Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Reader (short story)

He always loved reading. He read books and newspapers even before his governess was supposed to teach him reading and writing.
His parents were so proud of him and his father loved to tell everyone who showed even a little interest, how intelligent his son was. Yes, 'his' son. It was only 'their' son if the little boy did not live up the expectation of his father who also wanted to teach him horse riding, hunting and mathematics because, one day he was going to be the Monarch of the Glen. The grand estate and Loch Locherty was going to be his, long after everyone else had gone. Therefore the father was hoping for male offspring of his son and decided who the boy was going to marry long before he could read. As said before, this was at a very young age.

The father introduced his son to the visitors, standing near the enormous fireplace in the cold and dark hallway with in the middle a pompous staircase that led to the first floor, surrounded by hunting trophies and portraits of proud and grim looking ancestors.
Waving with one of his costly cigars made of the finest tobacco, his round belly pushed forward like a display for the golden watch chain, he exposed his young child as the 'natural equivalent' of his own bright and well developed brains which of course his whole pedigree was well known for.
The child learned at a young age that he was more a subject of proud presentation than a son of flesh and blood with emotions and feelings.
His books rescued him from the harsh and cruel world within the boundaries of his existence in the Scottish Highlands with no one else than his father, a mother with a long lasting migraine, a governess who was not known for her exceptional beauty and a long row of servants he was not allowed to talk to: "They will not add anything valuable to your intelligence."

Maybe this was one of the reasons he started to read books at such a young age. His governess was more than willing to teach him the alphabet and to help him to decrypt the symbols called letters.
The children books given to him were soon not satisfying enough and he silently slipped into the library to hide a book or two under his silk blouse to read them in the nursery.

It took a few years before the father heavily disappointed, discovered that all his son could do was reading. Of course he blamed his wife - still suffering from headaches - who had little interest in her son. But to no avail.
The governess was blamed but was not fired because she kept his Lordship's bed warm during lonely nights and she was good at it.

The boy grew up without love but with the wonderful stories in all the books of the library of Bramhall Castle. He read and read and read. And after his father passed away and the governess became the nurse of his mother, he openly sat in a chair near the roaring fire in the library. The servants brought him food and drinks and kept the fire burning all year round.

The boy became a man who's mother passed away. The governess stayed but was seldom seen; her old rheumatic feet could not walk the stairs any more. And when she finally died followed by a modest funeral, the Reader did not even notice it.
Surrounded by his books, he never felt lonely. Not even when all the servants left the house and he had to take care of his own. He survived a long time on little food and water. While he sat in his straight chair behind the old folding table covered in books, the castle crumbled down around him. Ceilings gave up and caused an extra layer of dust on top of the books in the library. And on top of the reader with his long white beard and hair, his skin tightly leathered around his bones.

Photo: @forgottenheritage (Instagram)
This is what the brave adventurist saw when he explored the long forgotten castle, embedded in large bramble bushes, ferns, trees and so many varieties of weed he never saw before.
The silence in the library, the old man in the chair who still held a book in his mummified hands, he would never forget this.
The police came and said they were going to investigate the 'suspicious' death of the man everybody had forgotten about.

The adventurist returned to the castle shortly after the body was removed and took a photo. The chair as shiny as 30 years ago; shielded by the body of the Reader against thick layers of dust.


Word of thanks: the photo of @forgottenheritage (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. "I am a great admirer of the photo's of your Instagram account!"

Link: the beautiful book Forgotten Heritage by Matthew Emmett

Note: the story is pure fiction!A figment of my imagination!


  1. Anonymous10:35 pm

    Thanks for some other fantastic post. The place else may anybody get that kind
    of info in such an ideal way of writing?
    I have a presentation next week, and I am on the search for such info.

    1. Thank you for your kind words!
      My stories pop-up in my mind and than I write them.
      Of course I listen to the advice of other writers and publishers.

      There will be publishers and/or online communities with writing courses on line.
      The most important is that there is a beginning, middle and end in your story/presentation. The beginning is the introduction of your subject, the middle is the real story and leading to the end where you say goodbye to the subject or leave a goodbye partly open when it needs a follow up.

      Good luck!!

  2. Anonymous12:18 am

    I like it 😊 I guess I must be the adventurist? Matt xxx

    1. Thank you Matt. You are the artistic adventurist from the perspective of this writer :-) Helen xxx