Half Buried

She lived on one of the Florida barrier islands in the Gulf of Mexico. Being an artist allowed her to chose the time of day to take her walks. On this September day, shortly after one of the yearly Hurricanes had moved by, she went to the beach in the middle of the afternoon. It had been littered with all sorts of debris that the big waves had carried in and tossed on to the white sugar sand. The powerful water had floated things way up into the dunes, deposited them between the clumps of seaoates.

As she walked along, careful not to step on something sharp or pointed with her bare feet, enjoying the high puffy clouds in the bright sky, something red caught her eye. She stepped over some dead blowfish, wads of seagrass and the remains of a washed up dock, all twisted, nails sticking out from the boards. The red thing lay half buried beside one of the stumps of old trees that had turned silver and had an odd alive look. A little menacing really. She did feel uncomfortable stepping between them. She pried the object loose, wiped the clinging sand off and marveled at the pretty thing she had found.

Red embellished book box

— Red embellished book box —

A book, no, a diary with a lock on it. It seemed in pretty good shape, a little moist perhaps. This was going to be fun. All sorts of possibilities went through her mind, and she felt also a small twinge of guilt. A diary is somebody’s most private possession, not to be read by another person. But this one looked abandoned, lost. Maybe she could find the owner's name and address inside, if so, she decided not to read it just out of respect for this unwritten law.

It Snapped With A Tiny Sound

After her walk she put the diary down on her painted table on the porch. How could she open it without destroying the lock? She inspected it closer. A few barnacles had settled into the ridge on the side of it, so it must have been in the water for some time. The hairpin she tried on the lock did not yield any result. She tried several other objects and at last succeeded with a bent paperclip. It snapped with a tiny sound.

Her heart pounded suddenly in her neck. Quickly she opened the cover. It was really a flat box, tightly sealed, with a small book inside. The book was very dry. A feather, tooled in leather, graced front and back of it, the pages gleamed with a gold cut. A dark green silk ribbon marked the last page near the end of the book. She opened it carefully on the marked page. A beautiful feather in all the colors of the rainbow, iridescent, shimmering with small dots, lay on the page. She did not dare touch it, it looked fragile. What kind of bird it must have belonged to...

Rainbow colored feather

Now The Words Came Out Clearly

A small sound of joy escaped her. Careful, as not to damage it, she closed the book and opened the cover to the first page. Blank. The second page. The tiniest handwriting greeted her. Too tiny to read unaided. She went to her studio to hold the book under her magnifying light. She could almost decipher the letters, but they seemed incoherent and reversed, only symbols without meaning. Puzzled, she laid the book down on her drawing table, the second page still open.

As she looked over the table into the mirror that she used to check out drawings for mistakes which revealed themselves sometimes that way in the mirror image, an idea came slowly. What if she looked at the writing in the mirror, maybe it was that simple. And so she tried, but she had to get a handheld magnifying glass to read the writing in the mirror.

Now the words came out clearly. The writing began on the right side of the page, ending on the inside. The whole book started in the back where the feather and the ribbon marked the page. The text filled all these pages evenly. No dates. No indication where it came from. She decided that it was all right then to read it. She set up the mirror in a comfortable position, held the magnifying glass in front of it and started to read.

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