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Bilal Shah
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The binding of the book was soft. Particularly soft for how old it was. You keep kneeling on the uneven cement of the driveway surrounded by other Sunday morning bargain shoppers. It was a short book not even 50 pages. You open the thick cover and read the inscription. (Any who read this book will become one year younger and hold onto all memories of the life already lived. Proceed with caution, proceed with certainty.) You shut the book quickly, standing twice as fast. Eyes wide both excited and scared. You walk to the off blue folding table and inquire about the book. A women wearing clothes screaming for more room huffed and stood lumply and began rummaging through a box to her left. As you wait you can't tell if you are feeling your pulse or the pulse of the book itself. As you begin to investigate the women grunts and hands you an stained polaroid of a young man sitting at a large oak desk with the book in his lap and a grin on his face. You begin forming a question but before you can ask she interrupts you will a loud declaration of $5 take it or leave it. Her eyes bulged and her breath became impatient. You reach in your back pocket handing her a ten dollar bill and walk away briskly. Now at your car your nerves are making your knees quake and your hands unsteady. The weight of the car door and the hard slam that follows helps bring you back to reality. You toss the book on the passenger seat and promptly place your hands on the wheel. Your mind answers a question you have been asking since you laid hands on this item. A year ago today I would of been on a work retreat back in Upstate New York. At this exact time I would of been participating in the tug of war bringing up the rear not being to helpful. As your mind floats back to the time at hand you notice the book cover open displaying the inscription. Had I left it this way? You close it with one hand and grab your keys with the other slamming them into the ignition. As the engine idled the question in your heart was too great to leave unanswered. You go to grab the book but it feels as though it actually grabbed you. You fumble with the pages finding the first page and begin to franticly read. The large text seems to slightly raise off the page as you read each word. There couldn't be more than 20 words per page. Your pace quickens as coordinated letters flash by you. TRUST, REDO, UNDERSTAND, LIVE, BUILD, STOP, SHAPE, DESTROY. Your head feels light but you continue. Finally the weight of the book falls from your hands and you feel something pulling on your arms. “Come on pull! Come on, just because you are in the back doesn't mean you can phone it in.” You drop the rope. Eyes wide both excited and scared. You look for your exit back. You look for the book but the only thing you find is a life already lived.

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