Confession: I didn’t write much in ‘The Blank Book’ over the weekend. The story froze in my mind, and nothing I tried could get it moving again. I was able to work out some details of the story’s chronology, though, so I have something of a plan to work from instead of writing random passages.
It also seems that I have stumbled on a side effect of searching for inspiration for a specific project: You get ideas for everything except what you’re working on.
Anyway, this is the first part of Chapter 1, written last week:
After debating it in her head for two solid minutes – what if someone sees and accuses me of stealing? – the young traveler decided to pick up the book, if only to find out who it rightfully belonged to. The book itself was of medium size, sturdy construction, and bound by well-worn mahogany leather. She cautiously lifted the front cover, half hoping to see a name identifying an owner, half wishing that it would be blank.
In fact it was neither. There inside the front facing page was a simple notation written in a clear, confident print: “Write in me, then pass along.” On the top right corner was a date: 9/17/08. Hmm, almost three years ago. That was it; no signature, no further instructions, nothing. Quickly flipping through, she found that several pages in a row were written in one script, then the next few were written in a dramatically different style. It looked like the whole book, except for a few pages at the end, had been written in, and by at least a dozen people. Some pages had places where ink had bled through, others had what looked like water stains on them, a few consecutive pages contained sketches, and and about a third of the way through the book there was a thin blue ribbon that must have been used as a bookmark.
Hey, this might be an interesting read, and no one has come to claim it yet… it isn’t illegal to take something if it says to take it, right? Just then there was the call for her train. Feeling rather like the heroine in a spy novel, the girl hastily stuffed the mysterious journal into her backpack and joined the crowd lining up to file into the train.
Finding her seat, the girl pulled the book out of her backpack as quickly as possible. Hopefully whoever sat next to her wouldn’t be the nosy type. Fortunately, the seat next to her remained vacant as the last call was sounded, though a professor-type gentleman claimed the seat across from her.
“Always bring something sensational to read, eh?” The man asked with a chuckle.
Surprised, the girl replied, “No, this isn’t my journal.” She hesitated for a second, then added, “But I did bring a copy of ‘Dorian Gray’ with me for later.”
“Good choice, good choice. What are you reading, then? If you don’t mind my asking, that is – looks interesting.”
“Something I just picked up, actually.” Why am I telling him this?
“Ah. I will leave you to your reading, then.”
The gentleman removed an iPod from his coat pocket and inserted a pair of noise-canceling earbuds into his ears. I guess he won’t mind a lack of small talk, then.
“Ok, what do we have here?” She muttered to herself as she opened the book again. Taking a quick second look at the first page, she was once again mystified by the short note written in black ink. If this was some kind of advertising campaign, there was no indication of it there. A turn of the page revealed a more interesting tale.
I am a thief.
Those were the first words written on a page of small, tight lettering drawn in heavy pencil. The confession looked very bold as an opening statement, sitting there on the college-ruled line running neatly along the page.