Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Worn in Words

Nathalie would resign herself to the idea that it would never work. Poring over all the digests for the last 3 hours, she still couldn't find the one that mattered - the one that held all the answers.

"I know it was here - I saw the damn thing!" She was nearly pissed. "The old bitty promised!"

Nathalie remembered the look of the 94 year old woman with her yellow, cigarette stained teeth, cackling her speech like an old witch.

"My dear," the ancient voice wavered & cracked, "it isn't the answer. I promise you that. I haven't told you enough, have I? That you cannot make love happen, it does or it doesn't. Alas, young lady, the book does hold the key. The journal you can find at the old Marbler place. It will be in their library."

To Nathalie he remained anonymous, no name, only a face. She'd seen him several times & most often from a distance. She'd have it in her head for months - that he was the one! It was in his eyes - she'd seen it there.

Nathalie was a wholesome, but not quite beautiful girl. At least she didn't think she was. She always had the worst luck with men - they were either trashy & creeps or they just weren't. Fair skin and blue eyes, darkest black hair - does not beget the winning man, waiting for your care...she thought.

She had gone into the desk on last time, opened the bottom left drawer one last time, dug under all the files & papers one last time and there. It was there!! After her intensive search - she finally had it in her hands!

"Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!" She was too excited, for sure the last came out sounding like ohmigodomigodomigod, no real discernation of words. After a few hops in circles with the book in both her hands, she had to think. "This is it! I found it...now what?"

She plopped into the desk chair feeling good about the find, but not so good about messing with something she had no right to mess with. She slouched at the defeating thought. Nathalie wanted this so badly. She searched and searched, but now she thought maybe it wasn't such a good idea.

"Pros & cons, that's it - I'll write them down!" She took pen & paper & wrote. It took her about an hour, but finally she had something. "Now to tabulate." She said aloud, talking to herself was becoming a bad habit today.

"The pros win....hhhcuuuuchhhhhh." She cupped her hands in front of her mouth to make a wild crowd sound, to signify her victory.

She placed the book in front of her - it looked like an ordinary journal. An old leather bound, white cover looking worn & a little beige. It was rather nondescript. The early pages curled in the corners as she opened it. She felt something then, just a glimpse of something. It was as if someone had breathed through her hair.

The chicken scratch within was definitely hard to read. She thumbed through a number of pages & couldn't find the word love anywhere. That was all she had to do - that was it. With the thought of the one in her mind, the word love would give her all she needed. At least that was what old leatherface said, Nathalie thought.

"It's a very special book. I know you know from your aunts. They did tell too much," Arianna said. The smile always rested in her face. Like she'd lived a happy life, long as it was, Nathalie thought it impossible. "They were my best friends, nearly from birth. This was my promise to them - you get the book, and you shall, my dear, you shall."It wasn't long after that last conversation, the poor woman let go. Arianna hadn't been ill, not that Nathalie had known, but remembered the woman saying that she had been here too long already. At the time, Nathalie was unsure what that meant, she still was, really.

Nathalie spent the next several days searching and searching. She felt she'd been through the journal at least 100 times. Thouroughly! Incessantly, when she could! She was determined and she was becoming apprehensive that she never would find what she was looking for.

Journal in hands, opened with intent focus, Nathalie was walking to the bank. She had to make the deposit before it closed. She'd told Martin she would. Paying less attention than she should, she bumped her right shoulder hard into something. So hard she dropped on her butt even harder. She let go that little tight squeal - you all know the one - the tail bone squeal. And she couldn't breathe. Her eyes closed and she tried to catch her breath. She looked down and noticed the journal upside down. Her breath finally coming in, like through a tiny seive in her throat. Nathalie flipped the book over and all at once, the most intense connection to anything she'd ever felt, warmth rushed through her, a life flashed before her eyes. Sped into her mind like a fast forward film, lightning quick. Just as fast as it happened it was over. She felt a normal breath escape her and looked up. The sun was bright & she shielded her eyes. A hand reached down to her and she heard a voice, "Are you alright?" It was deep and melodical - Nathalie was thinking this was all too weird. She held the book open in front of her again. And...there it was. The page the book had opened to had it right there, plain as day...one word. Love.

Flash Fiction November 2007 by AO

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