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Mr. Linden's Library (1 Viewer)

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This is a short story I wrote based on Harris Burdick's picture "Mr. Linden's Library" with the tag line "He warned her about the book. Now it was too late." Found here:

I'm not to crazy about the story myself. After I wrote it, I think it sounds pretentious and out-of-character for me, as well as not having a good flow or getting to the point enough to fit my perfectionist standards. I just want to know if anyone likes it, or if you have any critiques for me. All would be useful. :)
Mr. Linden’s Library​

The day was dreary and cold, the sky sodden with grey-white clouds, completely blocking off any hope of the sun’s joyous rays making their way to Earth’s cold surface, to brighten the moods of the many people that walked it. The sky was a replica of Annabeth’s mood: dreary and cold. It was around noon-time, and as Annabeth walked the streets of Amsterdam, she came upon a small building she had not noticed before.

Mr. Linden’s Library; the old, saggy sign said, the drooping black letters sprawled out about it in a messy fashion. There was but one window on the aging building — a perfect square piece of glass in the mounds of fading, red bricks that served as its walls. The door, propped open by a round, silver stone was inviting her, waiting to be opened; its rusty knob touched, as if it itself needed the warmth of the feeling. It was as if the building was calling to her. The dim, yellow glow from the other side of the door beckoning her to cure the raging curiosity that welled like a balloon inside her as she wondered what could possibly be behind the building’s ruined exterior.

Annabeth, a clumsy lady, walked the small distance to the door from her place on the crackling sidewalk, and touched her hand to the doorknob. It was as if an electric current had been shot through her body, pulsing through her veins until it reached her very core before the feeling faded away from her fingertips, leaving her in a state of numbness. She stood frozen before the crumpled building, moving again only when the sickly numb feeling evaporated and she was returned to the same mood she was in before. She pushed open the door, surprised by the nearly weightless and hollow frame. She stumbled into a dusty statue, trying to steady it and herself at the same time.

The library was small, few shelves filling up the emptiness of the room. Candles hung high on the walls, emitting a dull, lemony light that stroked the walls, painting them a pale gold. With crippled, dirty books lining the crooked shelves, tumbling down on top of each other in disorderly heaps – the library looked aged and ageless. An old, wooden desk sat in the far east wall, crisp, new cut papers scattered about the smooth surface. A simple pen sat sulkily on a stack of disarrayed papers. A short, elderly man sat behind the desk, whom she assumed to be Mr. Linden. He was thin and weary, his ripe hand moving sluggishly across the page, his feeble fingers curled tightly around the pen he was holding.

He had snowy white hair that fluffed off his balding head in large tuffs, liver spots that dotted his pinched, wrinkled skin stood out on his paled skin. Facing her was the right side of his face, it was aged and sagging; wrinkles folded over wrinkles as the skin cascaded down his face. His nose was lop-sided, as well as his antiqued mouth.

“Excuse me,” Annabeth said softly, her voice just loud enough for the older man to hear. The timeworn figure looked up, and she was instantly mesmerized by his eyes. They weren’t as she had expected. They weren’t old and dull, as was the rest of him. No, they were young, bright, and alive. Green. They were so green. Like a fresh spring day, or a lone leaf with water droplets dripping from its edges. And even familiar, somehow. His eyes met hers briefly, and then he went back to writing, hand lumbering across the page once more.

Annabeth loved to read. She was an avid reader, you could say. Most of her shelves were filled with books, books, and more books. Some old. Some new. The stories fascinated her. She wanted to be an author someday, to give the people the pleasure she got when she read a book. Each one was like an adventure for her, waiting for her to discover its treasures.

Okay, that was a little weird, Annabeth thought as she strolled over to inspect the books, remembering the older man’s haunty stare. She picked a rather large book off the second shelf. It was filthy, a thick film of dust and grim coating the book’s cover. She brushed her hand a crossed it, removing anything of the dark grey soot that sprinkled the book’s hard casing. The Curse of Aynora; the wide, broad, gold letters read, scribbled across the book’s front.

The words seemed emphasized against the coal black color of the book’s outer-shell, as if trying to tell her something. Warn her about something. Curiosity, as well as inklings of fear, raged throughout her petite frame. Annabeth had always been naturally curious. What did Aynora mean? Was it a person, a legend, a myth? Did it mean something? Was it a warning? Was the book really cursed, or was it about a curse? What could this book possibly be about? She opened up the heavy flap of the book’s covering, flipping through the first couple pages until she came to the first chapter.

