The Scandalous Note
A Writer’s Book of Days (01/17) – Write About A Time You Found Out About Something You Weren’t Supposed To Know
I’ve been an avid reader, ever since I was a child. I’d read anything I could get my hands on, and the wall-to-ceiling bookshelf in our old living room was a gold mine – my particular favorites were a National Geographic anthology and the Lexicon Universal Encyclopedia set. Strange kid, I know.
One day, when I was eight, I pulled out an illustrated herbal encyclopedia. As I flipped through the pages, a white piece of notepaper fell out. I read the decidedly adult cursive, which described a man my mother was to meet at the airport. He was tall, had a mustache, was a romantic, and would bring flowers. He had a very basic name, like Paul or Allen. Oh, it was scandalous. My parents were divorced and my father had remarried, but I didn’t know there was such a fellow in my mother’s life.
I couldn’t breathe a word of this – I didn’t want to get in trouble for snooping. Nor was I going to tell my little sister, who would likely use it as ammunition against me later. I had no one to tell this secret. I tucked the note back into the book – it was between the marjoram and marshmallow root pages. I made sure to put it back in the exact place I found it.
As far as I knew, there was never such a man. Once in a while, I’d take the book out and look at the note again. Then we moved, and the book was long forgotten, stored in a box with cookbooks somewhere in the basement.
But when I was in my early 20s, a renovated kitchen meant there was more room for the books. Mom brought the box up from the basement and took the books out one by one, piling them on the table. At the top of one pile was the herbal dictionary and I quickly grabbed it, shaking out the pages. No note fell out. I thumbed through to the marshmallow root page. Nothing.
Mom asked what I was doing. So more than 12 years late, I confessed my knowledge of the mysterious stranger. She looked baffled. Apparently, she didn’t remember the note, nor had she ever met such a man. I described what I read, and she laughed. She said it sounded like a dream a friend had and wrote down for her or something an astrologer might have told her. I believed her – there would be no reason why she’d not let me in on a romance so many years after the fact.
It was certainly the longest time I’ve ever had to keep a secret. And when you’re eight, that seems like an eternity.