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Life Unwritten

by Johanna de Boer about a year ago in literature
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It had been passed down for generations since what seemed like the dawn of time. Those who protected it were chosen by a select council made up of men and women who were chosen carefully and secretly by someone who was even more careful and secret. That someone was so secret that no one knew who they were either. This Little Black Book. The Holy Grail of recycled paper and leather. This little book designed to look so ordinary it was beautiful. So simple it was refined. And it held secrets to the very human civilization that existed today. Those that knew the Order of Caretakers even existed spent every moment of every day making sure that no one knew that they knew, because everyone knew what happened when someone slipped up. They knew the consequences of exposing the knowledge that this book existed, Well, they didn’t actually know what the consequences were, but they knew they were a secret within a secret, and of course, with that many secrets involved it must be very dire. Something truly horrible and unthinkable. Like pancakes with no maple syrup, pizza with no pineapple, or, and I can hardly think about this, it's so horrible, a Canadian who never ever apologizes. All things that even the most horrible person would admit, go way way too far into uncharted territory. And no one likes uncharted territory because it is, well, so, uncharted. So, according to those who were chosen to remember and to protect this little black book held within its pages the answer to something important. Right?

These are the questions that a very confused Marguarite kept asking herself as she stared at that black little notebook and the thick envelope that she had been given along with it. Apparently she was a Caretaker, whatever that actually is. And the envelope. So thick and squishy. She had taken a tiny peek inside and was so stunned she hadn't gotten around to the notebook that she was supposed to take care of, never acknowledge the existence of, and never, ever open or look inside.

All thoughts and intentions flew out of her ears. Money. It was full of money. There must be about $20,000 in cash inside the envelope, and she had truthfully never seen that much money well, ever. Especially not all in one pile. The note on the top of that colourful pile said that the money was hers. For what they, whomever they were, called “incidentals" while protecting the book. When her doorbell rang this morning she had thought maybe it was a package delivery sent to the wrong address again. Or something else just as benign. Nothing ever really exciting ever happened to her and certainly not something secret and exciting. She blinked her eyes and gave her head a shake. The secret answer to civilization and human existence was in her hands and she was to protect it. This must be a prank of some sort, but the $20,000 in the other hand was pretty great. On the one hand, literally, she had a beautiful little black notebook containing the greatest secret in existence, and she couldn't even take a peek. In the other hand, money; and more than she had ever seen, and she could keep it all if she didn't do, well, the thing on the other hand.

She got up and tried to figure out a way to do it and have both. Some loophole in the agreement. She couldn’t though, no matter how hard she tried, because there actually wasn't an agreement. More like an edict. A proclamation if it were to be told. Out of nowhere, she gets a stranger telling her to tell no one. She asked why, but they gave her a haughty look with crazy “woo woo” eyes and proclaimed the edict again in deep, dramatic tones before turning and walking away with their chins held so high one of them ran into a garbage can, and the other crashed their lower body straight into a fire hydrant. She giggled a bit hysterically, took a deep breath, and closed the door. This really was a conundrum.

The longer she held this soft, small, beautiful little book, the bigger and heavier it seemed. She looked back and forth, hand to hand, book with THE Secret to life or $20,000 in cash. She stood up. Then dropped back down on the chair again. Nope, she couldn't do it. She had lived without fat envelopes of cash before and she could still, but she had never seen or known the Secret of Human Existence before. Never had an opportunity to find out since it was a secret and everything, but here she was. Supposedly holding it in her hand. How could she not look? Maybe that was what she was supposed to do? Maybe she was supposed to decide whether she wanted to look or not. She put the money in her pocket and lifted the little black book.

Taking a deep breath, she held it with both hands and slowly opened the cover. This is it, the Secret to Human Existence, passed down from century to century by word of mouth, song, story and finally this little black book. She looked down at the page and smiled. She turned every page slowly. With smiles, tears, and laughter, she paged through her entire life so far. All the joy, fear, grief, and most of all, love she had found throughout the years until this moment. It continued until she reached the middle of the book, and then it stopped. For the second half of the book was empty. Empty, but ready to be written. Holding the book, she crossed to the window and looked out and did a double take. For everyone outside held beautiful little books of every shape, size and colour. Some were crying, some laughing, and all, all were in the process of living.


About the author

Johanna de Boer

I live a life of constant choices. To not just survive but live with purpose. Mental & physical health, loss of a child & parent. But also a life of love & laughter. Every day I choose. My experiences mold me, they are not who i am.

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