Towns and Cities can disappear and die just like people.
Some small towns disappear because the main highway is moved and that brings on death just as surely as if you sever an artery in you arm or leg or neck.
And some small towns disappear from the world because they want to.
Just like people.
First Down Turn disappeared from road signs and then it disappeared from road maps.
At some point most of the phone lines that fed into Down Turn fell against trees and into ditches with the storms that always hit the Olympics during the Winter and Spring. When the last set of lines came down in 1979 no one from the outside world noticed because by then Down Turn had all but disappeared from the rest of the world.
You’d think that the people living in Down Turn must have planned their escape from the world, that it must have taken them years to figure out how to erase the tracks they left as they moved in and out of Down Turn when they went to work or for drives or on vacations.
Nothing that grand happened in Down Turn.
The town just faded away bit by bit- just like a photograph encased in a frame with a dusty sheet of glass hanging on a wall that takes the sun for hours at a time.
If you lived in Down Turn you wouldn’t have noticed that you were cut off from the rest of the Universe or the main highway which was less then three miles away, after awhile you couldn’t hear the trucks or cars going by when the traffic was heavy anymore.
Emalee Cupid was just like her neighbors and friends and co-workers. She was just like the people who came into the town’s library looking for ‘stories’.
She didn’t question why in over 20 years no children had been born or why no one ever changed their hairstyle or clothing style or had even bought a new car.
Emalee Cupid lived along and worked alone and now that the rest of life seemed to mirror the life she had resigned herself too all she felt was…
One day, it was probably sometime during the start of the week Emalee was fixing the spine on a Stephen King book and she wondered why no one seemed to be writing new books anymore.
The thought was a whisper but it was loud enough to make her wince and that’s when she turned the book in her hands over and saw that the title which should have read
” Salem’s Lot ” now read ” Alems Ot”
” That’s not right. ” she whispered to herself and she slid her thumb over the title thinking there MUST have been something covering the letters.
But there was nothing there- unless you counted the blank spot where the ” S ” and the ” L ” should have been.
Emalee looked around the library hoping that no one else was there to see her mistake.
How on Earth could she have not noticed that the cover of a book that she- the town librarian- had received to stock herself when it first came out had a huge problem like a type error on it’s cover?
She dreaded what she knew she had to do next.
She opened the book and as she flipped from page to page she saw that here and there the page numbers were missing, that words were misspelled and that in some places even the pen and ink pictures that were under the Chapter numbers were only partially visible.
Emalee went to the door and locked it and in a panic she went from book to book, magazine to magazine and found the same exact problem.
So just after lunch Emalee closed the Library and decided she had better talk to somebody- anybody about this awful thing she had let happen in her own library.
For years she must have been buying defective books with the towns money.
There was no hiding this- she had better talk to the person who hired her and that was the Mayor.
Down Turn’s Mayor was Mr Ferndale- the Mayor also owned the little General Store with the post office in the back and he also owned the garage and gas station just across the street.
His Offices were above the Gas Station and that’s where he was the day Emalee Cupid came in with her four defective books and two atlases with entire countries missing from the colored plates inside.
Mayor Ferndale was on the phone and he smiled as he motioned to Emalee to wait.
It didn’t seem right to Emalee to watch him so she went to the window and that’s when she saw the stop sign on the corner.
It was red- like it should be- only the words STOP were…
” What can I do for you Miss Cupid? ” the Mayor asked.
Emalee pointed out the window and found the words she need were …gone.
” Yes. They’ve been missing for a few days now, but really, I think we all know what to do at a four way corner, don’t you? Besides, it’s not like there’s a lot of traffic out there nowadays.”
Emalee walked to his desk and put the books down. ” The words. ” she whispered ” The words are missing. “
” Yes, it’s been happening all over the place. Mrs Carlyle at the Pharmacy is having quite a time adjusting but she’ll make do.”
” This isn’t right. ” she told Mayor Ferndale, you can’t just make do when words start to disappear.”
” Some of us don’t have a problem with it Miss Cupid. Some of us don’t like the clutter that’s made it’s way into our town and into our lives. And words- they’re nasty beasts. Those little monsters suck the very air out of your lungs before you have a chance to scream ” no ” and the racket they make as they tunnel their way into your brain.
It’s deafening. Deafening and messy.
Really Miss Cupid- think about it, don’t things seem much more quiet and orderly now?”
” No it isn’t.” Emalee went to his desk and snatched the books up and held them to her chest.Don’t you get it Mr. Ferndale? Those words aren’t clutter, they’re ideas, they’re dreams, they’re voices and if you take them away.”
” What. ” Mayor Fernadale asked
Emalee turned her full attention to the Mayor, she looked him straight in the eyes and when she did she saw the faintest outline of the bookshelf he was sitting in front of looking back at her.
” You take us away too.” she said to the faint outline of Mayor Ferndale.
” It’s for the best Emalee Cupid. You’ll see, it’s all for the best.”