It’s four simple words emblazoned on the cover of an old hardback: “Take Me With You”. Four simple words heralding the start of one out of an entire book’s worth of poems. So why do I feel so cold and sweaty as I leaf through the pages?
I’m sure it isn’t the book itself. Sure, it’s old and tattered, but what can you really expect from something published in 1874? It isn’t the feel of the book either; the leather feels a little dry, but again, the book is old, probably not too well maintained before it landed itself here. The content maybe? It seems so progressive, like something you’d find from an artsy college freshman with a chip on their shoulder. The titular poem is the worst offender:
Take me with you.
Take Me to all the places you go.
Absolutely terrible–something my high school English teacher would have found one hundred different meanings for just based on the capitalization alone, when really it didn’t say anything, it was just the kind of thing someone writes for the sole purpose of sparking debate among poetry fanatics.
…But then why am I so drawn to this particular poem? The rest of the book is just a collection of works from people I’ve never heard of–poems of a greater caliber than this, but in a similar, more modern style. They’re fascinating, yet I always find myself flipping back to this tiny, crappy thing. There isn’t even an author listed.
One of the librarians makes me jump out of my skin by tapping me lightly on the shoulder. She asks if I’m okay; I apparently had spaced out staring at that single page for almost twenty minutes. I don’t know why I immediately assure her I’m fine and walk to the front desk with the book in hand. I start to feel sick. It’s so cold.
The clerk doesn’t even have a record of the book in their system. I pay her $20 for it–it’s the only bill I have on me–and I’m not even sure why. It’s a mystery now; I need to know what’s so damn important about this book! I even manage to forget all about dinner. I tried a few different times to go heat up some leftovers in the dorm microwave, but I swear each time I heard a female voice whisper, “Take me with you…” This time, I did take it with me and face no further incident. My appetite has disappeared though. What the fuck were those creepy whispers? The book? Books don’t whisper to people! That’s just not a thing that happens!
Maybe I’m stupid, but I took that thing with me no matter where I went. Class, the student union, friends’ dorms, parties…everywhere. I didn’t hear any whispers for a while, but just when I would start forgetting about it, I would hear, just at the very edge of my hearing, “Take me with you…” One time I ignored that. I was late to class, I couldn’t spare a single second of time. The next time I tried to leave without the book, my door slammed shut in my face and I heard that whisper–louder this time. More angry, almost like a hiss. “TAKE ME WITH YOU…”.
I’m never forgetting this thing again. It’s just easier to keep it on me and get questions about it than it is to, uh…I guess anger it? Whatever. It’s not even that heavy…though I haven’t been able to shake this cold, sweaty feeling since I picked it up. It’s been a few months now. About two months ago, despite having the book with me, I heard a familiar voice while I was brushing my teeth: “Take…”. That was it. Just one word. I heard it again a month later–again, in the bathroom, just washing my hands and all of a sudden a creepy voice whispering, “Take…”.
Three weeks ago, I heard it again. “Take…”. Strangely enough, I hadn’t felt the urge to look at the poem in a while, so out of curiosity I flipped to the page. I nearly dropped my toothbrush. The entire book was filled with the word “TAKE” over and over again in capital letters. All except for the last page:
I had run back to my room and thrown the book into a safe my parents made me get for my valuables. That was three weeks ago. Today, the book sat on my bed when I returned from my morning classes. I felt uneasy all day. Still, as I approach my room, I go through the motions. I take it with me to heat up dinner. I take it with me to study. And I take it with me into the bathroom. Everything is about as normal as it can be with this creepy book around. Maybe it was just sleep deprivation getting to me. I probably forgot about taking it out of the safe, and the inside of the book is back to normal.
In the early morning, I stumble my way back to the bathroom, half asleep, book in tow. How I always manage to remember it when I’m barely conscious is anyone’s guess. I always set it on the sink while I take care of business; it never seems upset about that. I gaze wearily into the mirror as I wash my hands, ((“take…”)) taking a half-asleep inventory of my appearance. Black hair messy, eyes bloodshot, skin pale…
…That’s not my face.
Those aren’t my hands reaching towards me. It’s not my face smiling at the mirror. My hair isn’t black. The book is still here with me. Someone else is in front of the sink now. I can’t reach– no, come back! STOP!
It’s so cold…
Take me with you…
/r/WritingPrompts, ‘Take Me With You.“