The little black book had been in her family for generations. Every year, the bearer of this book would open it on it’s birthday and read the new prophecy. It was Eva’s turn to read the book. You never knew what the book would announce: war, marriage, death. Sometimes it would be good news, sometimes terrible. This year Eva prayed it would be some kind of clues to get money: surprised inheritance, the PowerBall numbers, anything would do. She was broke like she had never been before!
The strange burden had befallen on Eva’s shoulders as her elder sister had passed away the previous year. The responsibility went down the line. If she died, her little sister would inherit it; otherwise, her children would, and their children after them.
Someone had to be in charge of the book at all times.
Tomorrow was the book’s birthday, the day Eva had to open it and read it. She was scared. To be honest, she was terrified. She did not want the burden, and she had not chosen to be in charge of this.
What am I supposed to do with the knowledge? If someone's death is announced, am I supposed to let them know?
No one told her what to do with the book’s information. She felt the tight leather covering the little black book. Even though the book was a century old, it felt fresh off the press. She didn’t know how the book had come into her family, just that it had been passed down from generation to generation.
The book was only opened once a year, on it’s birthday, April 22nd. What a random date. She had looked over her history books and even Wikipedia to try and find some relevant event that would explain the book’s birthday. There had been so many events all around the world, so many births and deaths on April 22nd - of every year, and of every calendar.
Perhaps that was it, just another day in the life of humanity and the world. The rest of the year, the book felt like a brand new book, so perfectly made. It felt like no one had ever opened it’s pages. Actually, no one could open the book, except on April 22nd. The rest of the year, the book was tightly sealed: no tool, knife, screw driver, or razor blade could unlock the pages.
Eva took a valium and went to bed, tucking the book under her pillow. The drug quickly calmed her racing mind and her beating heart. She drifted off to sleep, a deep dreamless slumber.
When she woke up the next morning, she immediately reached for the little black book. Her hand came back empty. She woke fully, startled. She sat right up, threw her pillow away. No book. NO BOOK!!?? She looked behind her bed, under the covers, under the other pillow. She was frantic. The book was gone. She looked all around her bedroom. Nothing... The door and windows were closed. There was no one in her flat. She got up and pushed her mattress away, hoping the book had just slipped between the bed frame and the headboard. Nothing.
Oh. my. God. What now? She was frantic, looking all over her bedroom, throwing her clothes, covers, blankets...everything in her path... Nothing! Nothing, nothing, nothing... Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.. Her mind swirled with panic. She sat heavily on the corner of her undone bed, her breathing erratic. She had to calm down, panic wasn’t helping her think clearly. She took a deep, long, shuddering breath, and another, and finally one more - holding it in for as long as she could. Blowing it out slowly, her thoughts finally slowed down.
It was not possible. It just wasn't possible. No one could have entered her flat. All windows were shut and the front door was still locked. So if no one could have entered to take the book, it should still be here. She just had to calm down and look around. She got up, put her bathrobe on and went into the kitchen. A good strong cup of coffee would help her think clearly. She pulled her favorite mug out of the cupboard, ground some Ethiopian coffee beans, added a dash of cardamom and prepared the drip.
While the water was heating up, she went to the fridge to grab some half and half. And there, in between the leftovers from last night and the jar of kimchi: the little black book. Wait, what? She reached for the book. Yep, it was cold; it had been in the fridge all along. Was she losing it? She placed the book on the counter and finished preparing her coffee. Her mind blank, she went through the motion of making her cup, too stunned to think.
Finally, she grabbed her fresh cup of coffee, the book, and went to sit at her dining room table.
She sipped the fragrant beverage slowly, hoping it would help her remember placing the book in the fridge… but no, she remembered placing the book under her pillow and falling fast asleep.
Could she sleep walk? She had never done that before. Could the book be responsible? Why would the book want to be placed in the fridge? Oh my god, it was crazy! Goddam book, no way! Could this strange little black book have a mind of its own? Could it influence it’s bearer? Could it be responsible for her sister’s death last year? Oh god, her thoughts were racing again. Another deep breath, another sip of her coffee.
