Desires Beyond reason

Submitted into Contest #136 in response to: Write a story where hard work doesn’t pay off.... view prompt


Creative Nonfiction Drama Science Fiction


            Elinor Stevencox was average. Average height, average hair, average age. In a crowd of average people, she would pass unnoticed for Elinor Stevencox was as average as can be. Although, Elinor Stevencox wanted to be someone else. She wanted to be something else. Someone worthy of a book!

            Working at a dead-end job, in a dead-end office, squeezed in a cubicle of average size did not fit her standards anymore.

            “I want my life to be in a book one day! She would tell her best friend.

            -Most people in books are dead or fictional, unless you are a president or something. Then you cannot escape the book industry! Replied her friend.

            - I know. Isn’t that great? To live a life that others would think worthy to be remembered. To transmit a legacy to humanity! To have my name on a biography…

            - I am sorry my friend. Your standards are too elevated for me. I feel more concerned by earthly or local matters!

            - You just don’t understand! Replied Elinor Stevencox. But I can tell you this: as of now, I am going to devote my time, my money, my person into becoming somebody!”

            And there she went… To achieve her dream, to nourish her obsession, Elinor Stevencox began by quitting her day job and became very engaged in multiple causes: humanitarian, educational, health and nutrition issues… Within a few weeks, Elinor Stevencox was everywhere, and everybody was talking about her.

            At the homeless shelter, she helped with the distribution of the food. At the public library, she gave talks on health and gardening. At the mayor’s garden party, she entertained the children with fantastic stories.

            One day, she was helping at the food bank when a tall man with a long black coat and a large hood came to her:

            “Looks like you are on the path of becoming someone important, he said.

            -Well, I wouldn’t say that, at least not in those terms. I do my best to serve the community, you see…

            - You will go far if you stay on this path!” Replied the man.

            Elinor began to feel strange in the presence of the man with the black coat.

            -If you will excuse me, sir, I need to go to the pantry. We need… well, we need more cans of carrots. Yes, that’s it, carrots. Good day!”

            This funny encounter left a strange impression deep in Elinor’s heart. An uneasy feeling, like a threat. 

            Although, memory was not Elinor Stevencox’ strength. The encounter was soon to be forgotten.

            On the following Saturday morning, Elinor Stevencox was helping students with their homework at the Educational Center. Her best friend came along:

            - “Hi Elinor, how are you doing? I haven’t seen you that much ever since you began your little quest for fame.

            - Don’t joke about it. I am very engaged at the moment, and I love it! I feel useful. People know me, they call me by my name! and… Oh my head!

            - Elinor, what’s happening? Are you all right?

            -I think, … I think I need to eat something. I haven’t eaten this morning yet. I have been helping here since I woke up!

            - Wait a minute. What about yesterday? Did you eat last night?

            - Not really, no… she replied. I was too tired when I arrived home to cook anything.

            - Yesterday, at all?

            - No… yes, few crackers around 3pm.

            -Elinor, since when haven’t you eaten a real meal?

            - I don’t have time to eat. I must help people!

            - Okay, I understand you want to be famous. But you cannot do that and kill yourself at the same time!

            - You sound exactly like my mother! Leave me alone. Go away!”

            The friend left.

            At 9 pm, Elinor left the Educational Center. She had volunteered there all day, helped thirty-four students with their homework, given three reading classes, and two talks on Good Nutrition and the Brain. She walked to the closest bus stop. Exhausted, she waited over an hour for a bus that would never come. 

            After a while, a tall man with a long black coat and a large hood came to her:

            “Looks like you are on the path of becoming someone important, he said.

            - Who are you? What do you want with me? Why are you following me?

            - You will go far if you stay on this path! Replied the man.

            - My bus is coming, said Elinor standing abruptly. Good night!”

            She climbed hastily on the bus. As it departed, Elinor looked back through the window: the tall man with a black coat and a large hood was looking in her direction. 

            That night, Elinor went straight to bed. Still, she could not sleep.

            On the Sunday morning, Elinor woke up at 5 am, dressed, and caught the bus. Today, she was schedule to volunteer at the hospital all day.

            As she was sitting quietly in the bus, looking through the tainted glass the city still asleep, the bus stopped. One passenger hopped on the bus. A tall man with a long black coat and a large hood who sat next to Elinor: 

            “Looks like you are on the path of becoming someone important, he said.

            - You! You again! What do you want?

            - You will go far if you stay on this path! Replied the man.

            - What do you want with me? Why are you following me? Let me pass. Driver?

            The driver remained deaf to her calls. Elinor looked around: the bus was empty.

            - Leave me alone! Do you hear me? Leave me alone! She yelled almost hysteric.

            - I know what you aim to! Whispered the man. I can help you!