Annabeth didn’t even complete the first page, because the book was no longer in her hand. Surprised, she looked up to face the person who dared to take the book from her when a sharp voice sounded in her ear, “What are you doing, you frivolous little girl!”

Annabeth blinked, instinctively shrinking away from the wrathful old being that stood before her. The book was clamped firmly between his hoary fingers. She was instantaneously enthralled by his eyes. They were a brilliant green, vibrant and fresh as a spring’s day. In them were endless amounts of wisdom, character, and discreetness, all floating around in glowing pools, waiting to be shared with the world.

“Hey!” Annabeth protested, finally finding her voice. “I was reading that!”

“You hebetudinous child! Do not read this! You will be cursed!” He spat at her, throwing the book down on the floor, a cloud of dust flying up from the carpet, engulfing them in a murky grey overcast of scum.

“Cursed? There is no such thing,” She objected, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Preposterous!” The man cried, his voice shooting up an octave. “You foolish brat, you have no such proof! This —” He leaned down to pick up the book, thrusting it in her face. “— will execrably send you into the fiery pits of Hades!”

“That’s stupid,” Annabeth muttered.

“Stupid!” The senior howled, his face reddening with anger. “You are more cretin than you look! Here,” He pushed the book into her hands with more force than should be possibly sound for a male his age. “Just take it, you don’t even have to pay for it or check it out! I don’t want it! Just remember, I warned you.”

The furious creature stalked over to his desk, sitting down in the rotten wooden chair and putting his face in his hands. He looked disturbed, and very angry. Annabeth picked up the book and as she tenderly brushed it off, straightening out any pages that may or may not have been ripped, crinkled, or creased. She glanced over at the man with anxious eyes; she had always been a caring person. What had she done to upset him?

She shrugged it off, tucking the book safely in the crook of her left arm. As she exited the library, she could have sworn she heard the man whisper aloud: “Annabeth, oh Annabeth, what am I going to do with you?”

Annabeth’s thoughts went back to the first time she had seen his eyes, and she pondered on the endless possibilities that she knew this man. His eyes had been so familiar, too familiar, actually, but the only thing wrong was that she couldn’t pinpoint the exactly where she had seen them before.

She finally reached her house, a small cottage placed snugly at the top of Netter’s Point. It was square, slapped sloppily on a concert slab, leaning unsteadily towards Kingsford Bay. The siding was a pasty pink, matching the color of the early morning sky as it crept up on the darkness of night, slowly but surely eliminating it until it returned as the moon did once more. The windows were long and rectangular, giving the house an eighteenth century air. The door was rather small, curved into a flawless semi-circle at the top, a golden knocker and knob each set in their proper places.

She climbed the warped steps that led to the front door, and, as she pushed it open, the book casted a low humming noise — almost a growl.

“Ah!” She gasped, the book descending towards the floor in a jumbled lump, crashing on the floor with a muted thud.

The buzzing noise stopped, and everything else seemed that way, too. The clock appeared to have never ticked, the trees to never sway, the crickets to never chirp, the wind to never blow. Annabeth shakily reached out to grab the book, fondling it with her fingers hesitantly before nestling it under her armpit.

Upstairs, she flipped the light switch, the luminous amber cinder of the bulb stretching out and filling the darkness with its radiant halo of light.

The walls of her room were some shade of violet, pictures of family and friends tacked to the barriers; the highlights of Annabeth’s once happy life. The furniture was made out of a rich, deep mahogany, standing up proudly, as if to say “Look at me!” In the closet, which she had always left open, was a vast, elongated mirror, surrounding it was a large amount of frumpy sweaters, baggy t-shirts, and plain jeans, all swallowed up in the small space. An enormous window sat parallel to her bed, looking out a lush, beautiful valley where the rocks gleamed, the birds sang, and the streams rippled and flowed to a lovely, melodic tune.

Annabeth changed into her night clothes, then — after tying her long, scarlet tresses up into a rather untidy bun — crawled into the large, fluffy bed, leaning back to rest on one of the downy pillows. Looking at the book now, in the comfort she was in, Annabeth reasoned she must have been imagining the fierce growling that the book made. A book growling? What a silly notion.

