Ghosts in the Wood Grain

The old man’s carrel was carved with the finest mahogany, over the years it became varnished with Lagavulin whisky and sweat. In that tiny space, he crafted vast worlds; kings & betrayers, love & death, wonder and curiosity. Its nooks held the echoes of various late-night existential crises, angry triades of self-doubt, and the stale smell of cheaply-made cigars.

Oh, but what a wonderful companion it was for the man. It beared the weight of his failures and success. Every tear-stained rejection letter, crumpled up piece of hate mail, and letters from readers whose joy lept from the pages. In this evermoving cycle they found peace: rhythmic taps of pen against wood. The scratchings of an imagination imprinted upon paper. They aged together. Their bodies contorting into new, and sometimes uncomfortable ways, as time took its toll.

The desk knew all of the man’s secrets. And so it was the first to hear about the man’s illness. Fewer papers crossed the surface of the desk, and those that did usually ended up in the form of cards: get-wells, doctors, lawyers, and condolences.

Silence.

A single piece of A4 pristine white paper; covered in scribbles, notes, and anecdotes summarising a long, storied life. Of everything that desk had seen and felt; this was the heaviest. The punctuated period of a vast chapter in its life closed. It slumbered. For how long it wasn’t quite sure, then—an unfamiliar voice:

“How much for the desk?” A young man asked.