Chapter 2: Finding The Missing
Here we begin our story, in chapter two we read chapter one.
“What a mess.” My best friend Alice was like a broken record.
“So you’ve said.” My reply was muffled, nose deep in a book.
“What a mess."
It was as if she was trying to get my approval or my attention at the least.
I slammed my book down on the table, agitated. The pages blew in the air, overlapping each other before settling back into place. The crisp smell of the pages adorned my senses, and I smiled at the familiar feeling the smell of a new book gave me. Although, I didn’t quite know how new it really was.
I had found it less than an hour ago, tucked away behind a shelf and hidden between various other forgotten books. It was handwritten, much like a journal, but it smelt new despite it’s withered picture of age. The pages were like sandpaper beneath my fingertips, but weirdly welcoming, and it smelt like fresh print.
I was intrigued by it almost immediately, it spoke to me in ways other books hadn’t before. It felt true, and I found myself once again getting lost in the world of this mysterious character and losing my own.
His name wasn’t stated, and most characters were non-existent. In fact, most of it seemed to be his own thoughts, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. An hour had gone by and I had almost finished, but now I was being disturbed by the sole reason I preferred to visit the library on my own.
“Maybe he’s better off missing.”Alice frowned at the smudged ink picture she was looking down upon.
“Are you serious?” I laughed dryly, snatching the paper from her manicured hands, “What is it with you and finding the missing?”
My eyes trailed over the picture of a boy. He was standing at the front of a petrol station, head tilted to the side and a smile on his face, hair ruffled and arms crossed. What an odd place to take a picture, I thought as I traced my finger over the snapshot.
He was a mess, that’s for sure.
I shrugged and handed the paper back to Alice, who swiped it away quickly before placing it back on the table.
“It’s a newspaper Kirsten...what’d you expect.” She leant forwards and placed a finger on her lipstick stained lips, eyes narrowed.
“I just find it funny how much it interests you.” I picked up the book I was absorbed in moments before, and let the words wash over me once again.
The last couple of weeks have been the definition of crazy, but now I have finally found a way to press pause. It’s quiet here, a lot quieter than back home. And I have found something to take my mind off things, someone who makes running away from my troubles seem unimportant for the time being, at least. She has made me stop.
I’ve been watching her for a while now...
“And you don’t?” the book was once again, stolen from my eyes.
I looked at Alice and flinched. She was holding the book at such an awkward angle, bending the spine and folding the pages in on themselves.
“I don’t what?” all I wanted to do was finish that book.
“Don’t find it interesting.” Alice looked at me as if I’d gone mad.
“No, as a matter of a fact I don’t.” I reached out for my book, itching to get my hands back on it. To smooth the crumpled pages and finish the damn thing.
“It doesn’t fascinate you how he’s on the run? How he is basically a criminal and he is roaming among us now? How he could be anywhere, in this very room...” she ran away with her thoughts, “And we wouldn’t know about it?”
“His picture is in the newspaper Alice, I’m pretty sure if someone saw him they would recognise him and call the police. And do you really think a fugitive would come to a public library?”
“YES!” she gave a melodramatic wave of her hands.
I sighed for what felt like the hundredth time today, “No.”
Alice gave me a defeated look, pushing my book back towards me. My eyes shone as if the pages were made from gold and I picked it up, back in its rightful place between my palms.
“The joke will be on you when the missing get found.” Alice gathered up her papers, stacking them into an uneven pile.
“I long to find myself before I find the missing,” I whispered.
“Okay gross,” Alice stood up and wiped down her floral dress, “It is so obvious that you read books.” Her laugh danced as she walked away.
“How?” but it was too late, she was gone.
“Oh.” realisation washed over me as I recalled what I’d just said.
It was true though, if you spent your whole life looking for something, wouldn’t you eventually lose sight of what you were really looking for?
Shaking off the thought like a bad dream, I stood up and made my way over to the corner of the library. I hastily tucked my chair in and ducked under the long wooden beams that ran along the ceiling, hair a tangled mess beside my shoulders.
“Perfect.” I whispered.
I reached out and slotted the book back where I had found it, where it would sit in slumber until I came back to finish it. So many unread words practically bursting from the pages, scrawled across the paper without thought or precision, yet holding within them so much emotion.
Another world between my lips, another life beneath my fingertips.
Sighing, I left the book behind and made my way outside into the cold air. Nuzzling deeper into my scarf and wrapping my coat tightly around me, I began the long walk home. Under the sunsets orange hues and the sound of my shoes against the pavement, I sang gently beneath my breath. For now, I had to face real life, but tomorrow I would let it fade away again.
The rest of the walk home was silent and I spent most of it wishing I had that book back in my hands.