I found myself wandering through an old bookstore in a small town outside of Newmarket, New Hampshire, looking at books that possibly haven’t been touched in years. Dust fell from the shelves with each of my steps.
“How old is this place?” I called out to the old lady at the front of the store. She must have been in her 70s and these books were at least the same.
“This bookstore was opened by my grandmother almost a little over a hundred years ago, boy. Most of these books belonged to her husband — he even wrote a few himself,” she replied.
I looked through some of the rugged leather journals. Half interested, but still intrigued, I had to ask, “Did these journals belong to him? It seems he was—“
“A sailor, yes, boy. He kept a log of his ventures.”
That seemed pretty neat. I always loved personal stories of adventure, mostly because I didn’t have the balls to make any of my own.
“These journals are dated,” I said, “many months apart between each journal.”
Oh, this is odd, I thought.
“This one is empty,” I declared, “but it’s still dated on the pages as the most recent one of the many.”
She looked down for a long while and finally said, “He died on his last journey. His boat returned without him, and his journal sat open on his bunk desk. My grandmother simply placed it with the others. She opened the store soon after.”
“That’s tragic. But these pages are dated, as if the entries just melted away from the journal. . .” I said. “. . . I’d like to buy these, or at least the empty one to maybe write about my own travels.”
“Just take them, boy,” she said heartfelt and kindly to me, “No one has bought anything here for quite a while. I don’t need the money anyway, and I wouldn’t want my grandfather’s story to die with him.”
“Are you sure? I could give you something in return.”
“They’re yours now. Do as you wish,” she said.
“Thank you, ma’am. I really appreciate it.”
I looked around a while longer to make sure I grabbed all the journals, ten of them that I found. The last of which was the mysteriously empty one. I gathered all of them, thanked the sweet old lady once more, and headed out on my way.
There was about an hours drive through Newmarket to Stafford, NH, so I thought I’d plan what to do with the journals. I proposed to read them when I got the chance, and start my own little journal entry when I got home. Maybe I’d finally create my own little adventures starting with today’s random visit to that old store.
As the silence in the car became overwhelming, I decided to listen to the radio. Grouplove came on with one of my favorites, Ways to Go, then some of the overplayed songs came through and I began searching stations, one after the other in a strike of boredom.
Then a severe weather warning came through on all stations:
“—storm headed west from the coast tonight. It’s the fastest weather shift we’ve seen in a hundred years. Stay indoors and get your phones charged. You could see power outages over most of the east coast.”
Shit. I didn’t want to hear that.
The rain began a few minutes later, lightly at first, but soon growing into a raging black across the sky.
I made it home and unpacked my bag on my desk, then decided to make my first journal entry about my day. “April 4th, 2017,” I wrote beneath the old, worn out date on the first page, “Welcome to my life, little book.”
As I began to write about my day and the little bookstore, the power went out. I grabbed my phone and turned on the flash just in time to see my words seep into the page. I sat in awe for a moment, adjusting my eyes, before confused and absentmindedly writing, “what the fuck” in the middle of the page where my words used to be. I didn’t believe it, but soon enough, just as before, I watched those words slowly sink away as well.
Then, slightly, one by one, a few letters began to appear on the page. I adjusted my eyes once more, and almost fell out of my chair when I saw it.
H e l l o ?