            - I don’t know what you are talking about, Elinor replied, worried.

            - You want fame! You want recognition, he continued with his soft voice. You want people to know you, call you by your name. Write about you! You want your name on a book

            Stupefied, Elinor sat back on her seat, looking at the tall man.

            - Who are you, she barely asked. Fame? Recognition? Yes, yes, a book, a biography about me. How do you know…?

            - I know everything! Said the man raising a bony finger in her direction. Everything. And I can help you achieve your deepest desires.

            - How? What should I do? How much would it cost me? Please, tell me!

            - Oh, you may have to pay me something. Something small, barely significant. Very small, compared to the value of fame and success I can give you!

            - I will pay you anything!

            - Alright then. I just need your signature at the bottom of this document after you read it, and your initials right by mine. Here.

            - D. A. Is that you?

            The man did not reply. Elinor signed the document right away.

            - Now, listen to me carefully. Go to the hospital, do whatever you need to do. Tonight, go to the library. Make sure to be locked in after closing hours and read.

            - Read? Read what?

            - Biographies of famous peoples. Read all the biographies you can find. Every night, come back and read until you have read them all. Don’t miss a night! Your lapse would cancel my engagement.

            - I see… I think I can do that. I love to read. Yes! I can do it! But, … I see, this is my bus stop coming next, said Elinor looking outside the window. If you’ll excuse me, I need to…”

            But no excuses were needed. The tall man with a black coat and a large hood was gone. Elinor was alone on the bus…

            She went to the hospital, worked all day. The thought of the man and his promises didn’t leave her mind one instant. At the end of the day, Elinor went to her usual bus stop. She was alone. She remained alone untill the bus reached the library.

            Elinor Stevencox began to search for all the biographies in the catalog of the library. She looked for the most remote table located in the darkest corner of the library. At the end of the day, when the librarian announced on the speaker that the library was closing its doors, Elinor went and hide in the bathroom.

            And she spent the night reading biographies, one after another. From Roosevelt to Reagan, from Rosa Parks to Abraham Lincoln. She read, and read, and read all night.

            When the morning came, it found her reading a biography of J. F. Kennedy. Elinor gathered all her belongings, went home, and changed. Then she walked to the Children’s Museum for it was Monday, and she would volunteer at the Children’s Museum every Monday. 

            This lasted for weeks. Her friend did not hear from her. Her family either. Time passed. The tall man never came. One night, exhausted, hungry, Elinor contemplated for the first time the possibility of going home, eat, and sleep. She was sitting on the bus at the exact same place, when it stopped. Through the window, the Moon was reflecting its dull light. Elinor turned, the tall man was sitting next to her: 

            “Looks like you are in pass of becoming someone important, he said. I see you have been faithful to your engagements. This is your time, my dear.

            - So, what do I have to do now to be famous and successful?

            - Tonight, go to the library as usual. Go straight to the biography section. Do not talk to anyone, do not look at anyone. There, you will find a book waiting for you.

            - A book? What book? How will I know which one to pick?

            - You will know when you see it!

            - And, what about your payment? When do I pay you? When will I be famous?

            - Tonight, once you find your book… Ah! This is your stop. See you soon!

            At the sight of the ugly dentures, and the bony fingers, Elinor felt a chill down her spine. She stepped out of the bus and walked straight towards the library. Once again, she hid to be locked in.

            Once alone, she looked for the biography section she knew so well and began to browse the shelves. All these biographies, she knew them. She had spent countless hours, sleepless nights reading, and studying. She looked at all the shelves. How could she know what book was supposed to be for her? “You will know when you see it”. She kept looking for hours. It was a dark and rainy night. Tired from searching, Elinor sat on the floor. Was she going to fail this close to fame and success? Her eyes semi-closed, in a state of partial sleep she was falling asleep when a ray from the Moon enlightened a book on the shelf ahead of her. At that moment, Elinor knew it was THE book. A book with no name, no title, no author. Elinor knew this was going to be her book. 

            She stood on her feet, and slowly grab the book by its tranche.

            At that very moment, a shelf on the right opened like a door. The bright green glow that was coming out of it fascinated Elinor. Silently, she stepped in the secret room. As she was entering the room, she dropped her book on the floor. The shelf silently closed behind her.


            As the sun was rising on a bright and shiny morning, the employees entered the library to start a new day of work. One of them was walking down the biography section aisle when he noticed a book on the floor.

            - Oh, I know that book, this is one of our newest acquisitions. What is it doing in here? This is not at all its place. Let’s see: “The Strange Case of Elinor Stevencox: A Study on Schizophrenia” by Doctor Death Angel. This book shouldn’t be in here at all. Its place should be in the psychiatric section…”

March 06, 2022 14:36

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