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"The Book of Vines"

Standing in the dark corner of the library, completely surrounded by giant shelves bearing thousands of old, tattered books, she cautiously opens the front cover of the work with curiosity. The wind begins to whip, blowing strands of hair into her face. A light is expelled, illuminating her petite facial features, and a mysterious tune pulses within her ears. Vines begin to grow from the spine and pages, wrapping around her white knuckles. She slams the book shut and all goes still.

The ancient looking city is so overwhelming in Lindy’s eyes. Everything is so powerful and enormous: houses, buildings, and streets. Growing up in this dull, color deprived place, Lindy is somewhat depressed. She is an outlier here, living in a world of earsplitting sound and a world of lonely silence. Everywhere she walks she longs to exclude the honking of horns, the screams of impatient civilians, and the cries of precious babies and replace this hectic noise with the caring voice of a friend. Looking through the frosty window, she not only sees the staleness of the world, but also only listens to the quiet buzz of loneliness. The cold, white winter sheet draped across the city gives the streets a somber appearance.

Lindy has been parentless since she was barely one year old. She has accepted not having family; she knows nothing of love or care. Bearing no knowledge of where she came from, she is imprisoned in this orphanage, where her conservative personality differs from the snotty attitudes of the other girls living alongside her. The other children don’t make an effort to acknowledge her, and Lindy doesn’t posses the courage to cross this barrier alone. Depression is hard for her to accept; she has never experienced life any differently. As an escape from the filthy orphanage, Lindy reads to herself. For hours she will lie on her back and bury her face in the words of the raggedy books supplied on the musty, brown bookshelf in the room. Any chance she can, between mopping the muddy floors to sweeping the cobwebbed ceiling, she reads. This allows her to explore the fantasies, she believes, other young women live. Not once has a couple come to inspect Lindy in search of a new member to their family. She sullenly watches as young girls, as she, are hugged and kissed by families come to make their claims. These girls are more than lucky to leave the atrocious, flower papered walls of this barred prison.

Once every two weeks the girls are allowed a voyage into the city. Walking through the streets, Lindy stops mid-step in front of a gray, towering building. The sign reads “Venture into Reads.” Lindy pivots towards the door, turns the rusty handle, and walks into the antique library. The faded blue carpet is barely visible under the rows and rows of splintering bookshelves. An odd looking man is standing in the far back corner of the library holding a massive stack of books. His silver eyes and abnormally long white beard are barely visible over the top of the tired spines.

“May I help you?” he mumbles.

“Uhm, yes,” Lindy replies, quite startled by the mystic notes in his voice. “I am looking for a new book, you see. I live at the girls’ orphanage around the corner. I highly enjoy the adventure I find in reading. I crave something different, even exotic!”

“Well my dear, I do believe I have a wonderful selection to choose from. Pick any book you’d like, and you will find the adventure you describe within.” He quickly disappears behind the nearest metal desk.

Lindy wanders about amazed by the extravagant sight she witnesses. Her eyes dart from book to book, her mouth not far from drooling. A thick book at the top of one of the shelves is called to her attention; it appears to be glowing. She climbs the bookshelf, careful not to fall, and pulls down this strange piece. Masking the cover is a portrait of beautiful flowers and vines. The illustrated scene seems inviting in a remarkable way. Staring at the book causes her heart pace to quicken. Standing in the dark corner of the library, completely surrounded by giant shelves bearing thousands of old, tattered books, she cautiously opens the front cover of the work with curiosity. Mysteriously a fierce wind begins to whip, blowing strands of hair into her face. A light is expelled, illuminating her petite facial features, and a mysterious tune pulses within her ears. Vines begin to grow from the spine and pages, wrapping around her white knuckles. She slams the book shut and all goes still.

With shaky hands, Lindy carries the voluminous book, tucked under her armpit, up to the metal desk where the old man waits.

“Ahhhh,” he sighs as she places the book into his arms. “This book is most interesting. This book is magical: The Book of Vines.”

“Magical how sir?” Lindy asks tenderly.

“It appeals to your own wishes. Each person that flips through it’s pages experiences something unique and mystical.”

“How so?”

“I guess that’s for you to find out,” he ends abruptly. His long, wrinkly fingers lightly place the book into her delicate, pale hands.

During the tedious walk back to the orphanage, Lindy is hardly aware of her surroundings. The book cradled in her arms is all she can think of. How bizarre that was: the library, the man, the book! Everything around her is a blur.

She lies in bed and stares at the pallid, white ceiling. Running her fingers along the corners, she decides to flip open the front cover once again. At first the white pages appear blank, but soon enough the entire book seems to come alive. Vines begin to sprout, forcing the book open. Words appear on the pages as if someone is hastily scribbling them down. A blinding light causes Lindy’s head to spin, she squeezes her eyes shut, and suddenly she feels her body go numb. Then the pressure is released.

She opens her eyes and gasps for breath. Where am I? she ponders. Regaining balance and sight, she steals astounding glances at the beautiful gold gate awaiting her. Glorious music is chirping in her ears as she prances forward, through the meadow of breathtaking bloom. As she approaches the glistening gate the heavy lock mysteriously unlatches itself and cracks open. She approaches with arms outstretched. A warm, cozy feeling of security overwhelms her; she can feel it tingling from her toes. The gentle breeze ripples her long, blonde hair, and brings tears to her crystal, blue eyes. The sunshine is unseasonably warm against her transparent skin.

