#Nightgale Challenge Week 4: The Journal

26 Jan

PROMPT : Writing is Immortality

Keats – “But on the viewless wings of Poesy, Though the dull brain perplexes and retarts: Already with thee! Tender is the night, And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,”(Ode To a Nightingale)

(For the first three installments in this mini-series, see A Cure For Death, Dinnertime Conversation, and The Churchyard.)


The Journal

I stand in the doorway of the room, the room that was my sister’s. The room that bears no trace of her ever having lived there, apart from the book with the faded leather cover which rests on the crisply-folded linen sheets. Swallowing, I perch on the bed beside it, and cautiously touch the cover.

Two nights before, Elisabeth had been in a strange mood, methodically filling the pages of the little tome, hurried and yet oddly serene. The next morning she had been gone, leaving only the book behind. I flip open the cover, and see an inscription in her handwriting, clear and smooth but with a tendency to disregard the lines.

“To be deciphered only if I should fail in my quest.” I read, feeling a growing dread in the pit of my stomach. “For while I am still able to die, these words will live on forever, and allow anyone who wishes to continue this pursuit to do so.”

Fingers trembling, I turn the page. I do not know for certain if Elisabeth has ‘failed in her quest’, but I know my sister, and I don’t believe that she would have left the book unless she believed that failure was likely. But as my eyes fall on the next page I give a sound that is part-chuckle, part-groan. ‘Decipher’ was the correct word; the book consists entirely of diagrams and drawings, explained with a series of complicated symbols, the like of which I have never seen before in my life. This book may contain the cure for death, but to understand it one would first have to understand Elisabeth.

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2 Responses to “#Nightgale Challenge Week 4: The Journal”

  1. Margaret (charitygirlblog) January 26, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    This sounds like the beginning of a really interesting story…. I want to find out more about both characters. I love the way you set the scene and the hook in one simple sentence: “The room that bears no trace of her ever having lived there, apart from the book with the faded leather cover which rests on the crisply-folded linen sheets.” Immediately we know it’s all about the book!

  2. David A Ludwig January 29, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    Ack, you really got me with this one! I refuse to believe Elisabeth failed because I like her too much! I actually like the very first line the best, “I stand in the doorway of the room, the room that was my sister’s.”

    Maybe a big part of that is because it’s about Elisabeth and I loved her so much as a character and in one sentence it feels like she’s been taken away from me. I love how with or without Elisabeth present the narrator’s relationship of trying and nearly managing to understand her continues in the form of the journal to be deciphered.
    I choose to believe that Elisabeth succeeded and over some length of time the narrator comes to understand her, to translate the journal and then be re-united with Elisabeth after determining where she went or what happened to her–but part of the power here is we really don’t know what happens.

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