Still Life Portrait
By Mizeta Moon
There is a bench at the edge of the woods where people sit when they want to enjoy a spectacular view. A shimmering lake whose ripples gently touch a sandy shoreline fills the foreground while snow-capped peaks rise in the background. The bench itself was carved from a fallen tree over a century ago and its weathered seat has hosted thousands of visitors. Some visitors were sad and in need of an uplifting panorama. Others sought quiet respite from a noisy world. Some simply needed to rest a moment before traveling on. Photographers and painters often pause there to capture spectacular sunsets and sunrises. Me, I was looking for inspiration that would lead to a new story. Ironically, someone had left a book on the bench when they departed and it captured my attention immediately.
The book left on the bench was faded and worn. It had obviously been a treasured read throughout its life and I wondered why it was abandoned. Had someone read it, then wanted to pass it along? Was it left by accident? How long had it been there? Should I leave it for someone else to find? What if it rained? Being an author, I would feel guilt for such ruination. While I pondered these questions, my mind suddenly turned in a different direction. I started thinking about how that book came to be. The beginning, rather than the end of its life.
It stated as an idea, then flowed out of someone onto some form of manuscript. Whomever it was spent time on their labor of love. Write, edit, write, rewrite, edit some more. Like a sculptor, they shaped it into what they wanted it to be. They were probably like me in the way you ask yourself a million questions along the way. Is it scary enough to be classified as horror? If it’s romantic, does it provoke the feelings spawned by love? Is it mysterious enough to be a mystery? What am I really trying to say, and have I said it properly? When they considered it worthy of being published, they, like me, had to design a cover and develop a plan for its distribution. I know how happy and proud they felt when they first held it in their hands, as I always savor that moment when my idea enters the world as a completed project. Having people enjoy it as they read brings me a pleasure nothing else on earth can. I wondered how many had curled up with this book during its journey to this moment.
Part of me wanted to pick the book up and thumb through its pages. Another part of me felt that this still life portrait had given me what I was searching for and wanted to leave it untouched. Before I could decide, I heard footsteps on the path through the woods. Moments later, a beautiful young woman emerged from the trees and ran towards me and my silent companions. Her eyes expressed anxiety as she neared me, somewhat out of breath. When she stopped, her delight at seeing the book on the bench was obvious, and I was glad I’d left it alone. When she joyously clutched it to her breast, it verified my belief that some people consider books valuable and would be saddened by their loss. That reading a book forges a relationship between the author and the reader. Her concern for the friend she’d inadvertently left behind inspired me to keep writing stories and sending them into the world, in the hope someone like her will sit by a fire on a rainy day and consider them a worthy companion.