Hidden by the golden gate, she finds a small, wooden cottage and a stone path that leads to the front door. The door is thrown open, and an unnaturally gorgeous woman appears where the door once stood. Her hair is long and blonde, and her eyes are the same crystalline blue as Lindy’s. Her small figure and features resemble that of Lindy’s too. A man presents himself beside the woman. He is the most handsome man upon whom Lindy has ever laid eyes. His flawless stature, and his bold, bright face portray beauty above all.

“Welcome Lindy!” the couple exclaims in unison.

“Why hello there,” Lindy answers with confidence she never possessed before.

“Why don’t you join us inside? It’s almost time for breakfast!” the woman dreamily suggests.

Lindy strolls toward the welcoming doorway. The atmosphere is warm and homey, nothing like she has ever experienced. The fragrance of sweet cinnamon rolls fills the air. Sunlight shining through the open curtains splashes over the entire floor. She is greeted by a tiny, white dog energetically barking and panting with enthusiam. The fur, so fuzzy and thick, covers his eyeballs; the delightful dog looks like a cheery ball of snow.

After Lindy takes a seat at the kitchen table the pretty woman sets a delicious, hot plate of food in front of her. The smell of fresh bacon, scrambled eggs, juicy ham, and sweet orange juice seizes her. Love is radiating from these dreamlike people, her family. It clutches her heart and melts her chilled insides. This couple, who appear to be her parents, already make her feel at home.

“Why don’t you get settled into your room? I hope you like the pink and green walls! Oh, I collected an entire library of books for you too! Walk into the front hall and open the first door on the right!” her mom enthusiastically urges. Lindy steps into the hallway and curiously slides open the first door on the right to discover an entire room piled with books. There are books stacked on the big iron desk, across the speckled blue carpet, and upon the hundreds of wooden shelves along the perimeter of the enormous room. Astounded, Lindy gapes at the masterpiece: her own personal library.

Taken aback, the cabin begins to shake. The crash of a fallen lamp is heard from the other room. The plates and glasses shatter. Love is replaced with fear and dread. “Lindy, please don’t leave..” she hears her mother whisper from the other room. She wrenches her eyelids shut in confusion and fury. She doesn’t want to leave this wonderful place. It is her most powerful fantasy; these strangers are the only family she has ever known. Suddenly her world stops shaking, and she slowly releases her clenched fist and opens her eyes. Standing in a plain, white walled room with no visible escape, Lindy is panicked by the simplicity of the bare room and the complexity of her mixed emotions towards what she has just harnessed.

“DO YOU ENJOY LIVING IN THIS FANTASY?” a booming voice, unable to be located, roars above the slow drone of silence. “YOU ARE TO MAKE A DECISION. IT IS A DECISION BASED ON WHETHER YOU WILL STAY AND LIVE IN THIS FANTASY FOREVER OR WHETHER YOU WILL RETURN TO REALITY. BUT REMEMBER, FANTASIES MAY BE DECEIVING.”

Scenes of the orphanage appear on the once white walls of the room. A motion picture is developed. Lindy watches in awe as a man and a woman enter her former room, sit onto the bed, chat and laugh along with her. The kind, gentle woman, with warm brown eyes, plays with Lindy’s hair and twirls her blonde locks around her index finger. Lindy beams and her cheeks burn pink. The couple loves her. It is so evident as the man thrusts her into his bulky arms and swings her back and forth like a baby, despite her preteen age. This bewildering commotion brings Lindy emotional discomfort, but she is still confused between the fantasy and the reality of it all. Is what is happening in this picture happening back at my orphanage, or is my imaginative mind playing devious tricks on me?

A small tear is shed from her glossy, blue eyes as she yearns for real love and compassion. The moment the teardrop, filled with her wishes, hits the floor, she feels an explosion of pressure. Her head is spinning again, but this time it is far more obnoxious. Her heart is pounding in her chest waiting to break loose. Butterflies flutter in her stomach and urge her to vomit. She is whirled back into reality.

The former dead-like body of Lindy, lying next to The Book of Vines , awakens as two young people enter the room. They skip cautiously over beside her dusty nightstand. Lindy knows they are the people she longs to call Mom and Dad; their embrace feels relaxing and cozy and the brief waft of light perfume and aftershave give her security. The picture resembles something oddly familiar: the scenes from the white room.

After hours of laughter and serious conversation, the couple explains to Lindy why they came in search of a child. Oddly, both the man and the women had intriguing dreams the night before; dreams that illustrated how life would be with a child.

“And it was crazy. The young girl in our dream resembled you, and the orphanage I pictured was this one we are standing in. My husband and I both agreed that these unusual dreams must have meaning. Darling, it was fate that led us to you.” this woman explains.

Lindy leaves that day with the young, loving couple. She rushes past them to open the door of her prison, freeing herself of the misery. Awaiting her new future, she steps into the guiding sunlight. This is reality, not some fantasy of her own. The day, unlike any other, appeals to her; it is another adventure; it is different, even exotic.





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