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Creative Writing - Fiction

Jean Eveleigh
Jean Eveleigh Scope Member Posts: 186 Pioneering
I wrote this for a competition but didn't place :-(  Hey ho; what do you all think of it (please be nice it is my first attempt at writing since leaving school 20ish years ago)

The Bookbinder and The Thief.

There is a legend in my family, a great treasure hidden by my grandfather. A great family a yarn that is always whispered about in hidden corners every time we get together, birthdays, weddings, funerals – his especially – when the adults would huddle around talking about this great fortune he was supposed to have stolen.

The story goes he stole $100,000 from a bank at the turn of the last century. He was never arrested as no-one could find the money and without the money, there was no proof he took it. You see the bank was never "robbed" in the traditional sense; he worked there and it was said that whenever anyone made a large deposit he would log it properly, but a few of the larger bills would slip into his pocket on their way down to the vault.

Over the years they say he stole millions, although the bank claims nothing was ever missing. There were rumours that they were associated with some shady clientele, so missing money would not be good business for them; as such they have a $20,000 reward no questions asked if $100,000 printed between 1900 and 1945 with specific serial numbers on are returned to them.

My grandfather – known to me always as Gramps – had a great number of books in every room of his house; whenever anyone asked he always said, "Knowledge is money, money is knowledge." He championed my education by instilling this in me; "Never specialise," he would say, "a little of everything means you are always useful."

It's funny – he was never a banker to me; he could bind books, mend clocks and watches and fix the plumbing along with a multitude of other hands-on crafts and trades. He had left the bank years before I was born but he always worked or tinkered, and he always had this one special book he would let me look at from time to time.

It was unordinary for him to hold such awe to it. It had plain black binding with plain cream pages inside, nothing written on it, the typical little black book. When asked why it was so special to him, he would hold it and with a twinkle in his eye and say: "It's the first book I ever bound right!" and that was that, but every so often he would wink at me and say it was my inheritance.

When he died, his will left me his home and all its contents in trust as he knew my parents well enough to know they would sell otherwise, the black notebook and a letter: -

My dearest,
If I have schooled you well, you will remember the tales of the bank I "robbed", you will remember the hours we spent binding books and repairing old manuscripts, you will remember the words I would say and the love I ascribed to certain objects.
Follow your memories and your heart and you will find the means to claim your inheritance.
All my love

My parents instantly went to his home asking me question after question about which books and objects were his favourites.

Then, even though he wasn’t a trustee, my father got an antique dealer in to value each one. My parents must have been thinking he had spent whatever money he had stolen on objects of value – "Speculate to accumulate," my father kept repeating, pulling item after item down for the valuer: books, ornaments, plumbing tools, clocks "a little of everything as father would say," he kept repeating.

The valuer nodded along and looked over not just what father pulled down, but everything else lying around, and at the end he looked earnestly at my father.

"A very eclectic mix," he said. “$15,000.”

"What?" shouted my father "My father was worth £100,000 at least.”

"Maybe so," said the valuer. "You can get more quotes if you like but these items are worth no more than $15 thousand."

Eight more valuers arrived over the next month from various establishments my parents found in the phone book. None of them seemed to care about the trust and my parents not being allowed to sell anything.
Then my father then tried to get estate agents to value the property, but none of them would come as he wasn't a named trustee and couldn't sell, so they would not waste their time.

I sat quietly biding my time till my parents went off on their next money-making scheme; I was almost 18 and often left alone after Gramps had passed. My parents were always off chasing the quickest, easiest dollar, not like Gramps. That's why I had spent so much time with Gramps when I was younger.

"Leave her with me," he would say. "Don't pull her from school and disrupt her education, no need. I'll look after her."

It ended up with me living with Gramps full time and my parents dropping in to visit every now and then.

Sometime after the funeral, when my parents had forgotten any potential money they could get their hands on, I started night school. There I learned how to bind books, and one day when I was sure I knew what I was doing I sat down at the desk in Gramps study. I took that plain black book and reversed what I had been taught. I unbound the cover, peeled open those plain cream pages, and page after page, a crisp $10,000 and $100,000 dropped out.

I pulled out the middle drawer on the left side of the desk and found the catch to the hidden compartment he had shown me many years before. Inside there was a page with a list of serial numbers. I carefully removed those specific notes from the pile on the desk, wrapped some string around them to bind the neatly and called the police and the bank. The rest I hid in the other compartment.

The bank gave me the $20,000 reward. I had included it in my trust so my parents couldn't take it when they came back, which they did as soon as they read about it in the papers. I gave them the rest of the notes - $30,000. Only Gramps, the bank, the police, and I knew they were fake, until my parents were arrested for trying to spend them.

Gramps kept his promise to me all those years ago when he said, "Knowledge is money – if you learn you will always be well cared for."
I am hardly ever out of work but, if I am, I know exactly which books to pull from the shelves to tide me over and how to repair them once I have extracted the notes from within so no-one would know.


  • leeCal
    leeCal Community member Posts: 7,550 Disability Gamechanger
    edited August 2021
    Interesting story but is it ...fiction?! 

    “This is my simple religion. No need for temples. No need for complicated philosophy. Your own mind, your own heart is the temple. Your philosophy is simple kindness.” 
    ― Dalai Lama XIV

  • Sandy_123
    Sandy_123 Scope Member Posts: 55,853 Disability Gamechanger
    Its a good story plot but needs to draw the reader in, make them want to know why, what, where, who.
     start with mystery and build up to the end, also about 15000 word count. Could Of started something like this....

    It felt odd being here, all of us, surrounded by memories of the past, in this old house. Nothing had changed, still the same old furniture that I had grown up around. 

    So now the reader wants to know why you there? What house? Why has nothing changed and who are you all etc.

  • Ami2301
    Ami2301 Community member Posts: 7,935 Disability Gamechanger
    I'm not often caught by the first paragraph but I wanted to know more after reading the first paragraph! I really enjoyed it :)
    Disability Gamechanger - 2019
  • getthrough
    getthrough Community member Posts: 13 Listener
    Hi Jean I liked your short story and just want to say that it doesn't matter what the competition judges think..they're very subjective. Very! You might send the exact same story somewhere else and it WOULD be appreciated. Maybe look up some magazines which accept submissions and send them a few pieces of your work. By the way, do you have other hobbies where you use your talents..? 
  • Grinchy
    Grinchy Community member Posts: 1,932 Disability Gamechanger
    very cool story, i enjoyed it, i hope you keep at it as its a talent that will continue to grow as you develop more stories
    thanks for sharing and good luck
  • Jean Eveleigh
    Jean Eveleigh Scope Member Posts: 186 Pioneering
    Thank you for the kind words and helpful critiques everyone.

    I am not "creative" at all, I tend to be more analytical doing crosswords and puzzler type games - I have no idea where this story came from I woke up and it was the only dream I have ever remembered long enough to be able to get onto paper, then I saw a competition and had to rework it slightly to fit into the parameters of the competition.

    This was at the beginning of the spring and nothing has popped into my mind since so as to if there will ever be another story time will tell - I left school in 1996 and as I said in my opening post this was my first piece of creative fiction writing since then.
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