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Author's note: I wrote this short story for a Creative project for one of my Creative Writing classes. Although it was an assignment, I had a lot of fun writing it. I hope people will enjoy reading it and be taken on an adventure!
Sitting in the quiet, comfortable section of the bookstore, this was home. Katelyn had never felt secure in public places. She went to school, because she had no other choice, and got along fine. She never really knew how to relate to the other kids in her class. All they chatted about was the latest Twilight movie and who was hotter Rob or Taylor? Katelyn didn’t particularly care about Twilight. Yeah, she read the books but they were nothing special. She preferred an older variety when it came to reading.
This is why she was sitting in the small bookstore on the corner of Franklin and Bound. It was quite a picturesque little store. The bookstore had been on Bound Street for years, even before Katelyn was born. The street itself had everything to do with the name of the store, Bound Books. It was a cutesy name, but effective all the less. Bound Books had a bountiful selection of novels ranging from classics such as The Great Gatsby, to the more modern Harry Potter sagas. The owner of the bookstore was George Hoyt, but everyone called just called him Hoyt. He was an opinionated man who always let people know just what was on his mind. The first time Katelyn met Hoyt, he ranted about how aliens were infiltrating the mayoral campaign that fall. He was a loony, but he let Katelyn sit and read the books for as long as she wanted without paying for a single one. So, she put up with his strange antics. Katelyn wasn’t too picky when it came to books here at the store. She would wander around, gazing at the jam-packed shelves, searching for her next adventure. She loved looking at all the different covers; sometimes exploding with color, while other times it would just be simple black and white. Like a hunter in the Amazon, Katelyn would target her a single book and bring it to the reading section of the bookstore to conquer the wild beast of a novel.
She was currently in the middle of Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte was one of Katelyn’s favorites. The way she wrote with passion and elegance about nature and her love Mr. Rochester sent Katelyn to another realm. Reading was an escape from the day to day. It was an escape from school. Homework. Tests. Teachers. Presentations. Gossip. Clichés. Lunch. Parents. Fighting. Boredom. Reality TV. Family dinner. Worrying. It was an escape from life.
It was a regular Tuesday afternoon for Katelyn. She had settled in at Bound’s with her trusty Jane Eyre after a long and tiring day of school. Snug in a red velvet chair reading, she was safe. With the chair making an imprint of her body and the heavy book nestled in her lap, she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. As she plunged herself into the journey of Jane, her eye suddenly came across an unfamiliar piece of paper behind the page she was reading. She hesitated to turn the page, even though she was done reading it. She stared at the paper. It clashed with the cream colored pages of Jane Eyre. It was slightly grey, with the uniform lines of notebook paper. Overcome with curiosity, Katelyn gently pulled the piece of paper out of the safety of the book. Wriggling free the paper, she began to notice that there was something written on it. When she had taken the entire thing out, she read the writing. “To Katelyn.” She immediately dropped the paper. Her name.
This has got to be some sort of mistake, or a joke. Not a funny one. Katelyn darted her eyes around the petite bookstore, desperately searching for an answer. The only people in the store were; Hoyt, who was up at the front desk scribbling angrily into his journal, an older man wandering around the non-fiction section, three pre-pubescent boys sneering in the erotic novels area, and a girl about Katelyn’s age flipping through a Seventeen magazine. No one looked suspicious. Finally, Katelyn got up from her comfy oasis and took the paper over to Hoyt.
“Hoyt, you got a second?” He was still heavily into his journaling. It took a moment until he lifted his head and looked at Katelyn.
“What do you want? I’m in the middle of something.” His jet-black bushy eyebrows soared up into his forehead as he asked me this.
“Well, uhm, I found this weird paper in the Jane Eyre I was reading. What’s even weirder is the paper was actually a note. Addressed to me.” At those last words, Hoyt looked up again.
“It was addressed to you? How is that possible? Have you even read that exact copy of Jane Eyre before?”
“No, I haven’t. It’s so strange.” Katelyn looked at the paper again, twisting and turning it in her hands.
“I don’t know what to tell you kid. It’s probably just some dumb love note or something. You should read it.”
That was a good point. All the while Katelyn had discovered the note, she never thought to open it. Let alone read whatever was inside.
“Yeah, good idea Hoyt. Thanks for the help.” Hoyt nodded and went back to his written raving.
