What happened to this book?
It’s just vanished, like it was never there to begin with.
But I know it was there before, once long ago.
What happened to this book?
It’s just vanished, like it was never there to begin with.
But I know it was there before, once long ago.
I can no longer feel it in my heart and soul. Where once I had energy and passion there is only a dry husk. I feel there is nothing left inside of me to write about. Every place I look for motivation I find none.
Sitting at the bus stop or lingering in a closing cafe, I listen and watch the people just like I have done for years. My mind draws no pictures around them. They are normal people with normal lives. Not fantasy heroes or Victorian heroines ready for adventures.
Searching in the library, I find books on writing, but I’ve read them all before. I look for more, anything that draws my attention, anything that might get the gears working in my head again. I leave with my arms full of books and spend all day and night reading, but it doesn’t solve my problem.
I go to the doctor and tell him the voices have stopped talking in my head. He smiles and says but isn’t that what everyone wants? What’s the problem? I shout back, but I’m a writer and my life depends on those voices! He shrugs, tells me to eat healthier, have a holiday, and take up a new hobby.
At home I lay in bed, watching spider shadows across the ceiling. I think about what if I’d not been born me. What if I’d been born someone else? Like my doctor or the old lady who always gets the same bus as me. What if I was leading a totally different life right now?
Would I miss writing? Would I even know I had a gift?
I once had a gift.
Now there’s only empty space inside of my head with cotton candy clouds floating by. I wonder if Heaven is like this?
In the morning, I get up and pack a suitcase and rucksack. Of my writing suppliers, I take only an old comforting notebook and a favorite pen. I go to the train station, choose the next train to the furthest away place and buy a one way ticket.
Hopefully inspiration will be waiting at the end of the line.
The library is closing down so I’ve gone to see what books they are giving away. If I could I’d bring everything home but since the house already looks like a library I’ll try hard to just pick the best books. I promise!
Tsundoku; buying books and not reading them then allowing unread books to pile up together.
I entered my granddad’s house and my heart filled with panic. I was surrounded by piles and piles of books. They reached from floor to ceiling and were stacked everywhere. Narrow passageways lead to each room and you had to sideways step through. I held my breath as I squeezed down the hallway into the living room.
Four walls of books met my eyes. They must have been stacked three or four deep! In the centre was an old, comfy armchair and a reading lamp, but that was all the furniture there. I looked around, titles and book spines flashing before me.
Maybe further inside the house wouldn’t be as bad?
I was wrong! There were books filling the kitchen, the bedroom and the bathroom. It was as if a large library had been packed into a two down to up terrace house, only someone hadn’t realised there wasn’t enough space.
What was I going to do with it all?
I sank on to the armchair and looked around. My head began to come up with ideas; from the simple – getting a skip- to the more extreme – opening my own bookshop or library.
I knew my granddad had been a hoarder of books, but I could never have imagined this.
I had no idea what the person next to me was doing. In fact, I had no idea what anyone in this office or even building was doing. It was a strange thought and one that had not even dawned on me before.
I looked around, taking in the long rows of desks, the tops of computers and stacks of papers. Someone was sat at every desk, typing or writing away, their heads mainly down. There was a low murmur of voices, tapping keys, scrabbling of phones and churning of machinery. Around the walls of the room rose the bookcases. They were packed with multi-colored book covers and contained all the knowledge of the world, from start to finish.
How long had I been working here now? Five, six, seven years? And not once had I thought to find out what this company was and what the other workers did. There had never seem to be any need though. I had always known my job and just got on with it. The awareness of everyone else had been there, but I guess I had never really noticed.
I peered over at the person to my right. It was a woman and she was busy tapping on a laptop. There were books, paper and pens scattered on her desk. She ignored me, either not realising I was watching or not caring. She was working on a research piece about monkeys, something which I could link to my own work.
