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Chapter 7: Just Have a Little Faith

“So, you are saying that the passage from the book doesn’t make sense? And you are saying that because you think it was she who wrote down the Dewey Decimal on the tail of her plane and not he. And so, there was no way he could have planned this nice little place to leave his plane in?”

I had given her the short version of the story. Obviously, I had left out the characters she did not need to know about. CC was out and so was Rationality. I made my story into a solo venture. In a strange way that made me feel good about myself: like I was the one setting things in motion, like I was the one in charge.

But that feeling did not really last.

“Umm…and you are sure it was her who wrote the tail-code?”

“What do you mean? What are you suggesting?”

“I mean it sounds a little odd that she would leave the address of the runway. Wouldn’t it make more sense for him to write the letter, find a nice place for it to land, and then put down the number on her plane?”

I admit I had not thought about this. I had simply taken for granted that it was the writer of a letter who decided where they wanted to find their reply. But this explanation made sense too. Perhaps, it made more sense if the passage was in fact linked to the letter. In any case, there was enough cause now not to dismiss this woman’s hypothesis.

“You have a point, yes.”

“I know, right?”

“I saw that.”

“Saw what?”

“The little invisible pat on the back you gave yourself just now.”

She made for so much more agreeable company when she laughed.

“I see you are finally not trying to throw me out.”

“Only till I have my glasses again. Don’t you forget that.”

“Right.”

“Anyway, we will need to see the other letters before we can conclude on whether the books themselves are important. What was the number on this one again?”

“836.912 R6M5”

“That’s back to the same shelf I guess.”

“Yeah, seems like. You know what? The day is almost dying on us. I better go collect all the paperplanes first. I have a feeling that all of them are right there in that same aisle. We can sit and dissect them the way we want afterwards.”

“I’ll come with you. This is not a simple search. The books the numbers reference are not in the place they are supposed to be. It’s usually elsewhere, with the most famous works of or about that author.”

“Relax, I got that part. I will do the running around. You will only slow us down.”

“Us? When did this become an us thing?”

“We are partners now, aren’t we? A pirate crew with a treasure map?”

“Partners? Really? I appreciate your help, but…”

“Oh come on. Are you pulling that again? I thought we were past it now.”

“No, I am serious, I should come…”

“Ssshhh. I will go get the planes. You sit tight.”

Her energy bothered me. Her familiarity bothered me. What did this woman really want? At this point I knew she was not going to run away with the letters, but there was something about her I still did not trust. And yet there was also that feeling in the gut that it was alright — that she was alright.

I knew she would take a while to come back. Roughly, I assumed it would have taken Peepex about quarter of an hour to set it all up, which meant that for her to find them all, it would take at least an hour. That was one hour I needed to fill in somehow. I wished I had my computer nearby, or at least knew the password to hers. That way I could start writing down notes for this latest letter. Rationality might have decided to bail on me, but my method was still the best way to carry out this research — everything filed, everything documented. In the absence of the computers, I knew I had to do this the old fashioned way. I went over to where the librarian sat and bought from her a couple of sheets of A4 paper.

My pirate partner took half the time I had thought she would. She came back with a pile of books with pointed tips of paperplanes sticking out. And going by the smile on her face, she seemed to have something she was dying to say too.

“I was right.”

“About the passage?”

“Yeah. Let me show you.”

“Which is the next book?”

“It’s something called Letters to a Young Poet. By a guy called Rainer Maria Rilke.”

“Oh…I know that one. Classic.”

“Yeah yeah. But hear out the letter in it first.”

I am well, dear, but my well may not be as bountiful as yours. You have not heard, then, of what happened after you left. It is better this way. I don’t have to blame you now for your knowing silence, though I will regardless continue to blame you for the silence itself, knowing or otherwise.

Try not to take my blaming to heart. Blaming you is only my way of not blaming myself. It is a way of making peace by telling myself that things were not in my hand and the one who could have done something was not there. You should feel no guilt. You had to go and so you did.

I am not in the least surprised that I found your reply waiting for me. You may have grown into a sceptic and a non-believer, but I have my faith intact. I was, however, surprised to see the you who replied. You were quite unlike yourself. You were formal, you were distant, you were afraid. I have bolder memories of you, or maybe, over the years, I have favoured the adventurous side of you and chosen to forget your fears and frailties.

I wonder, then, what you have forgotten about me, and way more importantly what you have remembered. Do you remember my face? It has changed so much now, but do you remember the one you used to sketch? Do you remember the Sunday breeze by the backyard? My hair does not fly like that anymore. And do you remember, at least, my prayer? I used to say it for you and I have continued to say it for you over the years.

“And what do the pages say?”

“Well, mostly this guy is rambling around about a lot of random things, but there’s this one passage that kinda-sorta proves my point. Hear this.”

“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”

“You see, you see? Believe in love and have faith. Also the oh-so-obvious reference to solitude and everything.”

“Hmm…I agree. It is a little too much to be a coincidence.”

“I know, right? What would you have done without me?”

“It’s not like I am missing anything if I miss these passages. They just seem to be an extra feel-good thing. The letters, the words written in ink, those are the actual treasures.”

“Oh come on. Don’t be such a sour loser now. Just admit it. I am useful.”

“Alright, I admit. You are useful. Now, show me the rest.”

“Now, don’t you forget your own words, okay?”

“Okay. Can we move on?”

“In a minute, sure. But there is something else you need to know.”

“What?”

“I didn’t find the last book. It’s gotten issued.”

“What! You serious? It got issued today?”

“Must be. I checked the terminal. The book with that Dewey Decimal is checked out.”

“What the….What do we do now? We need to find it. How do we find it? Let’s go talk to the librarian.”

“Calm down. Panicking will send you spinning down again.”

“But you don’t understand. We will lose it forever.”

“No we won’t. In the worst case, your friend has a copy, remember?”

“But…”

“Listen to the girl in the letter, will you? Just have a little faith. We will figure this out. First, let’s look at the other letters.”

“Okay. Okay. Alright. We can do that.”

The next chapter will be out on Friday, 24 February, at 10 AM.

Treasure Aisle is a new original fiction series. In this story spanning two literary decades, the books in a public library will guide a retired one-hit-wonder-writer on an impulsive quest for finding a reason to love again.