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Lost and Found

From Despair to Hope

By E.N. GusslerPublished 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 5 min read
(c) EN Gussler 2016

The ground beneath me is cold and damp. I can feel it seeping through my fractured spine as I rest sprawled out and open. The rain pattering against worn leather, the delicate fingers of the ink soaking up the rain, I wait in utter despair to feel the sun upon my face. This was not the fate I had imagined, to be discarded.

There was a time, not so long ago, when I was treasured. I spent my days tucked into the sweet secure embrace of my cousins. The warmth of sunlight streaming in through the nearby window, the scent of luxurious and exotic tea wafting up from the table before us, and the gentle caress of a reverent hand were my bedfellows.

Those comforts have been stripped from my grasp, and I lay here cold and soaking wet.



When I was roused from my rest this morning, plucked from my cozy slumber and gently tucked into the security of the canvas wrapping, I felt the excitement of an upcoming adventure. It had been ages since I saw the outside world and I longed to feel the breeze again. Overwhelmed with anxious anticipation, I settled myself in for the gentle rocking of the journey.

I peered out of my little hammock, climbing onto the shoulders of another so that I could feel the crisp air tickling my cover. My guide made her way down the steps of a train station, stopping at a bench beside the tracks. The call of the next train blared through the speakers, reverberating through the rafters. The rumble of the train as it pulled into the station, vibrated through my spine, causing me to stumble from my co-passenger’s shoulders. Voices echoed through the metal tube of the train car and I tried to peer out again. A young girl who sat beside us peered in, locking her eyes on me. Her voice, sweet and curious, wrapped around me like a cozy blanket. Strong fingers reached into the canvas, moving my companion over to grasp my spine and lift me into her arms.

Tenderly, our guardian trailed a finger over the worn pattern on my front, a melancholy reverence etched into her gaze. Tiny hands took hold of me, my weight caught her off-guard but she quickly righted herself before I fell. My guardian told her what adventures I could tell, the lands that slept within, and the comfort one finds when curled up with me or one of my cousins. The cherub's eyes widened and her smile grew.

When the train shuddered and abruptly stopped, my guardian rushed a goodbye and darted out the open doors. Terror wracked my body as I watched the train pull away from the station with the guardian searching through the satchel for me. But I was held in the tight grasp of the little angel.

Several stops later, after my pages had been flipped and a corner or two bent to mark a particularly intriguing story, my accidental guardian bounded out into the station, clutching me to her chest as her mother dragged her along by the other hand. Before long, I felt the warmth of the sun radiating from the bench in the park. Thankful for the respite, I welcomed the release lounging here would bring me as the girl dashed off to play. I must have dozed off in the sun because when I woke, I found myself alone and the clouds overhead turning gray. Anxiously I listened for the sound of little footsteps, but as the gray overhead grew into darkness and the bright flash of lightning split the heavens open, my heart sank with the realization that rescue would not come.

The night was cold and lonely. Rain soaked my pages and the wind whipped through them, pulling one loose from my spine. I was sure that it would fly away and the knowledge of what happened next in that story would be lost forever. I dreamed that I fell down a cliff, but when I woke with a start I had only landed beside the bench, knocked off by the wind and rumbles of thunder, I think.

The ground beneath me is cold and damp. My fractured spine aches. Spatters of mud punctuate the delicate lines of ink upon my pages, marring the beautiful prose. The sun has started to ascend into the sky above, warming me. My pages have begun to curl as the water is slowly drying on them. I listen to the cheerful song of the birds as they flit about, a stark contrast to the hollowness of my heart.




The soft crunch of footfalls upon the gravel grows closer. I feel the excitement build and the hope swiftly die when each passerby hurries along the pathway, taking no notice of my waterlogged and wind beaten state. By midafternoon, I find myself merely grateful that their hurried steps do not result in another kick that sends me farther down the walkway or into another puddle. So when I hear the heavy steps come so close to my cover, I brace myself. Only the impact doesn’t come. They halt right next to me, and a strong hand gently lifts me off the saturated earth. Weathered hands wipe the debris free and gingerly closes my cover, turning me every which way in careful inspection. Wrapped gently in a soft kerchief, the gentle giant walks through the park. The sound of dogs and children playing surrounds me, and curiosity seeps in.

The creek of an old hinge.

The hollow echo of shoes clicking across an open floor.

The hushed whispers of voices floating down hallways.

The click of a heavy door, swinging shut behind us.

Gently, cloth is removed from me and I take in my surroundings. The scent of old leather and paper engulf me as the whistle of a kettle rings through the little room. Shelves line the walls, door to windows and back to the door. Laden with books of various sizes, their pages held closed by twine or ribbon. I have not been rescued. I’ve gone where my kind are sent to rot away into dust.

A graveyard.

Panic floods my senses. Exotic tea wafts through the air, pulling me back from the edge of despair. A gruff voice, tinged with age, mutters quietly as he opens my cover. Exposed, he switches on a lamp overhead, directing it onto me as he turns each page, wiping them clean with a soft cloth. Time stretches as his features come in and out of view. His peppered wisps of hair flutter in the breeze from the fan, directed to gently dry my pages. When darkness creeps through the window behind him, another light is turned on and another cup of tea is steeped. The scent of it wrapping me in a familiar embrace.

Once my pages have dried and my spine repaired, he takes a luxurious cloth and some rich oil is massaged into the leather of my cover before I’m gently placed upon a shelf. The low metal shelf cart is wheeled through the heavy door, and past the stacks of newer editions. The old elevator with its wooden gate is barely big enough for my savior and the cart, but the rattle doesn’t seem to bother him. We enter an atrium, lined with shelves and a sign overhead that reads Special Editions & Collections. Realization floods my senses. This is not where my kind come to die. To be forgotten. This is where we come to live.

To be found.

Short Story

About the Creator

E.N. Gussler

Writer. Photographer. World-traveler. Adventurer. Ohio State Alum.

A California native living in Ohio, I pull inspiration from my travels & life around me.


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  • Kendall Defoe 4 months ago

    I almost wept. Beautiful story...and perfect conclusion!

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