what if the words in a book could take you to another place - literally?
Chapter Thirty ~ Tasmin
Tasmin brushed her fingers over the book’s crimson spine, curious. What was so special about it that had made Tori hide it in her closet? She flipped the book over to the front, but was surprised to see that it had no title.
She turned the cover of the book, and saw that a small, pretty drawing of a flower had been drawn in black ink in the top, right-hand corner of the page - the rest of the page was blank. In the middle of the flower was an ‘F.’
She flipped over to the next page. The print was small, and the pages were worn with age, but Tasmin could still read it.
Let me tell you a story, dear reader. It is a story of love, of heartbreak, of family, of many things - but the key thing to understand, reader, is that one day, this story will be yours.
Tasmin felt the words wrap around her heart, squeeze her chest, engulf her mind, and soon the world around her began distorted and fade away into nothingness. She could hear her her heartbeat, like a persistent knock on the door, the magic begging to be let into her soul. Magic, she thought. Is that really what it is?
Yes, she decided. Magic.
It was magic. It wasn’t madness. It wasn’t a cruel joke. It wasn’t a series of hallucinations. I mean, sure, it was confusing, and strange, and incredible - but in the end, isn’t that what magic is portrayed as in the fairytales and stories we are told as children?
A world began to form around her. Tasmin saw hills, covered in green, green grass, and a stone path, which her feet were placed on. No, it wasn’t a path. It was more of a road.
In an unexpected instant, Tasmin felt a sharp pain stab at her temples. She winced, and cried out in pain. She felt the world flicker in front of her, the image slowly fading away. What was happening? It was like a shield of some sort was blocking her mind, preventing her from entering the words’ content.
Like a barrier.
She suddenly found herself back in Tori’s bedroom, clutching at her seemingly compressed chest, gasping for air. She groaned. Her head felt like it had been smashed against a brick wall.
Barrier. Like a barrier for the mind.
Tasmin opened her eyes as realisation struck her. She fumbled around her, and grabbed the leather log book. She opened to the page she had read before, Day 14.
E and I try several different methods, but I can confirm that the barrier is still prevalent in all situations.
The barrier. What if...
What if they had been trying to get into the book?
Tasmin suddenly heard the front door slam shut, and gasped.
“Tasmin, honey? You downstairs?”
Tori was home.
She quickly put the book back into the brass box, then placed the box and the log book back into the compartment. She rushed into the hallway just as Tori came around the corner.
“Hi, Tori,” Tasmin stammered.
“Hey, how are you? Are you feeling better?” Tori walked into her bedroom and placed her purse on her bed.
“Yeah, thanks,” Tasmin said.
“That’s good.” Tori sat down on her bed and took of her shoes.
“Where were you?” Tasmin asked suddenly.
“Sorry?” Tori looked confused.
“This morning. Dad said you were out. What were you doing?” Tasmin tried to erase the cold tone from her voice, but it was impossible. Her suspicions had already multiplied enough to affect her vocal cords.
Tori smiled. “I was out with a friend. We went to a brunch-y sort of thing.”
“Oh,” was all Tasmin said. She had expected something like ‘Oh, um, I...I was definitely not practising a secret power that I have and suspect you have too.’ “That’s nice.”
“Yes, it was. We haven’t caught up in years.” Tori said, still smiling. “It was great to see each other. I also needed some help with something very important.”
“What?” Tasmin knew she sounded intrusive, but she was still suspicious. “What did you need help with?”
“Something a little private, I’m afraid,” Tori frowned.
“Something to do with Dad?”
“Kind of, yes.”
There was a silence.
“Tasmin, can I ask you something?” Tori said in an unusually solemn tone.
“Yeah, what is it?”
Tori patted the bed beside her, indicating that she wanted Tasmin to sit down. Tasmin obeyed, but sat reasonably far away from her.
“I just want you to know that I am aware of how hard this must be for you,” Tori began. “Starting afresh only a year after losing someone who was so close to you.”
“I’m not starting anything afresh,” Tasmin argued. “I’m still living the same life I was when she died.”
