dotism

Indivisible

Between them rests a sense of something lost.

She presses her head into the face of a dead letter, it having been sent and forgotten a decade or so ago. It had resurfaced in the pages of a book once given as charity to a shop inhabited solely by figments of a stranger's imagination. Years later, she happened to find herself within the shop once more as the denizens of the place circled about in a largely distracted trance, the ghosted visages eerily recognizable and rare, occasionally observant, continually vague. Each knew her and recommended her own old book to her, herself eager to leaf through the pages of a volume long ago given as charity to a small shop occupied only by those contorted fabrications of her unreliable and duplicitous mind.

As she paged through the small, tattered book in a pique, she would periodically come across a scrap of paper tucked into the spine between an especially illuminating chapter and a direly awful one. On these scraps would be messages addressed to her in a variety of hands, some penciled and quite faint, others scribbled in a rush of ink as if this particular missive would be the author's last stroke. Each uneven note bore her name and a short, somber plea for pleasantness or a well-wished exclamation, and each remained unsigned, or at least torn in such a way as to render any signature unrecognizable.

This collection of messages, each intended for her and each stowed away in the pages of this book which she had abandoned so many years ago, left her saddened at having missed the scriveners when they'd planted their abbreviated prose—yet simultaneously irritated by the anonymity dripping in great drops from the entire affair. She felt a certain yearning for identifying knowledge of these mysterious messengers and wished to know how they knew her, or if they even knew of her at all. She thought of the occupants of the shop and wondered if they might offer her assistance in determining the origins of the scraps, perhaps a push in the direction of a plot's participant, but when she looked up the shop had vanished and she was left to diagnosticate alone.

She flung the notes aside, leaving them to be absorbed asunder and tossed apart by the winnowing breaths of the evening's exit. She looked away from the scattering oddments into the face of her deserted and deadened book, now hers again, here again, the book somehow meaningful and affectionate now that they were forced into each other's presence once more. She gently fanned the book open in a gesture of finality to be sure that she had rid themselves of all the infested epistles, that all forwarded fleas had been banished from tome and leaf, only to find a solitary letter seemingly glued to the inside of the book's back cover.

She looked in surprise at the perfectly penned address on the envelope; the portraiture of royalty in a corner authorizing delivery; a smudged fingerprint; evidence of an investigation by rodent in the form of a nibbled edge; the liquidly stained blot as suggestion of a morning's sip; a blunder in domicile determinate; a notice of return; the sender found deceased with a heart shattered by an apparent avoidance or lacked acknowledgment; the letter left for lost in a sea of mistaken, invalid, or flawed postages and parcels; all for nought—yet here at last.

She understood the letter without reading it as the importance of the dispatch was not to be found within the envelope, at least not now. She asked herself what to make of it, or least how to respond to it, and a decision was made to allow it to speak for itself—for it to become a representation of an anamnesis rather than a simple mailing remaining as it seemed to be. She left it all behind and pretended to have never recovered the book, to have never been faced with the questioning of her understanding of what had become of her and why, of how it all became so distorted and foreign, so disfigured and wrong.

It was late and she had grown tired, the notion of her day was now cloaked in the many directions she had been pulled by these emissaries unknown, and she promised herself never to return to the shop populated with those figmented figures, the obscurantism of strangers, these inhabitants of vacancy with a proclivity to produce pandemonium in what may have been her last and only peace or piece of mind.