I had always been told that a man of few words is wise and a fool speaks relentlessly. But, unlike others my book contained no words and it had been like that ever since. Mum said I was a late bloomer and that she didn't have words until she was twelve. I was 15, and I still didn't have mine! Other books flourished in continuous well-written speeches while I would be isolated in my own room, furiously flipping through my book's pages of vast emptiness.
Everyone was said to have a book of their own, and not just the ordinary books they kept at school libraries. These books were called pods. Your pod was to record every event of your life, constantly writing on the limitless pages of your own book in crystalline ink and finally seals shut at the end of the day. Whoever wrote on these books, no one knew, but grandpa once said that it was related to a person's spirit and what would be written in the book is a reflection of one's soul. That freaked me out. What if I weren't aware of my own soul's essence? What if I were the kind of person my pod told me I was? Some void, empty piece of sheet. Lately, people had been securing their books for fear that their whole life would be written differently even by just a single stroke of ink.
Back in the day when everyone normally just brought their pods with them anywhere, a classmate of mine accidentally elbowed the person beside him who happened to be reading his pod. Unfortunately, this kid had a pen in hand and blotted his own book with material ink.
"Oh no no no no.. Missus Pea!"
He panicked in his seat, immediately wiping the ink off his pod with his hands then his shirt, until it had just spread over the whole page. Missus Pea came in and he was immediately brought to the emergency room. Nothing really happened since that blot of ink made no words that could have affected his lifeline but I kid you not when I say his skin turned blue for a few months. Then there was another in the news when a robber got a hold of a police officer's pod and shielded himself with it just as they were about to shoot him. Their head lifted his right hand, signalling every officer to hold their fire but one officer pulled a trigger just before they were warned. One of the bullets hit right at the center of the book but instead of completely obliterating as I was told should happen, it stayed intact. They looked at the officer who owned that pod and he was completely fine. Restless, even and started firing at his own pod. That still didn't stop the thief from stepping backwards due to the intensive force of the bullets. I guess it had something to do with what grandpa said about the reflection of one's soul. Maybe that officer had one of pure essence.
But could they explain mine? Had I no essence? Had I become what I feared to be?
Jane must have done it. She must have written with that ink in her pod. I trusted her. We were told that that ink was extracted from the lifeblood of a living star only to be used with pure intentions and since no one was completely sure of their own, it was locked away, stashed in one of the libraries of our school centuries past.
Jane was thirteen and I was three years younger when we found a hidden passageway along the halls of the school's north library. I just happened to pass by when I saw her standing under a huge arch followed by a pitch black of emptiness at the end where the ancestral pods' shelf used to stand.
"Oh no. Don't tell me you lost those pods."
She held close to hers and looked at me with a huge grin on her face. I couldn't help but feel like blood has been drained from my head but I looked at her, and her eyes had once again caught my attention. Jane had the most beautiful eyes, a strange distortion of bright blue and green. What's even stranger is when her emotions intensify, the colors become more vibrant making it even more magnificent.
She grabbed both my wrists and squealed in excitement as she rapidly stomped her feet one after the other.
"I think I found that dungeon Professor Hund told us not enter!"
This girl was nuts.
She dragged me in anyway as I was so unwilling to be involved in such a crime. But I had my fun. We found old books, artifacts and even that old painting I saw in the one of the library's book once. As we got further and further away from where we got in, Jane found an empty shelf with an ink bottle at the corner. Inscribed were the words Per aspera ad astra which meant, Through hardships to the stars. She held it with both hands like she had found golden treasure and looked at me with a massive smile while biting her lower lip. As she sat down bringing out a quilt from her pocket and her pod on her lap, she opened the bottle.
"What should we write first?"
"I don't think we should be doing this Jane.." I looked behind me then at her.
"Oh don't be like that! We're just having fun. Now, we can write how you and Den are going to end up ten years from now. Yep. Let's try that first."
"Fine fine. I was kidding. I just really wanted to look at the ink bottle. It's so cool."
She put the bottle back from where she got it and gave one big pat at the back. "See? We're fine. Let's go!"
We left the library and went straight to our homes.
The next day, Jane left town and with her, the bottle. I knew she brought it with her because as soon as I had heard she left, I went back to that dungeon to check if her curiosity had gotten the best of her. It did.
It had been five years since then. I wouldn't know what she did but I did know that anything that was happening had something to do with Jane and the astra ink.
I looked at my pod and still, empty at the first page down to the last.