Flash Fiction: Surreal ~ The Scribbling in the Margins

Strand Bookstore, New York City

by LJ Frank

You really have, shall I say, peculiar literary tastes.

Why do you say that?

You look for books with scribbling in them?

More precisely I look for books with scribbling in the margins. Marginalia.

I never understood marginalia. Markings devalue the book.

Not for me. You see, periodically I find hidden gems of knowledge similar to an annotated footnote, especially in older books where someone might have left a note or an idea that might shed some light on the text itself and also on the person who jotted down their thoughts.

And what have you discovered in your most recent purchase?

The person(s) that read the book before me…well one of then wrote some words that didn’t make any sense at first but after reading the text a few times the adjacent scribblings caused me to pause. It was like a message the reader wanted to convey should the book survive and be read by a specific person.

What do you think the message was?

Well…the first jotting was directed to someone that the reader knew and it directed attention to another work by another author with the words, would be good when upon reading this, promptly look for the other book-in your best interest.

Somewhat enigmatic I suppose.

I thought so.

Do you have any idea to who it might have directed the message to?

After much thought I realized who it was

Seriously? Who?


You? Why you?

The writing was inscribed with a back slant to each of the letters, as if a right-handed person was imitating a left-handed person.


I then realized.


It was this book that brought back some very engaging memories. The message was to me. I wrote the message to me should the book come into my hands at a later date.

You’re joking.


Why? I don’t…okay, what did the second message say?

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

Oh, please.

That was the exact second scribbling that I wrote in the margins of this book 25 years ago. And it relates to the first scribbling.

Good grief. May I ask?


Have you thought about therapy?

You mean bibliotherapy?