The Last Pages

When Lydia finds a letter in a book with the ending missing, she makes it her personal mission to find the ending to the story. Such a feat marks a summer-long conquest that leads to more than just a story's end.

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1. The Book

The brush of paper was smooth between my fingertips as I leafed through the book, a slight flickering sound accompanying the bustle of the bookshop. When I reached the back of my chosen inspection, a ruffled spine appeared where several pages had been struck from their home.

I was filled with a mixture of annoyance and curiosity. The pages had not been hastily ripped by accident, it was clear; the mark where the ending pages, the conclusion of the story should be, were smoothly cut. I grumbled under my breath and began to close the book, intending to replace it on the shelf and search the shelves for a second copy, feeling a distaste at the kind of prankster who would deliberately destroy something like that. As I reached above my head to replace the glossy spine where I had found it, an envelope fluttered from the book and landed, serenely on the greying carpet, innocently poised; like a butterfly resting on a patchwork flower. As I bent down to captivate it, I caught a flash of my watch.

Oh.

I grabbed the envelope and stuffed it rapidly in my pocket, rushing for the till with the book in my hand and staring at my watch whilst I progressed slowly through the queue. I was supposed to have been there  twenty minutes ago. I felt my phone vibrate against my leg as if to chastise me. Probably my mother. With no time to check it, I got reached the front of the queue and hastily shoved the book on the desk, almost dropping it in the process.. The slightly taken aback assisstant scanned it in, looking peterbed, presumably at the overwhelming display of idiocy I had practically waved in front of her. 

“Do you have a loyalty card?”

“No,” I lied, not wanting the extra moment's pause it would take. I could feel every moment ticking away on a clock.

"Would you like one?"

"No," I said, again.

"Are you sure? They're free, you know; it'll only take a moment."

"No, really," I said. "I don't need one." I tried not to glare.

She reaised an eyebrow, paused for an agonising moment, then placed the book in the bag. “That's twelve pounds ninety nine please.” I shoved the money on the table for the book with the broken pages that I could not remember the name of.

"Keep the change," I mumbled, not waiting for the receipt. I practically ripped the bag out of her hand and turned away, then glanced back for a moment. “Thanks.”

Still with a slightly peterbed expression, the shop assisstant shrugged. “Uh, you're welcome.”

I would have run out of the shop were it not for my dignity, and I bustled along the high street of my town to finally reach the desired coffee shop.

“Sorry, Mum,” I panted.

She sighed and tipped the remains of a coffee down her throat. “You missed the actual coffee part of this meeting, but whatever. Enjoy yourself?”

I nodded.

“Another book?” she said, the hints of an amused smile creeping at her lips. “I wondered what was taking so long.” I didn't say anything, and just ran a hand through my cropped hair so that it was perfectly aligned.

I could almost feel the envelope burning in my pocket, glinting with the flames of promise, as my mother grabbed my arm and steered me towards the parked car.

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