Since the beginning of 2023, I’ve been taking part in a monthly write-athon on Twitter called #7DayTale. Write a tale in seven tweets, one tweet each day for a week, around a provided theme. I’ve immensely enjoyed the challenge of creating such short pieces within the confines of the Twitter 280 character limit because it’s forced me to approach storytelling in a completely different way.
I’m quite proud of my resulting flash fiction tales so I thought I’d share one of them with you. The title of my story is the theme we were given that month. Hands up, I have polished the tale a little since I posted it on Twitter.
The Mysterious Library
The world went away a long time ago. That’s how it feels anyway. Harry always joked we should’ve had kids so they could look after us in our old age.
The key has left an imprint in the pages of the book that has imprisoned it for who knows how long.
I turn my wedding ring around my finger. It long ago left its mark on my skin. Harry was the same. He left his mark on my heart.
I put the key aside and examine the book. The battered leather cover sags loose from the pages. The title on the spine is worn away. I open the book.
Harry called himself a collector. I think hoarder was a better word. He filled the spare bedroom, the attic, the garage, even the shed with boxes of books, scrolls, and small tins that rattled.
Inside, I find the title of the book – The History of the Travelling Library.
Harry also called himself a seeker. He said I’d understand one day. I loved that man more than I’ve ever loved anyone, which is why I put up with his nonsense and boxes. He died last week. He was 84. We were together for over 50 years. It wasn’t enough.
Open on the floorboards, the book is thick with text. Each page is so full of words that they blur into slabs of grey as I turn the pages. Or maybe that’s just my tears.
My knees complain as I raise myself from the floor in the attic. The light is bad, provided by just one light bulb hanging from the rafters. I squint as I see it for the first time.
The key is warm in my hand as I pull back the curtain that veils a corner of the attic. This room was Harry’s domain which is probably why I’d never noticed the curtain or the tall wooden door that it hides. But that’s impossible. There’s nothing on the other side of that wall. Only air and a steep drop to the ground.
Here goes nothing, Harry would have said. The key fits perfectly into the door’s lock and with a little force, it turns. I open the door just a bit, enough to see through but not so much that I can’t slam it shut. There’s a floor beyond and a warm, steady light. I open the door wide and step through. It takes me a moment to realise that I’m in a library filled with bookcases that skim the ceiling.
“You took your time.” A familiar face. He sits at a desk in the middle of the space. I’ve got so much to show you,” Harry says. “Welcome to the Travelling Library.”
If you’d like to try your hand at penning a monthly flash fiction yourself, you can find the write-athon by searching for #7DayTale on Twitter.