She was probably not going to get an answer today, and she had to open the book. Perhaps she was going to get an answer. She was hesitant… She had 24 hours to read the book. The pages were unsealed; she could already see the breadth of space in between them, as if the book had relaxed after being tightly shut for 364 days.
Her fear was now mingled with curiosity.
She decided to take a shower and clean up her bedroom before reading the book. Who knows what she’d learn, and she wanted to be ready. Dressed and clear headed after her shower, she finally was ready to open the book.
She slowly caressed the cover, feeling the pages softly under her fingertips. She was ready but still hesitant. Waiting any longer wouldn’t help with the anxiety growing in her chest. She opened the book at random, not knowing where the prophecy was written.
The book complied and opened, as if of its own accord, to a random page indeed. Looking down, Eva saw a series of arrows. Arrows. There was not a single word on the page! Just random looking arrows: some straight, some to the left, some twirling, some up, some down.
Goodness gracious! What am I Supposed to do with this?? thought Eva flabbergasted. After all the anxiety build up, it was utterly disappointing and probably useless.
She slammed the book on the table, and got up exasperated. It was a beautiful day outside. After all, no need to waste such a lovely day on a stupid book.
Still, after getting her coat and boots on, she grabbed the book and placed it in her bag, just in case. She ran out the door, half annoyed and half relieved, happy actually. Today was a free pass day: no work, no responsibility, and given the “prophecy” the book had announced, she felt liberated!
Once out the door of her apartment building, she stopped for a second considering her options. Humm.. what if..? she whispered to herself, and pulled the book out of her bag. She found the arrow pages immediately.
The first arrow pointed to the right, and so her first step took her in that direction. She decided to walk for as long as she enjoyed it in that direction, and would use the book the next time she’d wondered which way to go. She spent the next couple hours exploring her city in a strange and fascinating new way. Even though she had been living here for over 15 years and thought she knew the place pretty well, she discovered new things at every turn! Streets she had never seen, shops she had never visited, parks and trees entirely new to her!
What a treat! The book’s prophecy was turning into a fabulous adventure.
Feeling her feet tiring, Eva looked around to find a bench or something she could sit on for a bit. Just a few feet away was a lovely looking little park and a very appealing bench - set alongside a pond with a ray of sunshine falling onto it. Sitting down, Eva took the little black book out of her pocket again and looked at the next arrow on the page. She was in no hurry to move, her feet now delighting in being off duty. On the page, the arrows looked almost animated, a slow and windy movement. How strange. Eva looked around slowly, and paid close attention to the details. The pond water had a lovely pink hue, the ducks swimming had really large eyes, the butterflies were the most stunning creatures Eva had ever seen. They shimmered in the sunshine, pearlescent and looking almost translucent.
Suddenly, Eva realized that she had never ever seen this park in the 15 years she had lived here, never even heard of it. What was the name of this park? Wait a second.. I don’t think I know where I am anymore.. She stood up slowly, stepped outside the park, and looked for a street sign. There was grass on the sidewalk, a few flowers were blooming.
When she looked at the book again, a large Chesshire cat-like smile appeared across the pages… ohhh woahh... Something surprising was happening to Eva. She was feeling really light, really happy, really well for the 1st time in… god! Forever!
The large smile in her book was so beautiful, she couldn’t help but smile back at it. A lovely crystalline laugh escaped the pages, and she started laughing as well. Everything was so beautiful and sparkling around her! Eva couldn’t believe her eyes! It was stunning. Little creatures were blooming here and there. An albino squirrel was staring at her, its fur white as snow, his eyes a deep blue. The squirrel said, “Eva, I love you.. you’re the most angelic creature ever created, please let me lick your eyelids.” Eva, delighted by the compliment, offered her face, eyes closed, to the squirrel. She felt the tiny paws on her cheeks, and suddenly a tiny tongue was languorously licking her eyelids.. Haaa… heaven, the little tongue felt so good… it was so good it made her laugh, at first just a giggle, then cascading laughter, intense howling, reaching an almost hysterical roar.
She woke up, startled by the dying laughter in her throat.
She reached under her pillow and instead of the little black book, found a stack of $100 bills. Pulling the pile of money from under her pillow, not entirely sure of what was going on, she counted the money… $20,000.