I was in the process of sorting books when I saw it. Our family had given themselves the task of cleaning my late great-aunt’s house, or rather, my Mum and Aunt had. The small, brick house wasn’t very spacious, but it was home for her, and kind of for me too, after she moved from the Gold Coast to be closer to us. We would visit her at least once a week. Now, she was gone, and a piece of each of us with her.
Despite its size, that house held a lot of stuff, seriously, we’re still finding things. Don’t even get me started on the clothes. Mum had me go through all the craft books she had, in case I wanted anything. Which is where I found the aforementioned book. It was a large, dusty, leather tome that seemed to boast of years of history, leather cover clearly well taken care of. The only adornment was a small metal plate on the front cover, with an inscription in a language foreign to me. Perhaps Latin. My curiosity was definitely piqued.
“What’s that?” A voice piped over my shoulder.
“It’s a book, Tara.” Slowly, as if I were talking to a child. I turn to see her deadpan expression, trying to supress the grin on my face. Riling up my sister was so much fun. She’s a couple of inches taller than me, more athletic, similar in appearance with brown hair, green eyes and fair skin; and slightly hyperactive. I love her to death. “I don’t know, but it looks cool, huh?”
“Yeah, what does it say?” She asked, pointing to the inscription. I only shrugged in response. “Eh, whatever, have fun with your un-readable book.” Her interest lost, she retreated to the other side of the room to slump on a couch.
When she said that, I realised I had yet to open the book. I grasped the front cover, but couldn’t bring myself to open it for some reason.
“Girls, could you help your Dad carry this to the car?” Frowning at my behaviour, I walked towards the archway that led to the kitchen, spying my Mum and her Sister leafing through an assortment of cookbooks.
“Hey Mum?” She turns to me and spots the book in my hands.
“Found another book?” I nod, dumbly. “Just put it in the back room with the others.”
The back room was the second bedroom in the house, and the one Tara and I would sleep in when staying the night. Currently, it was being used to store all the things we wanted to keep before we sold the house. I stood there for a moment, not caring about the musty smell that was permeating the room. My gaze swept over the gold and green duvet, the empty wardrobe and the sad looking light blue walls, to land on the open window with a view of the fly screen and the neighbour’s fence; complete with overgrown passionfruit vine.
The room unnerved me, the house unnerved me. Usually, it felt as if my Great Aunt was still around, but on a holiday somewhere, like that time she went on the Ghan. However, the increasingly empty rooms were changing that. I wish I could say I felt sad, but I didn’t; just scared. About the time when I would have to die, and what would entail.
A questioning call from Tara broke my train of thought, probably for the best. With a response of ‘coming!’ I left the room, the book having never left my arms.
-+= Later, Evening=+-
It was getting close to Midnight, and I was lying spread-eagled in bed, desperately trying to fall asleep. I often have this problem. While it takes the average person 14 minutes to fall asleep, it takes me at least an hour; guess I’m not average then. Though it seems like tonight I wouldn’t be getting any sleep at all. With a sigh, I drag myself out of bed and tiptoe down the hallway, hoping that some water might bring upon sleep.
After filling an empty glass from the bench, I was distracted by lights from passing cars. I always wondered what people are doing out this late. Maybe they can’t sleep either.
“I’m really not getting any sleep am I?” I whisper to a sleeping house. “And now I’m talking to myself, great. I have six 2-hour exams coming up and I’ve gone crazy.” Maybe I’ll just bunker down in the lounge room and read until Dad gets up and tells me to go back to sleep. It’s a plan, then. With an issue of Black Butler, a torch and my fluffiest blanket in hand, I proceed to make myself the comfiest cocoon possible on the twenty year old sunken in couch, and begin. And get distracted once more.
The book. The big, old, dusty one I found at my great Aunt’s. It’s here; on the coffee table. When did it get there? Am I actually going crazy? I thought I put it down… It seems not. Why hadn’t anyone pointed that out? I might as well read that then. Squeaking from the cold, I reached over and lugged it into my lap, grunting with the effort. Christ, this thing is heavier than I remember. And I can read the inscription as well. I practically throw it surprise. WAIT. WAIT ONE SECOND. Or two, or ten. I can read it. I definitely could not do that before. I am most definitely crazy. As freaked out as I was, I just had to read it now, craziness aside. I chuckle slightly, I am such a nerd. I lean over to reach for it, forgetting how cold I was, I was that excited.
The book seemed to have fallen open on impact. The yellowing pages almost glowing in the moonlight, swirling cursive covering the pages like intricate tattoos. My eyes blow wide in surprise, I can’t believe what I’m reading. It’s telling me… that I’m a superhero.
Ok, ok. The story isn’t actually that cliché. I have some pride as a somewhat average writer.