to live in our world. You have to stay outside in a world without magic or adventure. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!" They laugh at me all night, mocking me and the mundaneity of my existence. Sometimes I succumb to their goading and I dive again into the literary realm you created. Even as I journey through your books, I know that the magical medieval reality surrounding me isn't real. Every page I turn stings, a paper cut on my brain; for with every page I turn I come closer to the end. I hate finishing a book.
Once I lived in a world of black boredom. Not a glossy black, a matte black. I sat alone, content in my matte black monotony. I floated in nothing, indifferent to my surroundings: I thought nothing, heard nothing, saw nothing. And then you showed up with a torch, a gloriously glowing torch. You cast light into the darkness, into me. I could see color, shape, and life. And I lived beneath the light. Never before had I felt so connected to the world. Never before had I felt so warm or vivacious. I hadnít realized how cold I was in the matte black nothingness until I basked in the warmth of your torch. But when I turned around, you were gone. I didnít cry the day you died. I lay down in my bed and finished Knife of Dreams your last book. I finished it, even though I knew I would never read the sequel.
That was the third time in less than a month that I hid from death in your world. The first time was at Camp Champions, when the lifeguard drowned. Dinner that night and for the next few nights was eaten in silence, cafeteria walls echoing grief and shock. I stayed up 'til two in the morning finishing The Shadow Rising. Two weeks later, on the first day of school a kid in my grade killed himself. Hallways that should have been shaking with laughter shuddered in silence; smiling seemed a crime. That night I finished The Path of Daggers. Both times your world comforted me. I could flee into your words and hide from the real world beneath your pages. But when you died the next week, I could not escape. Your words no longer comforted, they depressed. Your world died with you. Again, I was alone in the darkness, but now I had seen the light. I floated, shivering in the cold, infinite night, mourning the loss of color, of warmth, and of you.
That's why I hate you, Robert Jordan. You taunt me with your magic, reinforcing the mundaneity, the sheer ordinarity of my life. Of everyone's lives. You made me see not only the light, but the darkness around me. You could escape into your own mind, but I don't have that luxury. I would like to say that your world, your characters, the lessons you taught, and your magic will live on through me, and that I will carry them proudly like a brilliant torch, guiding the lost and lonely through the black boredom of life. I would like to say that. But I can't. They would live, they would see, they would bask in the glow of magic, but what would happen if the torch died? What would happen if I abandoned them in the darkness?
Thank you, Robert Jordan, for teaching me one thing: I need to make my own light, my own magic. I can't go through life as a parasite, leeching from any author willing to share it. I need my own light, one that will last me until I die. While it is nice to share a fire once in a while, I need to prepare to start my own.
© The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. (Used by permission.)