The Adventures of Cole Westwind
NYC Flash Fiction Challenge #2
"The Adventures of Cole Westwind"
By: Jenna Dickson
I write love letters to my favorite characters. Postcards, actually. I figured since I immerse myself into their world, the least I can do is share a bit about mine in return. Jack, my valiant sailor, received a photo of the ocean lighthouse and my shared love for open waves and freedom. Alain, my fearless heroine who saved the universe, received a skyline of my city and how she inspired me to help save my own little portion of the world.
But for this book? With the last turning of the page, I closed it gently with a sigh. Beautiful. I gazed around the quiet library as the familiar smell of ink-imprinted paper allowed my mind to wander freely. The adventurous Cole Westwind had stolen my heart with his mischievous charm. Capable of traveling through different dimensions, he was thrust repeatedly into circumstances outside of his control and risked failure and pain during his travels through time and place to stand up for what was true and right.
What to write in response to such a bold and passionate character? I feared I was in love with him. Finally, I settled with a simple postcard of an autumn tree at sunrise and wrote:
You inspire me to be brave and stand up for others in the hopes of making my world better. I hope to meet you one day, in this world or yours.
I tucked the postcard into the back pages of the book and returned it carefully to the shelf. It had taken far too long to write those simple, truthful lines. Most of my postcards ended up in the trash. Paul, the staff librarian, had found a few and thought them charming. Once I witnessed two mean-spirited teenage girls snickering over one, but I didn’t care. I wrote them for myself and the characters I loved.
Several days later, I was browsing titles and paused when I saw the familiar faded blue spine and flaking gold lettering of The Adventures of Cole Westwind. Second-guessing putting such honest words to paper, I flipped through the pages to find the postcard, thinking perhaps that I would keep this one secret. What came loose from the pages and fluttered to the floor was not my postcard, but a piece of yellowed parchment. Curiously, I picked up the note to study the bold lettering.
Your charming card and sincere words have touched my soul. I wish to know more of you. In your world or mine, I do agree that we must meet.
Carrying the letter to the front desk I spotted Paul and held up my discovery. “You’re writing back now?” I asked with a chuckle. Paul smiled in slight confusion as I handed him the note. “I didn’t write this,” he said in a benign voice as he turned the paper over in his hands. Reaching for the book, he frowned as he inspected the cover. “I’ve never seen this book in the library before,” he added and looked up to search my face.
“It was on the shelf right over there,” I told him earnestly and he shook his head in denial. We stared at each other in equal parts confusion. “Do you mind if I bring it home?” I finally heard myself asking as I fought the fluttering of excitement in my chest. “It’s not a library book,” Paul responded with a shrug and I tucked it under my arm as I waved good night.
I sent another postcard that night. This one was decorated with a simple scene of the local countryside. I wrote freely to Cole of my life, my passions and hopes, and what I imagined us to be like together. Could it be possible the character I had fallen in love with was actually out there somewhere? Cole did possess the ability to travel through time and space. Did fiction threaten to meet reality?
The response that fluttered out from the pages the next morning was filled with sincere interest in my words and his earnest desire for me to strive fearlessly through an uncertain world. For all the times and places I have traveled to, fear and doubt seek to take hold over love and understanding, he wrote, you must never let it. Never doubt I am real, for I am as real as the words on the page and the longing in your heart. I will come find you.
With each correspondence, we realized the depths of our shared understanding and passions. We wrote daily – sometimes no more than a simple note of encouragement, but sometimes pages upon pages of stories and dreams. It felt as if we had known one another forever, connected perhaps, by the story of his adventures. I longed to meet him and he promised we would soon, but came a day my postcard went unanswered.
My heart broke each time I searched futilely through the worn pages. Days passed and I feared he was truly gone. When I finally carried the faded blue book back to the library, I placed it lovingly back on the shelf despite the recent silence from within. Turning for one last look at the familiar gold lettering of the title, I froze in shock when I found a man standing there instead. “Aubrey,” he whispered. My eyes roved over the strange, yet familiar face waiting for me.
“I promised that one day we would meet,” he said with a gentle smile as he took two steps to close the distance between us. I stared at him in wonder. “I wish to learn and live the adventures of Aubrey Beaufort,” he whispered into my hair as he pulled me into an embrace, “If you’ll have me?” I pulled back to meet his eyes. “I would like that very much,” I told him sincerely.
Hand in hand, we walked out of the library, leaving only the books witness to the wonder of a well-written postcard.