Today is my birthday, and my mother has given me a journal. It is exquisitely made; each page is velvet-smooth, as white as new-fallen snow with gilded edges; the colors could blind the eye. The binding is meticulous. I suspect this book will not fall apart for years.
I want very badly to burn it.
Yet… my mother is trying. That is more than I would have asked for. She pointed out the book’s cover to me, and said she had chosen this one precisely because of the color, my favorite.
The book’s cover is crimson. My favorite color is green. I opted not to mention this.
The journal is better than the gifts I have received in years past—more than a pretty thing I can train my eye on, something without use. Books contain information; and every source of information will eventually crumble to nothing, but information itself is more enduring. It lasts until such point as it ceases to be true.
Can the story of a person’s life ever become false? I will have to think on that.
I am seventeen today. I imagine I have a long existence ahead of me, whether I find this notion displeasing or not. So I guess I will write in this book; perhaps it will help me to get my thoughts in order. I am sure it will please my mother. My entries will be on prime-numbered days, starting with this day, the number one. One is the first of the natural numbers, the first prime number, and the first odd number, and everything multiplied by one will be itself. Because of this the number one is called the empty product, the same as multiplying by nothing at all.
It is appropriate. I am glad to be starting here.
“War is dark. Black as pitch... It does not laugh or weep. It rewards neither skill nor daring. It is not a trail of souls, nor the measure of wills... It is merely the place where the iron bones of the earth meet the hollow bones of men and break them.” —R. Scott Bakker