The Book

A short story

The Book

Angelina sighed as she snapped her book shut. Nothing was ever interesting any more. The words on the page all blurred together and her motivation had gone out the window. Where was the wonder? The panache? The little extra something that made reading worth while. She tilted her head back and stared at the ceiling. Squinting, she attempted to make shapes out of paint splotches and cracks. Nothing. She could hear the sounds of the house: her mother walking to the kitchen upstairs, her father puttering in the garage, her dog yapping in the backyard. Groaning, she stood up from her armchair and stretched, attempting to get some feeling back in her legs. As she made her way over to her bookshelf, Angelina slowly began to think of her collection. As her eyes skimmed over titles, they were all nixed. Too dramatic, she thought, not dramatic enough, boring, boring, read it too much, boring, boring, aagh! She flopped helplessly against her bed. This was getting ridiculous. There should be at least one book that would be able to hold her attention. Making up her mind, Angelina straightened her shirt and strode out of her room. She made sure to tell her mother that she was going out, probably to the library, and she would be back before supper. Her mother sent her off with a smile and a kiss. Angelina shoved her feet into her shoes and she was off.

As she walked, Angelina thought of what kinds of stories she would like to read. She filtered through her own catalogue, thinking of her favourite stories and why she liked them. What about a mystery? she thought, grinning at the idea of a thrilling and gripping page-turner that would enthrall her deep into the night. Her pace quickened as she thought of all the stories that held magnificent twists in them, stories that simply absorbed her attention, taking her out of the realm of reality.

Angelina began to jog through the trees, hoping to get to her destination faster. If only I could fly, she thought, or maybe teleport! I would get everywhere so much faster! She stumbled in her excitement, but quickly caught herself and kept going.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw something fly by. Or, rather, someone. Angelina’s pace faltered and she slowed to a stop. She turned to her right, eyes straining to see beyond the shadows of the trees. As she tread closer to the line of trees, a pair of vibrant green eyes looked back at her. Angelina jerked back onto the path, arms coming up in defence. The eyes blinked inquisitively, tilting slightly as if the head to which it belonged was quirking its head. Angelina could feel her breath quicken, feeling her pulse jump in her throat. She turned slightly, attempting to move away from the eyes. As soon as the vivid green eyes blinked, Angelina took off. Not getting caught by some freaky eyes today. No sir! she thought as she tore down the forest path. Her feet pounded with the rhythm of her heart, thumping solidly on the dirt path of the forest floor. As she broke through the trees onto the sidewalk, she bent over, hands on her knees, sucking in air. As soon as she caught her breath, she turned slightly to assess the trees she had emerged from. If she strained her eyes, Angelina could almost make out a figure in the distance. The two spots of green hovered in the air, staring at her. Angelina shuddered before turning back towards civilization and continued her journey to the library in search of the perfect book.

As soon as she entered into the building of stories, Angelina completely lost track of time. The outside world faded away as she delved into the pages of various books and attempted to find one that would truly immerse her. By the time she looked up from her stack of books, Angelina noticed that the sky had begun to darken. She mentally cursed herself for not paying attention. Her cellphone had dinged earlier, and it was a message from her mother telling her not to stay out too late. Angelina sighed and replaced some of the books she would not be taking with her. She ended up with a mystery novel, a teenage fantasy story, and an intriguing thriller that had caught her eye. It never hurt to diversify one's learning material, Angelina supposed. Once everything was checked out, she emerged into the brisk evening air. She sent her mother a message, letter her know that she was on her way back to the house.

"Great," Angelina muttered, shifting her bag of books on her shoulder, "back through the trees." Though she had made this journey countless times before, the haunting green eyes had really unsettled her. She took a deep, fortifying breath as she approached the wall of trees, grimacing at the impending darkness. Squaring her shoulders, she breached the line and pressed her way into the shadows. As soon as she crossed into the trees, the remaining sunlight disappeared completely. Angelina fumbled for her phone, pulling it out of her pocket and turning on the flashlight. She pointed it slightly ahead, making sure she didn't trip on any roots. As she walked, she listened to the faint crunch of dirt and leaves under her feet, and the sound soothed her somewhat. A deep breath settled her, as she inhaled the smell of the trees that she loved. After walking for quite some time, Angelina began to feel goosebumps on her arms and a chill down her neck. She tried to shake off the feeling, shrugging it off as nonsense. It wasn't until she saw the feet in the beam of her flashlight that she knew she was in trouble. She stopped dead in her tracks, looking at the feet standing in front of her. Angelina slowly raised her flashlight, seeing the legs that connected to the feet, the arms and torso, and finally the head. The vibrant green eyes from earlier stared back. Angelina tried to jerk away, but her gaze was captivated by the mysterious stranger. They don't even look human, Angelina noted, looking at the strange outfit and ethereal glow.

"Greetings, young one," the being said, the soft tones of their voice sweeping over Angelina, "I am Cypress of the Forest Green. I have seen you quite often, walking through these woods, and you have certainly intrigued me." Angelina was powerless against the powerful creature. Her eyes widened as she realized she was stuck in place. Cypress smiled gently at her, eyes shimmering in sympathy. Angelina tried to open her mouth to scream or yell, but her jaw was tightly shut and she was unable to make any noise.

"Worry not, youngling. I do not wish to harm you." Cypress folded their hands in front of them. As the being spoke, Angelina's eyes darted around. She was able to see that Cypress' outfit seemed to be made out of leaves and bark, which made for a strange choice of clothing. Angelina noted that, due to the outfit choice and the wispy brown hair, the creature in front of her seemed to be part of the trees themselves. Her eyes jerked around again, looking for some way to get herself out of this mess. That was when she noticed the mushrooms. How could she have been so stupid as to let herself get trapped in a Fae Circle. Her eyes closed as she took a deep breath. She could hear the wind rustling in the trees, as well as the weight of the books on her shoulder. She slowly opened her eyes, only to see Cypress smirking softly in her direction. Angelina rolled her eyes in exasperation at the creature, knowing she would have to use all of her cleverness to escape this situation. Unfortunately, she still couldn't feel her limbs, as she was still seemingly frozen under whatever spell manifested in the circle. Cypress approached Angelina, slowly taking one step after another. She strained in an attempt to move away from the creature, but her spine remained ramrod straight. Cypress' eyes glinted, moving closer to her, smile deepening into something more wicked. All Angelina could do was gasp before everything went dark.

Angelina jerked awake in her armchair, book sprawled across her chest. Her breathing was heavy as she adjusted to the world around her. She glanced around nervously, looking for the glinting green that had haunted her nightmare. Finding nothing of suspicion, Angelina turned her attention to her book that had fallen to her lap in her struggle to search around. As she picked it up, she looked at the cover and immediately dropped it again. The book landed with a soft thud on the carpeted floor. Those eyes, Angelina shuddered. Slowly, she reached down and gingerly picked the book up. On the cover was the being from her nightmare, Cypress, who was smiling up at her. She carefully flipped open the book, attempting to find her last known page. As she skimmed through it, she noticed that the characters in her book had gone through the same journey as her nightmare. Breathing a sigh of relief, Angelina put the book on her side table, stood up, and stretched. She slowly ambled downstairs to the kitchen, placing all the thoughts of Cypress and her nightmare out of her head.

After all, it was only just a book.

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Delaney O’Flaherty
See all posts by Delaney O’Flaherty