Submitted into Contest #211 in response to: Begin your story with a librarian searching for something.... view prompt


Sad Suspense Black

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.


Nothing, it wasn’t there. That page or sheet on which signs that looked like hieroglyphs were traced had disappeared. He had caught a glimpse of it when he was absentmindedly leafing through Lucretius’” De rerum nature”. Just at that moment, his colleague Greta had called him for an emergency. David had left the book on the table and when had returned the book was no longer there.  He had looked for it on the shelves, had found it, and had started searching frantically for that sheet ( with hieroglyphics) but it had disappeared. “ Who put back “ De rerum naturae” on the shelf? “he had asked his colleagues. None of them had relocated it. “ It must have been one of the young from the civil service “ they had said to him. The civil service was young were interns ( volunteers). David had asked to them but no one remembered having replaced that book, even though it was bound and from an old edition.

As a librarian, David often happened to find pages or sheets of all kinds among the pages of the library books like shopping receipts, notes, and even love letters, probably used as bookmarks and forgotten there. But he had never happened to find a sheet with lettering like that. He wondered if those were really hieroglyphics, as they had seemed to him to glimpse them for an instant. Oh, perhaps it was only a child’s scribbles….or perhaps it could have been an encrypted script. He should have looked carefully at them, but now it was an impossible task to find them. Maybe that sheet had ended up in a trash can, he said himself. David, albeit feeling that he was being ridiculous, started to look through all the trash bins in the library. His colleagues looking at him shaking their heads. “ Are you looking for some treasure in the trash, David?” and “ What have you lost that is so precious that you start looking for it in the trash?”They said to him with a grin.

“ Yes, I’m looking for something I have lost…And I don’t even know what it is” he said himself, feeling more and more ridiculous. “ YET I need to find it again to understand what it is”

From what he remembered ___he had only looked at that sheet for a few moments ___but no, they couldn’t be hieroglyphics since it was made up of too simple, elementary signs such as geometric figures ___circles, triangles, squares ____and of simplified drawings of flowers ___roses, daisies___ interspersed with parallel and wavy lines. Ah, there was also a circle with rays….perhaps the sun? And a sickle that maybe meant the moon.

But even though he was sure by now they weren’t hieroglyphics, David still called them hieroglyphics to him, as to signify that they were signs to be deciphered. And the fact they had to be deciphered made him think of an encrypted, secret writing ( script). Who knows what was enclosed ___what message, what information ___in that page ( sheet) that he had made be able to see for too little time, and that he had lost ( that had disappeared). Damn it, there was no way to find it again even emptying all the wastebaskets there in the library.

 A SECRET WRITING …David remembered that as a child he and his friend Paul had also planned to use a secret script ( writing) to communicate thoughts and things that no one else but they should be able to understand. Even when he had kept a diary as a teenager he had thought of writing in a cipher script, to confess to his diary, in absolute solitude, feelings, thoughts, and actions that had to remain secret and inaccessible to anyone but him. He now remembered that while his plan to communicate in a secret language with Paul had failed_____ they had not agreed on the characters or signs of the cipher writing to be use ____he had actually written something of his torments of love and his suicidal plans in a handwriting of his own invention. Oh, but sure he had to find again his old diary when he was a teenager.  David had kept ( written) the diary only a few, now distant years of his life, then he had put it aside, had forgotten about it.  He saw it reappearing in his mind. His old diary had a blue cover with written on it DEAR DIARY, in white or perhaps in yellow. But he didn’t remember where he had put it, or where it had ended up. David rummaged through his desk drawers, his library shelves, and even through dressers and closets….Finally, he found it relegated in an old chest in the attic, almost as if he had wanted to get rid of it. It was all covered with dust…the dust of time and forgetfulness. He opened it with trembling hands. On the first page under the date April 8 1983, he had written :” It’s a beautiful spring day today. In the afternoon I went for a run with Mark , Stephen, and Jacob. What a sweaty! But it was great. I needed it to wind down after school. I got five on the Latin test and the teacher said to me that I have to work harder, that I’m always distracted even in class…in short a reprimand…..I didn’t have the courage to replay, not even with a single word. I remained silent as a fish while my classmates whispered and giggled. I felt great embarrassment…” David sighed….how young, naïve, and clueless he had been…how much time had passed since then, a lifetime. He continued to turn the yellowed pages of his youthful diary and HERE was the page where he had begun to write in his very personal and naïve “ encrypted” handwriting. He had resorted to the letters of the Greek alphabet, modifying some of them and also adding  (using)other signs such as triangles, circles, rectangles, and straight lines. But, damn it he had written in one go, impulsively, and now he no longer remembered the meaning he had attributed to each sign and letter. Now he couldn’t decipher the “ words” that he himself had written on those pages. They had become hieroglyphs for him.

But he remembered what, of whom he had written in coded writing . It was when he’d fallen in love  with Mark that he started writing in cipher script. He had suffered so much for Mark, who didn’t reciprocate him at all. On the contrary, Mark made fun of him, because he was a boy who liked girls, and he also had a girlfriend. David had vented in his diary about his suffering, about his impossible love for him. And even in his diary, he had railed against  Mark and against the girls. He had confessed to the diary his anguish and his desire to die. Instead, it was Mark who died in a terrible car accident. David felt guilty for what had written against him, had even cursed him and since Mark’s death, he had stopped keeping the diary.

NOW in front of those pages, he wondered if one day he would be able to decipher them, to understand word for word what he had written then.

August 18, 2023 22:57

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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