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Little Black Book

by Maariya about a year ago in psychological
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By Maariya Rehman

It was a dark, dusty, disgusting day. The sky was pitch black and shadowy. The climate was shrinking to a minus degree. The fog was slowly expanding. In such a weather that screamed the imperativeness of staying inside, I bravely stepped outside the front door of my haven and headed down the street. It had been months since I had visited the outside, and I knew if I failed to push myself to go out today, I did not know when I next would. The comfort of the bubble I had created for myself at home was starting to engulf my complete existence. However, if there was one place that came close to that feeling of assurance, it was the small high street library that bravely stood a few streets away. For as far back as my memory serves me, I had been visiting that library. Whether it be the early trips I took with my grandad at the age of 5, or the weekend visits I made with my sister at age 11 as part of our walks; that place had always been the place to go for when I needed an escape. So much so, that I was certain I had read every book in the fiction section at least twice. However today was the day that confidence was going to be doubted for the very first time. The journey to the library was usually around a fifteen-minute walk. With my eyes on the road, my mind in the clouds, and my eardrums dancing to the sound of the kpop music blasting through my earphones, I headed on my way.

“Good morning, Lindsey!” greeted the lady at the welcome desk as I attempted to scurry past her. She was an old and frail looking being who still managed to somehow hold entire galaxies in her eyes. The wisdom of life shining like a halo above her head, as if she were just an avatar in this make-believe world. I never had the confidence, or quite found the right opening to ask her name, but even so that little greeting from her always made my day. I hoped she knew that. I hoped she gathered that small bit of gratitude from the way my eyes widened at the sound of her exclamatory words. I walked on, wishing her well internally, straight through to the fiction section. Upon arrival I could see everything was exactly how it had been on my last visit. A circular shaped room with the lines of the wall covered in books and a small desk like podium at the entrance. On the podium lay nothing but a large old black book where visitors were welcome to leave messages. It had become a habit of mine to read some of the messages as a way of oozing my brain out of my bubble world, and into the world of books. I confidently walked on towards it and opened the pages. It was mostly blank with a few sentences, and a couple of autographs others had left as if they were a celebrity. I picked up the book and flicked through the pages one last time in case I missed something. To my amaze, the very last page of the book read the words “Lindsey”. I paused. Dumbfounded. Questioning whether I was seeing things. Vision always had been the weakest of my five senses. I repeated the process in case my eyes were seeing things. But no, it was there. Someone had written my name followed by the words, “go to page 23 of the very first book you read here”. My mind wavered, taking a few minutes to process. Was this some kind of game? Surely not. But the instructions were clearly individual to me, with directions only I could follow. I decided to play along. I had nothing to lose.

I clearly remembered my first book. It was a small one, with a black cover, titled ‘The Devil’s Footsteps’. Within a few minutes I located it and promptly turned to page 23. Right in the bottom in blue pen were written the words “page 76, your favourite Darren Shan book”. “What is this?” I thought, some type of second level security. I had clearly read too many mystery books at this point, but I would be lying if I didn’t say this was the most serotonin my brain had been provided with. I decided to continue. “my favourite Darren Shan book…”. My brain immediately took me to the first book of the demonata series, titled “The Demon Thief”. The one that got me hooked onto his books. That must be it. I located the book and followed the instructions. As expected, there were more words. But this time it was a poem:

A gift from your mother I was told to keep

In a little black book is buried deep

At the end of the row on the second side

Is where the treasure hides

My eyes widened. Surely not. I had never known my mother. I had only heard about her through faint descriptions that only went as far as depicting her appearance. From what I had gathered she was a mysterious woman who attracted attention wherever she went, yet chose to live in seclusion, where she would just write her life away; emptying the demons that occasionally invaded her mind. Maybe that’s why books came naturally to me, why I often felt like reading was engraved in my DNA. I never quite understood why her chosen way of life had no room for me, but it was a reality that existed before I even knew what reality meant, and so I had no choice but to accept it gracefully. If she were meant to be a part of my life she would have been, I had told myself. I gazed up, holding back the tears that were beginning to form. This was not the time or place for those. My mind went back to the poem. “Little black book, little black book”. My mind echoed the words as my eyes scanned the second side, working in unison. Just when I was beginning to give up hope, I caught sight of it buried behind the books. Although small, the book seemed quite big in thickness. I quickly took it out. On the cover read the words “Little black book”. It could not have been more obvious I told myself, laughing at my dumbness from within. The book was locked with a four-number code, I instinctively entered my birthday. In movies it usually was this, and reality did not disappoint. The book unlocked.

While the book looked ordinary on the outside, once opened it was unreadable. The book was in fact a safe designed in the shape of a book. There was a square shape cut out in the middle of the centre page, where usually words filled with the ability to widen ones’ imagination would lie. Instead, in that square abyss lay a bundle of notes with a band wrapped them labelled 20k. My eyes widened as if by reflex. I quickly slammed the book shut and looked around. I had so many questions, all leading back to the most obvious one, “Why?”. There was nobody around. The library was yet to be filled. I quickly carried my feet to the nearest table and chair and sat down. I placed the little black book in front of me. Black usually carried such negative and dark connotations, but in my life, it had always been my comfort colour. I liked not knowing; being as lost and as oblivious as I could in the blinding darkness. I could not help but recognise the irony, that if I were to ever come across such wealth the colour black would somehow find a way to be associated with the moment. Usually, I would not think twice before handing in found money but in this moment, I could not turn a blind eye. This was clearly meant for me. But why? And why like this? I buried my head in my table, deliberating my options. I decided to take the book home. There was no library sticker or stamp on it. All I had to do was carry it out. I picked up the book and headed out.

The closer I got to the entrance, the heavier I could feel the sweat droplets on my forehead becoming. With the door in sight, I could feel the tension easing. Just then, out of nowhere a figured appeared in front of me.

“leaving so soon?”.

It was lady from the welcome desk. Suddenly not looking so frail and old.


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