‘Welcome. Opening The Book is easy. Closing it, is another story.’
Marley frowned as she read the words printed in large lettering on the page before her.
What’s it mean, closing it, is another story? She pondered over this sentence for a few seconds. Perhaps it means it’s a gripping tale that you can’t put down, Yes, that’s it. She held onto this thought as she continued to read.
‘This is your story, written just for you. In its pages you will find yourself immersed. The smells, the sounds, the characters, will all have a life of their own. It will be yours to experience.’
“This is the strangest introduction I’ve ever read.”
Marley looked up from the book and glanced about her, but there was no one else in the shop. She considered knocking on the old man’s door and asking him what he made of this. The door was tightly closed and the blind pulled down. She stared at it for a long time. Afraid to anger the old man more than he already was, she sighed and cast her eyes back to the page.
‘The Book wants you to understand that the author is responsible for the outcome of the story. The only aid the author has is the Pen. With Pen in hand, ideas grow. Upon clean paper crisp and white, words then written, freely flow, but remember - keep the story tight! What is written then will be, and the story will go on. So choose the words carefully, lest they be interpreted wrong.’
Marley blew out a long breath. “Blimey! What was that all about?” Surely the story is already written, she thought.
She chewed her bottom lip while her mind tried to make sense of what she had just read. She began to feel anxious and very hot, as though a fire had lit in her feet and was racing through her body. It passed through her knees, crossed over her waist and into her chest, finally reaching her throat and cheeks. The room started to spin and for a split second she thought she was going to pass out. Marley gripped the edge of the table to steady herself, closed her eyes so she could not see the swirling of the room, and took several deep breaths. The heat in her body subsided and the sense of dizziness dispersed. She opened her eyes. The room was still.
“Whoa, was that a panic attack?” She felt the beads of sweat that had formed on her forehead and wiped them away with the back of her hand. Her mouth was dry and she ran her tongue across her lips to moisten them. Why would I panic? There’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a book with a story. Yet, she did feel afraid and it made no sense to her. Pushing her chair back, she stood up. Her hands were sweating. She rubbed them on the leg of her jeans.
“Damn the stupid book. Who wants to read it anyway?” she said out loud as though to reassure herself. You do…. The voice of The Book whispered into the air and Marley knew that only she could hear it. “I don’t, I don’t,” she shouted back, even though she knew it wasn’t true.
The attraction to The Book and all that it held within was so strong. She found it hard to fight. But fight it she did as she ran towards the shop door, grabbed hold of the handle and pulled. It didn’t open. She placed both hands around the shiny knob and tugged. Still it didn’t budge. The bell above the door started its jangling. Louder and louder it became as it swung violently from side to side. Marley covered her ears with both hands and backed away from it.
The creak of a door opening sounded behind her and she swung around to see the old man standing there. The bell stilled and the shop was silent once more. He looked at her and moved towards the counter.
“You can’t leave. The Book will not let you.”
“That’s ridiculous. What sort of game are you playing?” As soon as the words left Marly’s lips, she knew what his answer would be.
“This is no game, young lady. I did try to warn you. The Book entices those it chooses. Rarely do they resist. I only ever remember one who managed to. But that was many, many years ago, I daresay before you were even born. It will not let you go till the story is done. I cannot help you in any way. It will not allow me.” His eyes took on a glassy look and Marley thought she saw the beginning of a tear.
“It won’t let me go till the story is done?” She had known the moment she opened The Book’s cover that was so. She just hadn’t believed it, putting it down once more to her lively imagination.
“That is right. You have to read. The game is now on. How is your imagination?”
“That’s one thing I’ve got plenty of.” Marley thought this a strange question, but then nothing had been normal since stepping inside this antiquated book shop.
“Good, good. Use it well girl. It just might save you yet.” The old man nodded to himself, turned and walked through his door, closing it with a loud click behind him.
Marley retraced her steps back to the oak table and sat down once again. Placing her hand on the opened page, she averted her eyes from it and instead looked straight ahead. I wonder what the old man meant by my imagination might save me yet? If The Book won’t let me go, I’d better get on and read it. She lowered her eyes and read the last paragraph on that page.
‘ The story must be told, it waits upon the page. Wordsmith you must be, don’t shy away, be bold! To begin the story turn the page and Enter.’
With a shaking hand, Marley slowly turned over the page….
To be continued:
Part 1 can be found HERE