Previously on Emma Undone – Climbing Out

The library was dark and drab. Light never found it’s way into the room infused with the smell of old paper candlewax and Pledge. It was the one untouched room in Aunt Polly’s mansion. Her long deceased grandfather, Emma’s great-grandfather, read and built haunted memories there. The candlesticks bore remnants of the bygone years where the age of electricity was staunchly denied. Trailing down the side of each sconce was forgotten waxen lava flows.

The memories that haunted the room were warm and familiar to Polly where she would retreat into the silence and commiserate with her ghosts. The familiar feel of her hand running along the rows of leather bound volumes brought comfort. She loved to curl into the worn brocade wing chair colored in deep hues of scarlet and gold and remember.

Polly cherished her grandfather’s library where he found solace. Emma found the room depressing and claustrophobic. It made her shudder and wonder what prowled in the gloomy nooks and corners colored in shades of black and gray. She longed to snatch down the heavy waves of scarlet and introduce the room to the bright yellow sun and the brilliant blue New Orleans sky. A big bucket of white enamel applied to shelves would kindle hope and chase away the past.

She wondered why she disliked the room since she was so dreary and forlorn herself. It personified the way she dressed and behaved. She always felt hypocritical hating the space Polly deeply loved and revered.


Emma Undone has been neglected for a long time and this prompt from Write On Edge gave me the perfect chance to come back to the story. Their prompt was given to us like this:

Your flash fiction or creative non-fiction piece this week should include the words “candlestick”, “scarlet”, and “library”. The words can be in any context you wish, and you have 250 words (247 of which you can choose yourself).

Holding the Key

The newspaper blows down the street, elusive and forgotten. Skittering along crinkly and scraping the sidewalk when a fresh puff lifts it toward the pedestrians where it jolts a few  and lands open at the feet of one girl. She bends over to pick it up and sees a name in the Obituary Section she has known since she was a child.

Ania Boudreaux.

Mrs. B, the librarian was the holder of mystical and fabulous information about every book in the Youth section. She had the right questions and always knew exactly the right book. The obituary was a sucker punch, shocking the breath away, eyes widened and mouth open as her life with Mrs. Boudreaux flashed before her in vivid detail.

Story time when she was young with tales painted in words, vivid and  exciting.

Hunched in a long row of books whispering and giggling while sharing  thoughts about this or that book.

Hanging on Mrs. B’s elbow peeking on tip toes she flips through the cards in the card catalog explaining the Dewey Decimal System. Then triumphantly whisper cheering and high fiving when she’s found the perfect book for the school project.

The tears bite the corners of her eyes and her face crushes into grief and pain knowing her BBFF (best book friend forever) was gone. Her time with Mrs. B had grown, changing since she moved out of Youth and into the Adult section of the library. She made detours into the children’s section seeking out Mrs. Boudreaux’s input and valued suggestions, but the trips became fewer and fewer. It had been months, perhaps a year since the last visit.

Fifty six is too young. Reading the obituary she found breast cancer was the hoodlum that stole her. The obituary included brief details of Ania (Zielinski) Boudreaux life and her journey to death. It differed because it included a poem penned by Ania, Mrs. B herself as her epitaph.

We’ve traveled the road
     you and me.
We’ve seen the plain
     and we’ve seen the strange.
Now I hold a shiny key.
A key for me and only me.
The lock it turns
     opens a door
     where a different new
     adventure awaits.
The road is for another life
     that has no beginning
     and no end.
You’ll have to wait,
     another time, another day,
     for the road you’re on
     continues still.
The time will come
     when you have a key
     and I’ll be there
     to wave and greet.
Then we’ll begin a journey,
     bright and fresh and new
          on the road that has
               no beginning
                    and no end.

Dropping the paper back on the ground it renews it’s skitter and floating  journey. Emma pulls the hood over her head as the granite in her throat breaks free and the whitewater crash of emotions flow and she stumbles along, resuming her journey to the library knowing there is a hole in her world that won’t be filled until she finds her key.


This post was written from a prompt from Write on Edge’s Red Writing Hood. It went like this:

“For this week, write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece in which an epitaph features prominently. 

This can be a short as the epitaph itself, or the epitaph can be part of a longer story. As our New Year’s gift to you, this will have a hefty word limit: 500 words or less.

And one more thing? Since this is a new year, we want you to attempt brand new characters. We love your ongoing stories, but we are curious about what else is in those fabulous imaginations of yours.”

I give you a new character, Ania Boudreaux.