The Leather Book

A kind of follow-up to a short story I posted in another story.

It began...


Ten pieces of silver was the price, for a book. I could not read, nor write, yet it enchanted me... drawing me in, until I opened the soft leather cover, carved with an image I could not tell of, the worn, yet firm parchment, smooth under my rough, calloused hands.

"I'll take it."


And now, all this time later, I can read it.  I have learned, dedicating myself to my new pursuit. Again I smooth the pages, feeling the letters fly underneath my hand. "And so." I say, a whisper. I long to say what lies within the parchment, the words there.

I dare not... I need a place to sit, where only I shall be. Where the story, so inviting that lays in my hands, can be my only companion.

My hands, not so calloused now, are gentle with the paper. I look around the empty street, so busy on that fateful day, yet now as a ghost-town.

The shade of a cool poplar tree invites. Yet no, stuck near the cobblestones in full sight of all who pass... meager as those may be at this day. I turn the other way, suddenly shivering in a breath of cold wind.

An open door, swinging loose on it's hinges, creaks with age. I creep inside, looking 'round. Only a shop. The next one, it's door not so quite old, though, is the same. Row after row of shops, until I find one...

Empty, a perfect place. I walk inside, out of the frigid breeze, and suddenly the door closes in the wind, now gusting. But the door closes not noisily, or with a great bang, but softly.

I take my book, and sit in a vacant chair, the only furniture in the empty place.

Dust layers the floor thickly, cobwebs hanging in every corner. But that does not matter. I strike a spark with my tinder and flint, pulling a candle from my pocket. I set in on the table, opening the pages in the sparse light.

I read eagerly the first word. "The" entwined with serpents and vines. I sigh, a soft sound of contentment. Yet before I can get any farther, my candle tips. It lands upon the floor, and the wooden floor timbers break into flame, just as if 'twas kindling.

"No!" I gasp. I reach for the door, my book in hand. But the flames, they are there already, coming, closer. "No!" I cried again. A window is open. I run, flinging myself out. But no. Barely my head can fit through.

I grasp my book, and resign myself. My fight is over. But not the fight of my book. I grasp the pages, so soft, the leather cover so intricately carved with the image of which I cannot see in the smoke. I push it out the meager opening.

"Go!" I say to it. "Find another!" And just like that, it slips from my hands and lands in the street with a thud.

That thud, the sound of finality. Of life beginning, of life ending. I face the flames, hoping for the book to make it's way into another set of hands.

The End

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