I turned to the left and looked at the man there. His desk seemed the same as the woman’s, only he had no laptop and busy handwriting notes. There were many large books open before him. He was writing about monkeys in films. Once again, he didn’t seem to care I was watching him.
I got up and slowly made my way around the room. Everyone was researching and writing about something different and yet it all connected together. Finally, I concluded that we were working on a complete history of Earth’s animals. Each person had been given a different animal and subject matter which at first seemed a little out of place, but was actually a piece of the jigsaw we were creating.
I went back to my desk. My thoughts really awake for the first time.
In the library, she could lose herself for hours or even days. The books whispered to her, telling of tales to be discovered and friends to be made.
The snow was falling thickly outside, burying the moor further under a white blanket. Lisbeth watched the flakes from the library windows which were the biggest in the small manor house and gave the best views. After a few moments of peering out of each of the three windows, Lisbeth climbed into the window box which was in the second window.
The window box had a soft red cushion covered seat and hand stitched square cushions at both corners. It was cosy and always made Lisbeth feel safe in the large cold library. Bending her knees up and tucking her long dark green dress underneath her, Lisbeth wrapped her arms around her legs and stared out of the window.
She could see the small dirt circled driveway, with the fountain turned off for winter. The red brick wall and black iron gates with their covering of ivy. Beyond, was the moor, which seemed to stretched out forever like the sea. Being covered in snow, the landscape looked bleak and boring, but Lisbeth knew come spring and summer, the moors would be brightly colored with flowers and alive with baby animals.
A loud knocking on the door drew her attention away and Lisbeth turned her head to see her maid walking into the library. The young woman was wearing a black dress and a white pinafore. When she got closer, having come around the big oak table that sat in the middle of the room, Lisbeth saw she had something in her hand.
‘This has arrived for you, Miss. A gift from your father,’ the maid spoke.
Lisbeth reached out a hand and took the brown paper and string wrapped packet. It was a rectangle shape and heavy. Slowly, Lisbeth unwrapped it and and found a book inside. The cover was a light brown and golden letters which she couldn’t read, spelled out a title and an author.
‘I’ll lit the fire in here for you, Miss,’ the maid said.
Lisbeth didn’t say anything as her fingers touched the golden lettering. She knew it was French, but she only knew a handful of words. Opening the book, she flipped through the pages and noticed that some of them had drawings on. In the background, she heard a fire being started then the closing of the door.
Turning the pages slower, Lisbeth come across an image that made her stop. There was a man with black curly hair and blue trousers carrying a girl in one hand and leading a white horse in the other. The horse was carrying four or six other girls through what seemed to be countryside. Lisbeth tried to read the pages on either side of the picture, looking for any words she might know. However, the few she did know give her no clue as to what the drawing was about.
Looking harder at the picture, Lisbeth tried to figure out what was going on. Clearly, this man was taking the girls somewhere. Maybe, he was rescuing them? Was he a Prince? A Lord? A poor farmer? And who were the girls and why were there so many of them? Lisbeth counted again and decided there was six of them riding the horse and the girl in his arm made seven. Were they sisters then?
Feeling frustrated, Lisbeth closed the book and set it at her feet. Resting her head on her knees, she looked out the window again. The glass was misting up and the snow was falling faster making the view of the moor even more distant. From behind her came the first curls of warmth from the fire. She heard the flames cracking around the logs, the noise was too loud in the silence of the library.
Lisbeth shut her eyes and though she didn’t want to think about the drawing anymore, she couldn’t help it. Desperately, she wanted to know who the man and the girls were.
Father will know, she thought, when he gets back from his business trip, he can read it to me.
Sighing and feeling the chill leaving her, Lisbeth went to open her eyes again, but found they were too heavy. With the fire lulling her to sleep, she let herself slip away.
When Lisbeth finally opened her eyes again, she found herself not at home in the library watching the snow falling on the moor, but outside in the countryside. The sun was blazing in a too blue sky, tall green trees were dotted around and the grass under her was long. Birds were singing, insects buzzing and the smell of flowers filled the air.
