A Lost Manuscript, fiction by Barbara Podstawczyńska at Spillwords.com
Mark Rasmuson

A Lost Manuscript

 A Lost Manuscript

written by: Barbara Podstawczyńska


Marginalia – notes in manuscripts made by medieval scribes and copyists

In principio erat Verbum. In the beginning was the Word.
He must have written those words thousands of times already. He focused on decorating the initial letter “I” with gold ink, adding little patterns, interlace, so that God knows he appreciates him. Would God be happy knowing how vellum is made? That the cow’s hair is removed by soaking its skin in excrement? Surely he must know. It’s his creation. And thus he copies the Holy Word. With the most beautiful script known to man. He cannot escape the stinging feeling of… loneliness. He banishes this thought away, how can he be so blasphemous, and with the wooden cross looking straight at him! This is God’s work! Think of all the peasants spending their days in the field. They wouldn’t be able to read what he is writing. Or understand it for that matter. He should feel blessed to be a slave to God. And so he writes. Dipping the goose feather in black ink made from lamp soot. Beautiful o’s, ornate and straight i’s, delicately curled r’s. His stomach gurgles. He wishes he could eat the cow instead of writing on it. The hunger blurs his senses. He finds himself writing: “I’m weary and it’s cold” on the margins. The priest will be too focused on the Mass to notice it, he prays. A quick blessing said under his nose, just in case. How long has he been sitting here? His hand feels so sore. The sun is almost set. As soon as the darkness creeps in, he won’t be able to write anymore. He will instead go to the chapel and… pray. Sleep. Rise. Copy the Holy Book. Pray. Sleep. Serpent decepit me. A beautiful crimson “S,” a thick “d.” The serpent deceived me. The scribe sets his eyes upon the melting candle. Goes back to the script. How beautifully the flame shines. Do the words matter to anyone anyway? Who called them holy? The peasants collect the wheat, they collect the barley. Does God love them? Do they feel alone? How quickly does vellum burn? The candle falls down on the wooden desk, as if by accident. Beautiful hues, orange illuminations, clouds of red, just as his ink. He is finally warm. At least now, he is going to see his God. All men are sinners anyway.

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