“I’ll tell you later,” the mysterious man replied to an eager and impatient Alice.
She sighed with disappointment but also knew that time was creeping towards opening hours and she needed to get back to the front desk before anyone noticed.
“Yeah, I better go now,” Alice agreed, suddenly too aware of the fact that she was not supposed to be here. She swiftly headed towards the exit and then paused to turn to the man, “thanks so much for showing me around. I know you didn’t have to… nor were you even supposed to.”
“Don’t mention it,” he said with a slight grin and head tilt that made Alice’s heart skip a beat.
“Just one last thing,” she added, “I’m so sorry but… what was your name again?” she asked with nervous laughter.
“You can call me Q.Z.”
As the day went on, Alice could not stop thinking about what a fascinating morning she had. She wondered when she would be able to go to the attic again, perhaps late during the night. The books were so intriguing, maybe she could convince Q.Z. to let her borrow just one… or two… or a whole collection. But what she truly wanted to know more about were those letters!
By closing time, she still hadn’t seen Q.Z. Tomorrow was a new day. Alice’s mind was full of so much curiosity that she had to start writing down all her thoughts and questions just to keep track of them.
The next day, she did not see him at all. And then a full week went by and she still hadn’t seen him. It wasn’t fair; he left her with so many questions. She found herself desperately asking co-workers about a “Q.Z.” — but they were clueless. No one knew who he was. She even went so far as to describe his appearance to others, and nobody knew who she was talking about.
Fueled with frustration, Alice decided to return to the attic. Once again she arrived at the library in the early morning hours before sunrise. She climbed up the same ladder and found the same spare key to open the locked door.
“Hello?!” she called out as soon as she entered the attic. “Q.Z.?”
Her heart was beating super fast. She knew she could not stay for long, but since she was already here… she casually gravitated towards the chest full of letters. Unsure if it was her imagination or not, she thought she heard footsteps, which made her panic. Acting quickly, she grabbed a random letter, folded it up, and then stuffed it in her pocket. She ran and hid behind one of the bookshelves. Waiting for a minute… she no longer heard any noises, and so she made a brisk exit.
Alice ran to the bathroom and locked the door so she could read the random letter she had grabbed. Why am I so drawn to these letters? she asked herself, what is this need to find out more about them? Why did I have to steal one?! Oh my gosh, I am totally going to get caught up for this… I don’t care! I have to know!
I was pondering over the thought of “memories.” What does it mean to have a memory? How can we trust that we remember things the right way? What good do memories serve us?
The bad memories are so painful. My heart becomes as heavy as a stone and falls to the ground. My face turns stiff. My throat tightens and it becomes hard to breathe. The world around me has a bluish tint. I want to run away screaming at the top of my lungs. They serve as a painful reminder that the past is NEVER in the past. And so I forget the bad memories.
The good memories… those are almost worse. The good memories mock me with evil laughter. I will never be able to relive them. My veins contract as it becomes harder for my heart to pump blood throughout my body. They serve as a painful reminder that the past is ALWAYS in the past. And so I forget the good memories.
What am I left with? I am left with the present… the beautiful present! That is all we need. I can inhale and exhale with ease. There is no sense of separation. Everything simply is as it is.
Love always, xoxo.
Alice thought — if some strange and puzzling man who goes by “Q.Z.” is going to get her hooked on a mystery and then completely disappear, then she is just going to have to solve it herself.
Unsure of where to start, that night, Alice turned to the Internet. First, she did more research about the library and if there was any information regarding “the secret attic” — nope, there was nothing. Next, she tried to figure out ways she could accurately DNA test the letter — no such luck. Finally she gave up, and determined that she would just have to go back to the attic tomorrow morning until she found her answers, no matter the risk.
That next day before sunrise, she once again returned to the attic. Startled, she noticed that a light was already on. She cautiously peered her head in to see who was there — and there he was!
As soon as Q.Z. spotted her, he motioned her to quickly come inside. So she locked the door behind her and anxiously ran over to him.
“Where’ve you been?” Alice shouted, “You left me with so many questions! You told me you would explain everything!”
“Shhh!” he quieted her in a soft voice, “Listen. If you care about your safety, your health, your life… you’re going to have to pretend you were never up here. You know absolutely nothing.”
“What’s going on?” Alice nervously asked. It was like a totally different man — face pale, body stiff, and eyes anxiously wide. Not the cool and composed image she remembered.
“You need to return that letter. You can’t be sneaking up here, stealing things, trying to get more information. You’re going to get yourself sucked down a tunnel you do not want to go down.”
“Who wrote them? Why are they stashed away up here with all these forbidden books? I don’t understand why, but I just have to know!”
“Knowledge is dangerous,” he shook his head, “there are some things you should be happy not to know.”
“Knowledge is power,” Alice struck back.
“And power is dangerous.”
“I’m sorry, I’m not trying to get you into trouble and I will gladly forget everything if that’s what makes you happy. Can you please just tell me who wrote these letters? And then my mind can finally settle in peace.”
He stood there in silence like he was heavily contemplating what he wanted to say next. Finally, he burst out, “you wrote those letters!”
“Huh?” Alice stared at him, completely perplexed.
“You wrote these letters in secret. You had to disguise your handwriting,” he explained, “of course you can’t remember…”
“How is that even possible?” She asked, “what’s going on?”
To be continued…