As she was wondering what had happened, Lisbeth heard the sound of horses hoofs. Getting up, she looked around and saw a road close by. Walking over, she soon saw a large white horse being led by a young man with black curly hair. He was wearing medieval clothes like she had seen in paintings. In his other hand, he was carrying a child wrapped in white strips of cloth who had very long blonde hair. Upon the horse, six other girls rode and they were also wrapped in cloth with tangled long blonde hair.
Lisbeth stepped onto the road before them all.
‘Excuse me,’ Lisbeth called, ‘Hello. Could you please tell me where I am?’
The man brought his horse to a stop and looked at her. The seven girls also fixed their eyes to her and Lisbeth could now see that the girls all looked the same, but they were different ages. They all looked weary as if they had been walking for awhile.
‘You are far from anywhere,’ the man replied.
‘This is the middle of the French countryside,’ the man explained, ‘there is nothing but farmers and wine makers out here. We are days from the nearest village and a month from the nearest town.’
‘And who are you all?’ Lisbeth asked.
‘You are clearly a stranger here,’ the man spoke.
‘I’m Prince Louis and these are my sisters. Our kingdom was burnt down and we could not stay there. We are traveling to the next kingdom where my oldest sister is betrothed to the Prince there.’
‘I see,’ Lisbeth answered.
‘And you?’ the Prince asked.
‘I do not know. I woke up over there.’
Lisbeth looked at the spot and fell into wondering how she got here.
‘What’s your name?’ the oldest and first Princess on the horse asked.
‘Lisbeth. That I am sure of!’
‘Do you want to come with us?’
‘I do not think I can. I am waiting for my father. He should be home soon,’ Lisbeth replied thoughtfully.
‘Then we must leave you now,’ the Prince spoke out, ‘the road is still long ahead of us.’
‘It was nice meeting you all,’ Lisbeth said.
With nods of goodbye, Lisbeth stepped off the road and watched the Prince leading the white horse away. When she could not seen them anymore, Lisbeth walked back to the spot she had woken up in and sat down.
‘How do I get out of here?’ she spoke aloud.
Resting back, she looked up at the cloudless sky and felt the heat on her skin. She felt tried and hot. Shutting her eyes, she told herself that after a little doze she would figure this all out further.
Someone was calling her name. She could hear them in the distance. Fighting away sleep, Lisbeth opened her eyes. She blinked a few times then sat up. She was back in the library. Rubbing her face, she looked out of the window, but darkness had now settled outside. Turning away, she saw her maid standing before her and the fire still burning brightly further back.
‘I fell asleep…’ Lisbeth said, ‘and it was all a dream.’
‘A pleasant one I hope, Miss?’ the maid asked.
‘Would you like some supper now, Miss?’
‘No, thanks. I think I shall go to my room,’ Lisbeth said.
She slipped out of the window box and picked up the book. Even though she was tempted to open the pages and see the drawing again, she kept the book closed and walked out of the library.
Outside the snow continued to fall.
(From a prompt by https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/microfiction-challenge-26-a-journey/ with thanks)
Fern stared into the large crystal goblet that Raphael had just handed her. The dark ruby liquid was speckled with tiny flicks of dark green. She sniffed gently and smelt warm blood mingled something herby. She weighted the goblet in her hand, noticing how heavy and thick it was. Feeling Raphael’s sharp eyes resting on her, she raised the drink and wet her lips with it.
‘You should find it very refreshing,’ Raphael purred.
Fern lowered the goblet and pressed her lips together. On the tip of her tongue she could taste the blood and something grew inside of her, beckoning for more. She looked at Raphael, who’s lips were twisted up in the corners in a strange smile as if he was hiding a secret. He was holding a small golden goblet loosely and seemed transfixed on watching her.