Katelyn went back to her chair and sat down. Pushing Jane Eyre aside, she stared at the paper in her hands. Okay, it’s open time, she thought. Carefully, she unfolded the letter. It was like opening Pandora’s box. Who knows what would come out of it. She saw black, dark writing. There was a lot of it. It was illegible to her until she turned it right side up. Then she began to read:
You do not know me, but I know you. You come to Bound Books every day. You read from the cornucopia of books that are available to you. I write this letter to you because I know you are the only one that will understand. You know us. Again, I know how strange this letter may sound right now, but soon you will understand everything. In order to understand, you must stay until after closing tonight. Wait until Hoyt leaves and the clock strikes 11. Then you will see.
Katelyn set the letter down. She racked her brain for a suitable explanation. There wasn’t one. This was, quite possibly, the most mysterious letter she had ever come across. How does this person know me, she thought. What was she supposed to understand? This pen pal of hers wanted her to wait until after Hoyt left to meet up? Not only is that dangerous, but Katelyn had a curfew. On the other hand, she badly wanted to know what all this confusion was about. Screw curfew, she thought. Her parents would just think she quietly came home and went to bed. She would stay until eleven. Then she would get some answers.
At 10:30, Katelyn was the very last customer in Bound Book’s. After all, it was a Tuesday. She waited until Hoyt took a run to the bathroom, and then she hid in the Fiction section. When Hoyt came back he looked around, assuming Katelyn had left, and he closed up the store. Glancing at the clock, Katelyn noticed it was 10:50. Only ten minutes to spare. She took out the note. Wait until Hoyt leaves and the clock strikes 11. Then you will see. See what? All she could see was a very dark and slightly scary bookstore. She wandered around the Fiction section, looking at covers of books she hadn’t yet read, all the while scanning the clock. 10:54. Katelyn grabbed a book from the shelf, New Moon. Oh God, I’m not that bored, she thought. She looked again, 10:59. Now that was more like it. 11:00. It was time. For what exactly, Katelyn had no idea.
Staring directly at the clock, Katelyn stood tapping her foot against the carpet. Okay, I’ll wait until 11:05 and then I’m outta here, she thought. It was completely silent until she suddenly heard footsteps. They were even, balanced steps. It almost seems like the beat of a song until a person came from around the bookshelf Katelyn was hiding in. It was a woman. She was of average height and weight, but everything else was a bit strange. She was dressed in 19th century clothing. She had on a bonnet and a dress, with a constricting corset. Katelyn shrugged this person off as a 19th century obsessed fan until she started speaking.
“Hello Katelyn. I see you got my letter. I know how odd this must be for you. I am glad you came.” Her face was full of elegance and grace.
“Yeah. I got your letter. I still have no idea what is going on though. Who are you? Is this some kind of weird prank or something?” She seems so familiar, Katelyn suddenly thought.
“This is no joke. Silly of me, I should have introduced myself at the start. I am Jane. Jane Eyre. And you, you are Katelyn. You are the key to all of this.” She looked into Katelyn’s eyes with a fierce passion. Katelyn had to look away. The stare was too intense.
“I’m sorry, did you just say your name was Jane Eyre? Like THE Jane Eyre? No, that’s impossible. You must just have one of those really rare, famous names. You aren’t the Jane Eyre from the novel. No.”
Katelyn was pacing now. This was crazy. This person was not Jane Eyre. Although, she did look exactly the way she pictured her when she read the book. Maybe it was her. She looked at the woman again and she knew. It was Jane Eyre. As crazy as that sounds, it was her. Clear as day. And as quick as that, Katelyn believed.
“Okay, so you’re Jane, from Charlotte Bronte’s novel?”
“Yes, I am.” She said this with the utmost confidence.
“Oh my God! This is amazing! You are like my favorite character of all time!”
Jane looked taken aback. It seemed as if she had never heard this before.
“Well, thank you. It is merely the story of my life. If it happens to be an interesting one, that is of good fortune. But this is not important; I have brought you here for another purpose. You must meet the others first.”
Katelyn looked at Jane like she had three heads. “Wait, there are others? Like who?” Jane took Katelyn by the hand and led her to the end of the Fiction section.
When they turned the corner of the Fiction bookshelf, Katelyn was bombarded with people. The store was filled with characters from her favorite books. It was like a dream come true. Still holding Jane’s hand, Katelyn took in the sight.
