The current challenge for The Spot Writers is to use three of the four words: radio, dress, attic, photo. This week’s writing comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Her most recent publication, BETWEEN THESE PAGES, is a compilation of 18 short stories. The book is available on Amazon and Smashwords:
Augustus slammed the journal on the table. It’s blank, fill it up, he said. Tell me what life is all about.
I stared at the leather book. A strip of elastic held the cover closed. What is this, I asked.
I flipped the cover. The pages were empty. I don’t want this. My thoughts are my own. Private. I looped the elastic back over the cover and threw it back at him. You fill it up. I’ll read your words rather than you reading mine.
Aghast, Augustus’ eyes bulged. I discerned a tear, though why he’d cry over me was a mystery. My doorbell had just rung; we had just met. Augustus stood there when I opened the door. For some reason, I invited him in and led him to my kitchen. Sit down, I said. I’ll make you a cup of tea.
My name’s Augustus, he said.
That’s when he produced the book—the journal he carried inside his coat, hidden from me. Perhaps he thought if I had seen it, I wouldn’t have invited him in. But I would have. I didn’t know the mystery of journals then, didn’t know their power. Didn’t know they harboured secrets—all of our secrets.
When I threw the book at him, he left. Not a thank you for the tea, glad to have met you—nothing. Just got up, waddled to the front door, and disappeared. His cup of tea sat on the table, untouched, as if I had served a ghost, an invisible man. The journal lay behind on the floor—the only reminder Augustus had existed.
I stared at the brown leather journal after Augustus left. The book was easily recognizable as a journal, for it had no lettering on the spine or on the cover. The taut elastic across the front cover was another clue it was something other than a novel.
I tried to turn away from the journal, look somewhere else, but the blank pages drew me toward it, as if a magnet lay on the first page. I couldn’t touch it again. My fingers would surely burn if I did; that was my greatest fear.
I sucked my fingers, as if they had been singed, despite the fact I hadn’t touched the object, then dried them on my lavender dress. The lace edging caught in one of my fingernails, tore it. I picked at the nail, more to keep myself occupied and my mind off the book of empty pages that waited for words to make it whole.
It was necessary I go to the attic—climb those many creaky stairs and enter that dusty storehouse of treasures and memories. Though it had been numerous years since I had been there, I remembered it well: The sole small window, like an ornate framed photo adorning a blank wall, breathes life into the airless room; the trunk sits below the window.
Similar to a cloak of many colours, the trunk holds memories, shades of lives and living preserved forever—until the key is inserted into the lock. Until then, the lid remains closed. I alone possessed that key.
Hidden from view and held within folds of the silky fabric draped over my body, the key’s hardness weighed upon me. Augustus, despite my unwillingness to know the truth—to face the truth—had awoken something in me, had stirred a desire. The key, too heavy to carry any longer, became weightier the longer I dwelled on the situation. The attic beckoned. I had no choice but to face my demons. I’d have to go to the attic, unlock the trunk. Then—and only then—could I write my story.
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The Spot Writers- our members:
Catherine A. MacKenzie