Image from Mag 66
Sally sat on her couch, glancing at the river through her window, while she eased her mind away from the thoughts that preoccupied her for last many days. She kept the book closer to her chest as if she was embracing someone. Even in her calmness, her eyes glowed like that of a conqueror. Last many days, this old book from the village library has given her a reason to come alive, a welcome break from her monotonous life with no purpose. She travelled a lot and visited as many libraries she could as she tried to put final touches on her research paper on “libraries and its influence on social life in villages.”Mulford, a sleepy village was her last stop.
Three days back, while visiting the Mulford library along with a kid in her new neighborhood, she never thought that she would find so many old books there. She just scrambled through the books casually until the slip on a book caught her attention. “289.6 CRI”. There was no name of the author or publisher on the side, unlike other books. The dilapidated binding showed its age. When she flipped the pages, she felt the smell of past hidden within its soul. She lent the book out of sheer curiosity. She realized that the book was relatively a new book for library, as was kept amongst recent arrivals section. From the librarian, she learned that one old man has recently donated it along with other seven books recently. Though tried to find the name of the donor, librarian refused to reveal the identity as it was against the rules of library. She had an intuition that she knew the donor somehow.
While walking back to her home, she recollected that she has once tried to take this book from a library in her hometown Salford, as she stared at the code all along. Back then, she couldn’t as someone had already ordered for that book. Though she tried to get this book for many months 10 years back, she was told that someone hasn’t returned the book. After reading the book, she found a new energy in her life. However, she wasn’t sure about the reason behind her rejuvenation. She spent major part of her life on books and studies. Finally, loneliness has taken toll on her journey as she missed her long-lost husband more with each day. She had given up his fortune to lead a nomadic lifestyle of travelling along the sleepy towns and villages to find the soul of libraries. All along, she hoped to find this old book somewhere.
At night, she sat on the steps outside the house, watching the flames arising from the pages of the book. She warmed her hands with its heat. “My freedom lies in fire”, the book she enjoyed reading became ashes. She collected it in her hand and threw it in air as if releasing pigeons. Indeed, she has freed the soul of book just as the author wished. It was the only copy of that book printed by the writer himself in a quest to get a publisher. He tried his whole life to get a reader. However, he could not get one. He carried this book along with him to the small towns and villages he visited for work and displayed it on libraries. With time, the book caught up with tears and wears of ageing just as much as his own beard. In every library, he donated the book, but somehow stole it away after seeing it without takers. Every day, he used to go to library to see if it’s still there. However, Mulford was his last stop as he had lost his hope! He donated his only fortune, the eight books, to the library. She whispered, goodbye Jonathan Jopster. A name nobody will remember nor will know. But, she will keep the name in her heart for rest of the life.
Two days earlier, she came across the news that a long bearded man found dead on the river, nearer to library. She went to the spot out of curiosity. She realized that the old man might be the one who donated the book to the library. The librarian acknowledged it, even as refused to reveal the name. She saw him in every library she visited. It may be mere coincidence. Sometimes, she wondered whether she was following him or other way around. Libraries were the one common interest that kept them meeting from distance, though they didn’t know each other and their mottos. She always has noticed that he never took any book, but sat on bench staring at some stands. Then after few days, he will vanish. As it didn’t affect her, she never tried to talk to him nor tried to find the reason for his visits to the places she visit. She became curios about the book as she felt that there might be some clue about the old man in it.
While reading, she came across one page in which she found just these words, “My freedom lies in fire. I carried this burden all my life. I can’t bear it anymore. I might not exist while you read this. I am grateful to you for reading. You have fulfilled my dream by reading my story. I don’t think, there will be another afterwards, like before you. So, burn this book and throw the ashes in air and free my soul.” Jonathan Jopster
Written on prompt Mag 66 @ Magpie Tales . Visit there to experience other writers creations. Thanks.