All you need is one word

She sat down on her bed to read. She hadn’t opened a book in a long time. The pages felt unfamiliar, to flick through them seemed strange to her, like handling an unusual object, like a carpentry tool or a surgical instrument. The paper was quite rough, and the moisture of her fingers made the job easier.

The first page was covered with writing, but the rest of the book was blank. The last word on the first page broke off at the end of the line. The word must’ve been beguiling in full, she thought, judging by the surviving half.

Then she noticed something even stranger. Some of the pages would be filled with printed words as she was flicking back and forth trying to find any writing at all. So she couldn’t really decide whether the writing had been there before or whether it appeared as she was impatiently flipping through the book.

She looked closely at the writing. It seemed to tell a story, but on close inspection the writing on one page didn’t really flow onto the next. Our reader could see three pages written together, but there was no single story being told. The pages were as if they’d been pasted together from different books.

Intrigued, she continued to leaf through, trying to pierce through the mystery. Two hours had passed since she opened the book, and she had forgotten about her plans that evening. In fact, she hadn’t planned to sink into her bed with that book. It was only a way of killing time before she had to go out to meet friends.

The title of the book was the Confessing Library and it was written in black letters embossed on the white cover. It didn’t say who the author was. On the inner cover, the pastedown, as she had heard some people, librarians no doubt, call it, she could see an inscription. Reading it, she understood what she had in her hands was not simply a book, but her book, more precisely the only book ever written about her own life. Not by someone who knew her, but by herself. It all came back to her. She thumbed forcefully to the end of the book to see what it said. The pages were just as blank as the other ones, and she fell asleep.

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