Books of the Dead

“What is this place?” I asked my brother’s friend Florence. He’d taken me to an old building she owned in the downtown area.

“My library, sort of,” she said with a delighted smile. She was a thin woman with a black bob, pale skin, and bright blue eyes lined in black.  “The oldest is from the 1760’s, but most are from the 19th and 20th Centuries. I have a fair amount from the 21st Century too. I got my first one in 1819. Two hundred years ago.

“Are they manuscripts? First editions?” I asked.

I collect books that have never been read or published. Take that back, I’m not sure if anyone has read them or not. I doubt it. Some of them are quite brilliant. Fantastically brilliant. Oh my goodness I am in complete awe of some of these writers.

Even the ones that aren’t finished are pretty interesting. We’re trying to piece them together and fill in the blanks. It is a puzzle. Quite the mystery on some.

The manuscripts come from the estates of people who have passed away. Their families don’t know what to do with the stuff. Or I find them in piles of papers, usually mixed with photos and other personal office ephemera. I’ve even found manuscripts at flea markets, and left in abandoned buildings.

Someone put their heart and soul into these. It would be a shame to see these stories gone forever.

I suppose some were meant to be published. I believe some people just wrote because they had to. Sort of personal therapy. You know how that is.

I’ve got a group of college students and a few others working on reading and editing. Maybe, eventually we’ll get some of them published, you know, out in the world.

Take a look around. Feel free to take a few home to read, if you promise to bring them back.”

I walked around the stacks, surprised not to see any ghosts.

“Florence, this is amazing,” said my brother.

“Thanks. You know how it is being a Vampire. One needs a hobby. I feel it is my job to be the keeper of memories that aren’t mine. Dreams that aren’t ready to die. That too,” she said.

“Thank you Florence,” I said.

She smiled and kissed my cheek with her cold lips. “You’re welcome. I’ll let you know when I start publishing some of them. You’ll have to leave good reviews.”

For the rest of the day we looked through the manuscripts and talked quietly about books, and writers, and stories of our own.

Once a story is told it will always have a life of it’s own – even if nobody ever reads it.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman