A Book's Tale


There was a time when I was clutched tightly and revered, picked up gently and often by familiar hands that turned the pages with eager anticipation of my chapters. I was cherished. The words that are tattooed into my pages inspired and influenced, they were quoted and recited at podiums and dinner parties alike. I was loved, but more importantly, I was relevant. I sat on a shelf rubbing covers with the classics, waiting to be chosen. Waiting for an old friend.

Instead we were stacked and set in a box where I found myself in an attic amongst out of date clothes, a toaster oven, and antique wooden chairs. The elements were harsh, my pages wrinkled and warped from moisture and heat. Years went by, my contents lay molded and musty until the day heavy footsteps shook the attic floor. There was light! The box was thrust opened and large, clumsy hands plunged in, yanking me out and inspecting my contents. My bind howled in protest, tight and out of shape from the years of rest.

Any hopes of a renaissance were short lived as there, along with others, I was used to prop open the attic door as the chairs and antiques were hauled down the steps and into the yard. The three of us, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and I, were stacked on the floor, performing work better suited for a brick than a novel. Hope was lost. The children we had watched grow into adults now had children of their own who held gadgets that beeped and illuminated their round faces. We remained on the floor as nothing but weight against a door.

The old house was emptied of its warmth and stripped of its belongings. The first item to go was the dining room table where Mr. and Mrs. Vaughan enjoyed many home cooked dinners in their early days of marriage. Next, were paintings that Mrs. Vaughan had brought home from the gallery and then the chaise lounge where we had spent so many evenings together. Bit by bit, everything was picked through as they came in like vultures off the street to rummage through a lifetime of belongings. The furniture, the lamps, and even the rugs off of the floor were rolled up and taken away with little regard to footsteps that once walked over them.

And we sat, ignored and unwanted by the strangers in the house, discarded by those who knew so little about us. It had been us who Mrs. Vaughan had turned to on those late nights, as she waited in vain for her husband to come home. It was us who were there for her when she was alone, a bottle of wine and a jazz record playing softly in the background. And it was us who were there to comfort her after the divorce, her pain spilling out on my pages as she was swept into tears by the whirl of emotion derived from my contents. Like her tears, my pages had dried, but only after absorbing the salt into their being, leaving rippled spots of evidence on pages 162-165.

Yes, I know her well. It was I who was chosen 75 years ago by a young girl in stockings, who saved her coins and spent her allowance on me. We had grown together, in her bedroom, as soft hands turned my pages while her mind began to comprehend my contents. Together we had gone off to college and afterwards were inseparable on vacations and holiday travels. It was I, who--as the golden years set in and my pages yellowed and shriveled as her skin wrinkled--faithfully remained as family became scarce, too busy with their own lives to visit. And finally it was I, who like her had been shut into a box upon her death after 88 years of life, a life we had spent together.

My appearance is not what it once was, my pages are delicate and brittle while my cover is creased and bent, but the story I hold is timeless. With the house almost empty I’m picked from the stack on the floor and my pages are fumbled with little patience. I’m passed from one set of hands to the next, as if I were an ancient relic until suddenly I am held by what feels like familiar hands. Soft hands that I haven’t felt in ages. Inspecting hands that open me, and then slowly, I'm read. My opening sentences are absorbed, just like so many years ago. The fingers touch and turn my pages, slowly at first but then picking up, eagerly awaiting the story that I am happy to tell again.

Copyright 2012 Pete Fanning

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Comments 17 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

What a beautiful piece of writing, Pete! This was a joyful present on a rainy Friday morning. Thank you for showing others how good the written word is when used properly.

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Bill, I greatly appreciate the kind words!

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Whoa...I just saw this on my feed...is that you, Pete!?! K...going back to read now. LOLOL

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Cool read! A literary present. :) It makes me think of the phrase, "never judge a book by its cover." I am staring at this ancient (to me) copy of "War and Peace" on my shelf. I should get to reading it. Crime and Punishment traumatized me, though. Haha.

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Yep, it's me! Thanks for reading Cyndi, good luck with that War and Peace!

austinhealy profile image

austinhealy 4 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

Beautifully nostalgic and touching. Your prose is true poetry, Weestro!

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thank you austinhealy, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it!

Highland Terrier profile image

Highland Terrier 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Beautiful, touching .

voted up and beautiful. There should be another button for work like this,

Awesome is near but somehow it misses the emotion involved, gently inspiring? maybe.

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Highland! I really appreciate it!

carter06 profile image

carter06 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

I loved loved loved this weestro...it is just a beautiful reminder of things that are so valuable...thanks for this great piece of writing & wonderful story VUUAB & shared...cheers

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Carter, glad you enjoyed it!

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Weestro, I caught this earlier but wanted to stop in to officially give support. I love books and some of mine are really worn and I guess that is a good sign. I love the message here.

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thank you for reading and commenting teaches!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean

Beautiful, creative and meaningful. Cheers to those good old friends called books, and to people like you weestro, who remind us of what they mean to us!

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Ms Dora, cheers to you too!

Ashley Suddreth profile image

Ashley Suddreth 3 years ago

I am new around here, but this was the first hub I read. Beautiful! I just wish I knew what the book was in this piece. But I guess that's the beauty of it. I as the reader get to make that decision. Again, this was amazing!

weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Welcome to Hubpages Ashley, and I'm thrilled you enjoyed my story. I really didn't have a book in mind when I wrote it, but like you said, you can make the decision!

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