The first group she noticed was Pride and Prejudice. Standing together were; Mr. Darcy in all his glory, Elizabeth Bennett making a disapproving expression, along with her three sisters, Mary, Jane and Kitty. As she was staring with her mouth to the floor, Katelyn caught part of the conversation they were having.
“Well, if the girl can’t help us, we are all doomed,” Mr. Darcy said very negatively.
Elizabeth answered, “Darcy, you have no faith in the child. I have hope that she will be able to do the task.”
Katelyn strained to hear more of the conversation, but Jane pulled her across the room. As she was being forced to the back of the store, she galloped past several infamous figures. She saw Gatsby smoking a cigarette with Daisy in the corner of the Fiction section, and Huck Finn with Tom Sawyer. They were wearing ripped overalls and covered in mud. The two of them were talking loud and giggling. Some things never change, Katelyn thought. She laughed out loud. Still being pulled, Katelyn saw the two characters she never thought she would see. Edward and Bella. Twilight, it follows me wherever I go, she thought with a sigh. They were, of course, holding each other close and Edward was playing with Bella’s hair. Interestingly, the character of Bella was more attractive than the actress who played her in the movie. Weird, Katelyn thought. She was sure there was a jealous Jacob roving the shelves.
As they rounded the mystery section, Katelyn got a good glance at the infamous Sherlock Holmes. He was sitting in one of the reading chairs with his trusty Watson. Smoking his pipe, Katelyn heard a faint, “Elementary my dear Watson” as they whipped by them.
Finally Jane let go of Katelyn’s hand. They were here. Wherever that was.
“Katelyn, we need your help.”
“Okay. What do I do?”
“As you know, our existence must always be kept a secret. For if the world knew of us, they would either think we were something against nature or try to make money off of us. You know this to be true.”
“Although we must be kept in the dark, we do want our world to be known. We want our lives to be told. Not the lives we lived in the famous novels, but the little adventures shared here at Bound’s. We want people to know what we are really like.”
“Alrighty. So I should go around telling people about this?” Katelyn immediately regretted saying that.
“No! You mustn’t! It would ruin us! Have you been listening to me? We want you to tell our stories. Write about us. The real us.”
“Oh, okay. I gotcha. You want me to write a book about what happened tonight. And you guys will be in the clear because it will be passed off as fiction. Awesome!”
“Yes. Now you are getting it. I am glad you finally understand. We knew you were the perfect person to help us. You have read all of our stories, and several others. You know what to write. Now, let’s go meet the real characters.”
So, Jane introduced Katelyn to Sherlock, who actually wasn’t the biggest fan of mystery novels and Mr. Darcy, who loved to read comic books. As she gathered notes for herself, she realized that this was the greatest moment of her life. Learning that Hamlet was really quite decisive when it came to food, and that Robin Hood loved to read teen fantasy novels was the best it was ever gunna get. Finally, she found her way back to Jane.
“So, Jane. What about you? What do you love? Hate?”
“Well, I love reading mysteries and I absolutely loathe those Twilight books.”
“I can die and go to heaven now.” Katelyn was content. Suddenly she heard a loud knocking noise. It kept repeating.
“WAKE UP!” Hoyt was pounding on the desk where Katelyn had fallen asleep.
“What? Where’s Jane?” Katelyn shot up and looked around. She was in the bookstore. The clock read 10:15. She glimpsed down at her copy of Jane Eyre and saw the paper. It was blank. It was just a dream. Ha, who am I kidding, like that would be real, Katelyn thought.
“The store is about to close. Go home Katelyn.” Hoyt yawned and went back to his desk.
Katelyn got up and took the piece of paper with her. As she was walking out of the bookstore, she gazed down at the note. She was expecting writing to suddenly appear. But it didn’t. Katelyn was so obsessed with the note that she didn’t look where she was going. She ran right into a woman on the street.
“Oh jeez, I’m so sorry.” Katelyn helped her with the books she was carrying. They were all mystery novels with titles like Crime of Passion and Murder Lane. Interesting, Katelyn thought.
“Oh, it’s fine. Thank you for helping me.” The woman looked up at Katelyn and it was obvious. It was Jane.
“No problem. I gotta be more careful next time. I guess I’ll see you around.”
They gazed into each other’s eyes, and Jane winked.
“I hope so.”
They both got up and as they went to part ways, Jane whispered, “Write about us. The real us.”
Katelyn nodded and made a little smile.