“Okay,” Tori continued. “Let me rephrase that. I know how hard it must be to watch your father starting afresh only a year after he and you both lost someone who played a significant role in your lives.”
“And Michael.”
“And Michael. The thing is, I lost my parents when I was...even younger than you. I’m not initiating a pity contest, honey, I just want you to know that I know it’s hard to handle something like this.”
Tori opened up her closet, then, and bent down to the place Tasmin had been just moments before. She brought out the photo of her and her parents in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.
“They died when I was only eleven years old,” Tori said, as she sat back down on the bed. She stroked the photo with her fingertips. “My first year at middle school, and I had to introduce myself as the ‘girl with no parents.’”
Tasmin felt as if there were a thousand things to say to Tori - but she didn’t say anything.
“This photo was taken just two weeks before it happened,” Tori said. “It was a horrible accident - it was completely unexpected and overwhelming for everyone in the family. Especially me.”
“What kind of accident?”
“It was caused by...a secret - one that my parents had kept from everyone. Sometimes you have to keep secrets to keep the people you love safe.” Tori looked over at Tasmin, and smiled, a tear rolling down her cheek. “In the end, the fact that they kept this dangerous secret was what ended their lives.”
Tasmin smiled back at her. It was a forced smile, but it was necessary. “What happened after that? Where’d you go?” She felt bad for pressing for details, but she was curious about Tori’s life in the U.S.
“I moved in with my uncle and aunt. They raised me in a way that protected me from the secret. And I will forever be grateful for that. I left home right after finishing school, and went to live in Stanford so that I could go to college there.”
“You got a place at Stanford University?”
“Yep.” Tori grinned, and wiped the tears off her face. “I know, I don’t look like a Stanford girl, do I?”
“I wouldn’t know,” Tasmin laughed. “I’ve never really seen a ‘Stanford girl’ before now.”
“Oh, right,” Tori said. “Well, anyway, I studied to become a teacher for four years there, and then moved back to San Fransisco to teach at my old middle school.”
“Yeah. I had been teaching there ever since before I met your dad.”
Another long silence.
“What I was trying to say before is that I’m sorry I barged into your life like this, Tasmin,” Tori placed a hand on hers. “I know what it’s like to lose someone, but I don’t know what it’s like to have that person replaced - although I know I will never replace your mother. It must be the hardest thing...”
“Dad told you to tell me this, didn’t he?” Tasmin said suddenly.
“What? Honey, no...”
“He told you to give me a good old girl-to-girl chat, huh? Well, I’ll tell you what, Tori. This isn’t some chick flick where the we have a heartfelt conversation and then become best friends because we totally understand each other - it’s nothing like that.”
“Tasmin, please, that isn’t what this is.”
“Really? Then what is it?” Tasmin looked at her, infuriated.
Tori looked heartbroken. She wrung her hands nervously.
“My mum died, Tori,” Tasmin said quietly. “That’s not something I can just talk about to someone and then completely forget about it. Trust me, I have seen psychologists. Do you know how many counsellors I went through before I found one that I could actually trust and speak to?”
“Tasmin, this isn’t about trust.”
“It is, Tori. It’s all about trust. You said your parents had a secret. The reason they died was because they didn’t trust anyone with it! The reason secrets exist is because trust issues are part of what makes us human! Life is just one big test of who you trust and who you don’t. It’s a test about getting to know who your true friends are by whether or not you would put your life in their hands. Everything is about trust. If we had the ability to share everything and anything with the people around us, the world’s entire structure would fall apart.” Tasmin felt the tears streaming down her cheeks. “It’s not secrets that make us who we are. It’s whether we decide to share them, and who we share them with.”
She felt like she should walk away. Slam the door behind her. She felt embarrassed, and infuriated, and terrified, and confused.
Tori didn’t say anything. She just placed a gentle hand on Tasmin’s shoulder. “Do you have a secret, Tasmin?”
Tasmin looked up at Tori. “I know that you have one.”

Keep Reading

Chapter 31

Chapter Thirty-One ~ Tasmin

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