She cracked open the book, the spine making a crackling sound as she began to read about the legend of Aynora. Annabeth read for hours. She found out many things about the myth of Aynora. Aynora was a beautiful woman, more beautiful than any other women known before. She was in love with a rich, handsome prince by the name of Paul, but he already had a love named Katrina.

Aynora was jealous, and she had revised a plan to get rid of Katrina so the prince would love her, but inside herself she ended up killing herself, knowing that the prince would love Katrina more than he would ever love her. She bound herself by the wrists and ankles, poisoning herself with the very plants in which she did so. Before she had died, she had cried out in the stillness of the night, a curse, that to all must suffer as she did. She was never to be seen again, her body never found.

Finally, Annabeth grew tired and weary. Her barley had enough energy and strength to lay the book beside her as she closed her lethargic eyes and submitted into the ebony waves of unconsciousness. She was awakened by the sensuality of light caresses against her legs and arms. She opened her eyes and gave a giggle, which turned into the most horrified gasp. Her eyes widening in fear as she saw the massive amounts of plants spurting out of the middle of the book.

Colorful, vivid plants clung to the walls, all various shades of the rainbow — jade green, ocean blue, lilac — all climbing and creeping up the deep lavender walls of her room, growing and expanding with each passing second until it would swallow the room whole and became a mountainous sea of plants. Annabeth struggled to get out of the bed, but the damage was already done. The plants had tangled themselves around her, making shackle-like cuffs around her ankles and wrists. The plants wound around the furniture, walls, the book, and out the window, engulfing everything and anything in their path of destruction and fire.

He had tried to warn her about the book. Now it was too late. Annabeth was going to be drowned by the curse of Aynora; there was no reversing it now.

“Annabeth,” she heard someone say softly from a distance far away, a pair of glowing green eyes blinking from the hills that roamed the valley below. “Oh Annabeth, what am I going to do with you?”

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Jeff Degginger

Senior Member
I think this story has something, but I really think it gets a little heavy with description. You have LOTS of description, some of it is written very well, some of it isn't. Mostly what I see is that you use lots of "double description" (yay for made up names on the spot) where you use two words to describe one thing. Example: The Lush, Green Valley or the Deep, Aqua Sea. Most of these spots would do better with just one of the words you used for description.

Cutting down on the description might take more though, some of the paragraphs of description could be cut down and combined to increase the pace of the story, which was getting to me quite a bit. I think its actually pretty good, though I haven't seen the picture (mmm... is this a paiting or a movie) that you reference, so I don't know how much you are basing this off of that, but definitely cut down on the description and either make more things happen or make the story shorter in general.


Senior Member
Hi quorra,
I have to agree with Jeff about your use (or overuse) of adjectives and descriptions, but the picture you paint is very beautiful. I looked at the picture that you are writing from and it's very impressive that you developed this story based on that one image. There is definitely a lot of great stuff in the story and the plot is delicate but could certainly be bolstered. Why Annabeth? Is it simply that she picked the book? How does Mr. Linden know it's going to be a problem for her, or her name for that matter? Is there any way of weaving Aynora's story into Annabeth's? For instance, is Annabeth a jealous lover, or is there a man she can't have? How does her story intersect with Aynora's? Try and work your description into the plot, give us some more action. Tell us more about Annabeth - like why does she love books, why does she live in a rickety old house alone, why is she wandering the streets to run into this shady shop...
Good story and I'd like to have a little more!!

Olly Buckle

"Colorful, vivid plants clung to the walls, all various shades of the rainbow — jade green, ocean blue, lilac — all climbing and creeping up the deep lavender walls of her room,"

They are right, take this as an example, you need to consider the elements you are putting in

Wall clinging plants
Varied colours, shades of blue and green
The background blue of the wall

Then you can play at structuring Them together to get the smoothest flow, eg.
The lavender walls made a background to the plants that spread and clung across them. Jade, ocean, lilac, every shade of living plant was there in vivid color
That is walls background, plants, creeping, shades of vivid color. 4 items

Colorful, vivid plants clung to the walls, all various shades of the rainbow — jade green, ocean blue, lilac — all climbing and creeping up the deep lavender walls of her room,
This is color vivid, plants, clinging, walls, shades of colour, climbing and creeping, wall colour. 6 items

Looking back I do hope that is helpful, I am trying to describe how I sort out comlicated sentences.

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