Where did it all begin?

With his mother? It was the obvious place to start. All those hours spent around the fireplace; the stories she loved to tell; he thrived on her every word. Then there were the regular trips to the town library. He couldn't remember much about how it looked nor the people who worked there: but those books... Little Piccolo, Emil and the Detectives, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. And many many more.

Then there were the teachers. Some only lived on in his memory because of the books they represented: David Copperfield, Call of the Wild, Tom Sawyer. He'd sworn he'd marry Tom Sawyer one day, so pretty she was. Pity she was over twice his eleven years. He wondered if she'd have waited for him to catch up.

Others came and went, but the one who stood out the most was Mr. Carless. The other students mocked him cruelly over his unfortunate name and the oversized bifocals that were his trademark. But two things made him a hero to Mark. He'd introduced the class to Shakespeare, for Mark the beginning of a discovery that still hadn't ended. Then, recognising Mark's enthusiasm he'd made him a librarian, although he was still only in the fifth form.

Other faces came and went. Friends, colleagues, fellow writers: dozens of people who had helped him in oh so many ways.

But the quirkiest turn of irony came from the fact that the one person he hated the most was the one who had done most to push Mark towards writing. Marshall had been a trusted colleague. Three years they had worked together closely. Then the new boss came. Marshall saw his chance. He elbowed his way into the boss's confidence, her bed, and into Mark's office. Any attempt to discuss things with him proved fruitless. He soon found himself marginalised by most of his former staff who knew on which side the bread was currently buttered. Those who didn't play along offered their sympathy. That was worse.

Within the space of just ten months Mark found himself in a basement office, next to the refuse storage, with a rickety desk, an empty filing cabinet and nothing to do. Most would have resigned. That was what Marshall wanted. That way the company wouldn't be liable for severance pay. Instead, he wrote. He'd always wanted to write and had made several attempts at getting his ideas down on paper. It was down in the basement refuge that Mark found the courage and the inspiration he needed. Within six months his novel was finished. Weeks later, an agent offered to represent him. And now, just two years after that fateful arrival he was putting the finishing touches to his manuscript.

Mark had always been one to give everyone his due. Had it not been for Marshall the book would never have seen the light of day. He picked up his pen and wrote the final words he required.

To Marshall
With coldest thanks


For those of you wondering, I did actually come across these words in a dedication recently, so I fell to asking myself how they may have come about.

25 November 2009 at 12:06  

What a great tale you spun regarding the back story to that dedication.

The only point that caught me up was the feminisation of Tom Sawyer.

I didn't get that, and it pulled me out of your story. Fortunately, for me, I dove back in.

25 November 2009 at 12:51  

The actual reference was not to Tom Sawyer but to the teacher who had introduced him to Tom Sawyer. Obviously that wasn't as clear as it should have been.

25 November 2009 at 13:15  

Another great read, Paul.

26 November 2009 at 06:00  

wow, great story paul.. the library was everything to me as a child... awoke to a world outside of where i was... can sorta relate... and the best was the dedication and fortitude of perserverance...yeah!!!

30 November 2009 at 00:33  

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