the scarlet letter, part 1

Sacalait, sacar, saccade, saccate, saccarate…

“Miranda!”

“What do you want, Claude?” Miranda slammed shut the hefty dictionary, worn on the cover from age and the stress of being passed down through a few generations. His arm stretched out and reshelved the dictionary on the bookcase in front of him in between two worn out and outdated encyclopedias. “It would be extremely helpful if you could help us look for more of Anders’ files. Or maybe go sort with Lainey? Your choice.”

“Your bathroom has no towels!” Claude ignored Miranda and unlocked the wooden bathroom door from inside. Her patterned skirt fluttered as she threw the door open and turned back to the undecorated bathroom, gesturing towards the toilet. “I would have thought that your downstairs would be much more furnished than this! Aren’t you supposed to be rich?”

“We weren’t completely moved in yet, Claude…” Miranda sighed, rubbing his eyes. Claude slipped out of the bathroom and took the seat next to him. “And anyways, we were trying to be modest. Could you pick a book from the bottom three shelves? I haven’t quite gotten there yet.”

“Sure!” Claude’s face lit up at the chance to be useful, and she leaned forward in her chair and plucked the encyclopedia to Miranda’s dictionary’s left. She allowed it to flop open on her lap to a random article, exposing faded pages of what was once a brightly lit sky on New Years Eve.

A few loose papers floated out of the open laundry room door onto the living room carpet, and Lainey cussed under her breath as she stooped down in the doorway to collect them. Her eyes wandered up as she gathered the first couple of pages into her arms, meeting Miranda’s gaze as his hand hovered over the next encyclopedia. “Can I have some help here?”

“I guess.” Miranda abandoned the bookcase and crouched down on the other side of Lainey, scooping up crumpled papers. His eyes wandered over the headings of a few of them before handing them to the woman. Most of the documents were filled with technical explanations that Miranda didn’t have an inkling of understanding about, but a few words jumped out here and there- decantation, sublimation, extraction

“Miranda, I need those too.” Lainey snapped her fingers, and Miranda jumped out of his reverie. He surrendered the papers to the woman in front of him, who stood right back up and headed into the laundry room. Her blonde hair trailed behind her, still frazzled from the lack of sleep that the work of the past few days had stolen from her.

Miranda exhaled, releasing a long-held breath, and returned to the bookshelf. He pulled out the next encyclopedia- R through Rotini- and settled into the worn armchair. He traced his fingernails through the indents that Anders’ fingernails had left in the armrests… and promptly dropped the book to the floor after having only opened it an inch.

“What?” Claude peered up from her open pages, now of a horse flailing its limbs all around with spit flying out of its mouth. Miranda had pulled his legs up against his chest in the armchair. His contracted pupils slid over to Claude as his breath quickened.  “Don’t tell me you’re afraid of a book now!”

“It’s hollow, Claude.” Miranda reached down and presented the book, exposing the cut out alcove with a yellowed notepad curled up inside. The pages that had been mangled to form the divot were hastily adhered together, and hardened beads of school-grade glue clung to the floor of the cutout. Releasing a nervous laugh and sitting normally, Miranda added, “It just gave me a shock, is all.”

“A shock. Right.” Claude rolled her eyes and returned to the list of torture methods, a smirk forming in the corner of her mouth. “Good luck with that.”

“Thanks…?” Miranda’s breath calmed down. He pulled the notepad out of the book, coughing into his elbow and squinting his eyes as a poof of dust scattered into the air. Miranda flipped through the first few pages, filled with nothing but useless drivel and poetry scrawled so intricately as to be almost indecipherable, until he came across the only rushed and blotched sentence that could make the air around him shiver and freeze and steal the breath out of his lungs with a single kiss.

Dear Miranda, my love, things have gone horribly wrong from planned.

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