"Where is that fucking book. I swear to God David, I'm going to-" The sound of hysterical threats, and items being thrown around the room, came to a sudden halt, as my father's voice cut her off . "Annie I know this is hard, trust me, I know. We have guests down stairs to offer their comfort, and who need to be comforted as well." He was trying to rationalize, but he was as desperate and broken as mom sounded, as I felt too.
I leaned my head against the cool wall that separated my bedroom from the conversation taking place in Matthew's. I took a satisfying swig of bourbon, letting the liquor warm my insides, and numb my emotions. I hummed along to the radio, unaware of the song. It could have been Justin Timberlake, but all I heard was the soulful melancholy of Leonard Cohen. I sank lower and Lower onto my bedroom floor, until I was parallel with the ceiling, the re imagined music weighing in on my buzz.
My eyelids grew heavy. I crossed my arms behind my head, creating a makeshift pillow. I tried to push memories of Matthew out of my head, but my attempts were weak.
I envisioned him, seven years old, Scraped knees and missing a couple baby teeth, trying to teach me how to tie my shoes in the front foyer...
I remembered him at twelve years old, hammering away on his next masterpiece at the piano...
Seventeen and gaining early acceptance to Juliard...
Twenty, and running a very successful music studio...
Twenty one and dead from an overdose. Suicide, Suicide...
I squeezed my eyes shut. When I opened them I shifted my focus back to the song, the Leonard Cohen-Justin Timberlake mash up. I raised my flask high above my head. "Dig those groovy tunes."
"I want the book destroyed, before it takes our second child too!" Mom's voice was more shrill this time, breaking into my thoughts.
It took me a moment to process her words. His book, Matthew's book, destroyed...She couldn't destroy Matt's book. He loved his books! I turned my head, pressing my ear against the wall, my arm still high in the air.
"We will, in the morning Annie. Lets just get through this together."
I couldn't hear mom's reply, but I heard the footsteps leading out of Matt's room. The flask slipped out of my head, and clunked down on the corner of my eye. I howled. "Shit! That hurt."
I sat upright, and found my way to my feet. The room swayed enough to make me lean on the wall for support. Carefully, I made my way to Matthew's room. Being in there alongside his stuff; his books, trophies and sheet music, was like being kicked in the stomach. The air rushed out of my lungs. I took one more swig from my flask for bravery.
I ransacked his bedroom, looking for books that my parents might want to destroy. Catcher in the Rye was my first suspect for personal reasons, but there was a layer of dust on the spine. I knew I was looking for a book Matthew had read more recently.
I looked in his closet, under the bed, and in his desk drawers.I began to think the book was in one of his Flats in the city, but then I stubbed my toe on something sharp. I sucked in air.
The corner of a wooden floorboard stuck up higher than the rest. I tapped it with my other foot. It was loose, so dropped to my hands and knees to feel it out. My finger nails worked the floorboard, until I had enough leverage to prop it open.
Inside, the top spine of a book was visible . I pulled the tall book out of the expertly dug slot. It was about the size and weight of an encyclopedia. The cover was done up in aged brown leather. Nondescript. It could have been an ancient relic, or some sort of Halloween decoration. It was creepy looking enough. "Hocus Pocus," I muttered before blowing dust off the cover.
When I opened the book the letters looked distorted, like odd symbols. I blamed it on the effects of the alcohol. The weight of the book made me stagger, but slowly I made my way back to my bedroom, and collapsed on my bed, with the book in my arms. I was suddenly unsure of why I had it in the first place.
The next morning, the sun leaked through the French doors of my balcony. I rolled on my other side to avoid the harsh light. I was met with something solid and and bulky. My eyes fluttered open. I rubbed my face, and the sore area around my eye. I was overcome with the smell of aged leather.
I tried to shake off sleep, as events of last night came to me in fragments, until I had a vague idea of why and how I came to posses this monster of a book laying next to me.
I decided to study the tome more thoroughly. I propped myself on my elbows and flipped through the pages. Still unreadable. Still filled with foreign symbols. Hieroglyphics, runes? What would Matthew be doing with a book like this? Why was I so infatuated with it?
I took a picture of the text on my phone and ran a google search on the image, nothing came up. I looked through various symbols online to see if I could find a match. Nothing. Why would Matthew have hid this under his floor boards? I was anxious to find out.
I showered, and dressed,taking time to conceal the bruise on the corner of my eye with makeup. I shoved Matt's book in my book bag, and headed out the door.
The Glenrove Museum was a block away from my house. Driving there took only a minute. The museum was a spiraling purple victorian house, that bordered the Glenrove creek.
Rosebushes lined the walkway to a tall, double door entrance, that was always unlocked during business hours. The museum was small and quaint. Most of its contents were old pictures, books, and relics of Glengrove from the eighteenth century and up. There was a tiny section that contained older worldly pieces, rich with history.
"Hello Miss Dallas." The curator said, coming up the hallway.
I gave the man a slight wave. His skin was tan and weathered, and paired with his cotton white hair caused his tired eyes to appear darker. He appeared much older than when I had seen him only a year ago, at a community picnic."Hi Mr. Burke."
The old man stopped before me , and reached out to give my shoulder a squeeze. I instinctively ducked out of his grasp, he didn't seem to notice. "I want to offer my deepest condolences," he said.
I nodded stiffly. "Thank you," I cleared my throat, trying to ward off his awkward sympathy stare. "I was hoping you might be able to take a look at something." I handed him the book from my bag. He took a minute, inspecting the front and back cover, as if he'd never seen a book before. "Come with me."
Five minutes later, I sat across from Mr. Burke at his desk. He hovered over the book, squinting through a magnifying glass. After a few more minutes he set it down. "I can't be sure of this book's origin, but I think it's Scandinavian. Thats not much, I'm sorry. I know you came here seeking my help, but Miss Dallas, I can't decipher the text."
I sighed, but quickly straightened my posture and offered a meager smile so I didn't appear too rude.
"However, I am showcasing some of my more prestigious items at a Galla tonight. If I might be able to borrow this relic for the event, I might be able to get some insight from some of the guests."
I hesitated to give him an answer. I really didn't want the book out of my sight, odd as it was, I felt possessive over it, like Matthew wouldn't want just anyone handling it. I weighed my options. I really wanted to learn more about it...
"And you're invited to come as my personal guest. If you're up to it, of course." he fumbled
I took a long moment to decide, but I knew I needed all of the distractions I could get right now."What time should I be there?"