Then Fern’s eyes glanced at Ollie. He was standing still, a matching crystal goblet clutched in his hand, staring at her. His face was calm, but underneath, Fern could tell he was pleading with her. Finally, he glanced down and took a sip of the liquid. He swallowed and looked around the library.
‘What do you think?’ Raphael asked.
‘It’s nice,’ Fern replied carefully.
‘Beside we should sit down? Most of the others should be returning shortly and I’d like you to meet them.’
Fern glanced at the arrangement of furniture then walked over to a large deep sofa close by. She peached on the edge and took another pretend sip of her drink. Her lips and tongue tingled at the touch of silky warmth whilst her stomach let out a little growl. She avoided looking down into the swirling liquid and willed herself to be strong.
Perhaps, Ollie is wrong? the vampire voice whispered in the back of her mind.
She peeked at him as he came over and joined her, sitting on the opposite side of the sofa and leaving an empty space between them. He stole a look at her, before turning his head away and allowing his hair to fall over his face. He balanced his goblet on the arm of the sofa and fell silent.
Why would he lie to me though? Fern questioned, we’ve only just met, what’s he got to gain or lose?
Who knows. Drink the blood, the voice hissed back at her.
The sound of Raphael sitting down in an old Victorian broad leather arm chair opposite them drew her attention. Fern looked at him and watched him take a few sips from the golden goblet. She could smell it was different to what she and Ollie had in their glasses.
‘Why are you not drinking the same as us?’ she asked.
Raphael smiled over at her, ‘because every vampire has their favourite blood. You shall see in time.’
‘What’s in this?’
‘Hasn’t she got such an inquisitive mind?’ Raphael cried, looking at Ollie, who gave him a hard stare back. ‘It’s nothing to worry about. Just some dried herbs and honey. It makes the blood richer and helps to relax you.’
‘I thought we couldn’t…we can only have blood…’ Fern trailed off.
‘There are ways to do things and we are lucky to have a scientist in the family. He has perfected throughout the years combinations of ingredients that have been found to benefit us greatly. You shall get to meet him later, no doubt.’
‘Sounds interesting,’ Fern responded and took a sip of the blood.
Raphael nodded then turned to Ollie, ‘what are you brooding about?’
Ollie shook his head and took a drink, remaining silent.
‘You are no longer the baby now. You should be grateful,’ Raphael continued.
Fern looked up at Ollie shyly, biting back the words that were dancing on her tongue. She wrapped her fingers around her goblet and felt the tension rising in the room.
‘I am grateful,’ Ollie snapped as he stood up swiftly, ‘I don’t have time for this.’
He swept in-between them, crossing the library in a few steps and flinging open the door. Fern listened to his footfalls outside in the corridor then as they raced up two flights of stairs. A female voice seemed to call out his name in the distance before being sharply cut off by the slamming of a door.
‘And here’s me thinking you would get on…’ Raphael uttered.
‘Beside, he just needs sometime? It must be difficult having someone new show up,’ Fern spoke into her goblet.
Her eyes had fallen on the ruby blood and she couldn’t seem to focus on anything else. The scent was so over powering and she felt…so hungry.
‘Perhaps,’ Raphael whispered, ‘drink up.’
Fern nodded and brought the goblet to her lips. Opening her mouth she drank deeply.
To Be Continued…
There were too many distractions at home, so he went to the park. Settling on a bench, he pulled out his MacBook and began writing. A soft warm breeze brought him the scent of cut grass and summer flowers. He could hear children laughing, a dog barking and distant voices. It seemed the perfect background. A family of cyclists went by. The sun catching their bikes’ spinning wheels caused him to glance up. He watched them heading around the corner, the two children trying to overtake their parents.
He looked down again and read the last line. The words blurred before him and for a moment he couldn’t remember why his side character was suggesting they all head to the park. His fingers landed on the delete key and stayed there. His eyes flickered up and he saw a teenager on a skateboard with a border collie running alongside. Looking down again, he deleted that line and instead typed in what he had meant to say.
