The book was demurely stacked on its shelf in the general fiction section. A white spine dotted with black letters, anonymous amidst the more garish covers which attracted the eye. Ophelia’s gaze had lingered on this empty space, a welcome rest in a row where each tome was screaming for her hand to brush their backs. She picked the small volume from the bookcase and contemplated the cover for a while. It was as unpretending as the spine: the title in a classic font, and below it the author’s name in smaller letters. No indication of publishing company, no image to alleviate the white. The corners of the book were intact, and the covers bent stiffly under Ophelia’s fingers when she opened them. A slight crack, almost a sigh, suggested it had not been read before. The enticing smell of paper and ink cast its spell on Ophelia. She took the book to the nearest armchair, in an isolated corner of the library.
The first words intrigued her. By the end of the second page she was lost in them. They did not sweep her off to a faraway land of dragons and magic, nor to a distant past of ruffling skirts and powdered wigs. Instead they brought her home to herself and echoed with a deep vibration between her ribs. Soon Ophelia became quite still. Notwithstanding the hand that turned the pages at regular intervals, only her eyes moved, jumping greedily from sentence to sentence.
Time passed, and the number of pages read grew steadily. Ophelia was barely blinking and her parted lips were drying with each exhale. Hours in the book, her skin had lost its youthful glow and her fingers flexed in jerks to grab each leaf and reveal the next one. When the librarians walked around the building to warn readers they would be closing for the night, they found the white book comfortably settled in an armchair, covered in a fine coat of dust.
This piece of flash fiction was inspired by my own writing workshop "Books and their Magic". Find out more about it here : https://en.mariebretagnolle.fr/ateliers