A whistle blew from somewhere behind him and it was followed by the sounds of a football game ending. He looked over his shoulder, but couldn’t see anything through the clump of tall bushes. Flexing his shoulders, he turned back to his novel and began again. Everything was firmly fixed in his head and found it easy to write. The sound of a tennis match and victorious cries drifted over and he raised his head again.
Painfully, he became away that the background noises of the park were increasing. He looked around and noticed that more children – many in school uniforms- were crowding around the play area. There were more dog walkers, who were being forced to stop and talk to each other as their dogs interacted. People cycling back from work or wherever, sped passed and it seemed that the whole town had descended on the park.
He saved his work, closed his MacBook and put it back in his bag. Getting up, he ran a list of other places through his head and deciding he was thirsty headed to an Artistic Café that was half hidden on a corner next to the art gallery. Arriving there, he found it almost empty. He choice a table at the back and got everything out. He had just plugged his MacBook into a plug socket labelled ‘customer use only’ when a tried looking waitress filled his vision.
He ordered a black coffee and a slice of walnut cake. She nodded, not bothering to write his order down and walked back to the counter. He turned to the screen before him and re-read the last few paragraphs. He noticed a couple of spelling mistakes and one miss use of tense. He fixed them and re-reading the last line once more, began again.
The waitress returned and mumbling a thanks, he carried on. He had almost forgotten his cake and coffee having become caught up in his main character’s monologue, when the door opened. He twisted his head and felt a joyous breath of fresh air on his face. He saw a cluster of art students cramming themselves through the door and to a table. Their noisy voices rose and fall with laughter and sniggers.
He drink his lurk warm coffee and shoved the cake into his mouth. His eyes flickered over the words on the white screen and he’s inner voice give life to the next few lines. His fingers darted over the keyboard, filling more of the white space. His ears rang with the art students’ voice and he turned around to scowl at them.
The waitress was hovering over their table, looking happier. The door opened again more students tumbled in. He saved his work and closed the MacBook. He put everything away and went to the counter. Having paid his bill he left and walked to the library. However, mere minutes after arriving there, finding a quiet desk and setting up, the oppression of the library got to him.
He wasn’t sure why the too full bookcases and the smell of slowly decaying paper made him claustrophobic. Nor why there had to be dim lighting and the sense that everyone around him was trying to be as silent as possible. He left and was greeted outside by a huge relief. He went home, deciding that his kitchen would just have to do.
Bibliomania: obsessive–compulsive disorder which involves the collecting or hoarding of books.
It was an addiction she told herself, but surely it had to be one of the better ones? No harm had ever come to her, beside from a paper cut, a handful of scary dreams and the one time she almost tripped. It wasn’t the same as being completely obsessive with clothes, shoes and designer labels like some of her friends were. Nor, did she feel that she was spending all of her money or wasting it. In fact, she felt that it enriched her life. She could travel to so many counties and worlds, different periods of time and meet a whole range of peoples. Also, she liked experiencing the full spectrum of emotions without the events truly happening to her.
She couldn’t stop herself from going into shops to search amongst the shelves or looking through crumbled cardboard boxes outside and inside. She never seemed to be looking for anything in particular; just whatever grabbed her and her hands picked up. She would take them home and find a place within her steadily filling up rented house. That was all she seemed to have a first glance. There was no TV or dining room table, but she had a computer, a desk and everything else. Each room also had a category and her organisation was based on the library one – the Dewey Decimal system.
She did actually spend nearly all of her free time reading, so it wasn’t as if they were just left for years on end. The issue was separation when she came to the end. There were some she could never be parted from and others she could easily be, but she just couldn’t release them. She panicked about what would happen to them and where would they end up. The idea that they could be burnt or abandoned in the rubbish dump tortured her, so she only tended to let one go if she had first assured herself about its new owner. If she didn’t feel so attached them, she had once told herself, she would turn her house into a public library.
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The Author Blog of Jason H. Abbott
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