You Were: The Archivist

July 26, 2010

There’s a women’s university in Geneva that once possessed an unusual—and invaluable—archive. Hidden in a carefully-guarded room located somewhere in the university’s library was a collection of little-known texts. Books, ancient scrolls, letters, unpublished memoirs, and top-secret telegrams. Together they offered a version of history that’s much different than the one most of us are force-fed in school.

Those who were fortunate enough to peruse the archive knew that Alexander the Great was really Alexandra the Great. Shakespeare was the pen name of an actress named Molly McMartin. The first person to fly a plane wasn’t Orville or Wilber Wright. It was their half-sister Gertrude.

The archive in question proved, beyond all doubt, that our civilization was built by women. You were the person who brought all the texts together. And you were the person who died trying to protect them.

Your parents had both been librarians at illustrious European universities, and both had eventually quit in disgust. You and your sisters grew up in a tiny alpine village far from your parents’ hometowns. You were over-educated and horribly poor. And when you were twelve years old, your parents told you a story that would change your life forever.

Sometime between the World Wars, libraries all over the world were visited by men in unidentifiable uniforms. They came in and closed the doors behind them. For weeks, the libraries remained shut while “renovations” took place. When the doors opened once more, things inside had changed. Mostly first names and pronouns, as it turned out. Alexandra had become Alexander. Gertrude and Molly had disappeared altogether.

There were plenty of people like your parents who fought the revisions. By 1945, almost all were in hiding. It had taken two decades for history to be rewritten, but once it was, the whole world believed what it read.

There were still books out there, your parents told you, that hadn’t been revised. Books buried in library courtyards, books in waterproof boxes at the bottom of bogs, books tucked under mattresses the men in uniforms wouldn’t have wanted to touch.

You thought your parents might have gone mad until you found your first batch of unexpurgated books inside an outhouse on the slopes of the Matterhorn. From that day forward, you dedicated your life to hunting down the truth—what little was left of it.

You traveled the globe with nothing in your suitcase but two tweed suits and a dagger disguised as a fountain pen. When you located a text, you had it shipped to the university in Geneva, where kindred spirits filed it away in a safe and humidity-controlled environment.

You hoped to one day make your discoveries known to the public. And in 1965, you met a man who could make that happen. He was the dashing, debonair editor of an American newspaper. You whispered your secrets to him one night after a bottle of champagne and a roll in the sheets. When the men in uniforms arrived the next morning, you were too heartbroken to fight them.

But love hadn’t made you as reckless as many had hoped. They had captured the archivist, but the location of the banned books remained unknown. You’d told the editor they were in Genoa, not Geneva, and they ransacked most of Italy before they knew they’d been had.

Your fate wasn’t pleasant, and I won’t provide any details. The texts you collected were moved to a more secure location somewhere in Canada. Or Cambodia. Or Cameroon. I can’t say where, but I have a hunch that one day soon they’ll be read by the rest of the world.


4 Responses to “You Were: The Archivist”

  1. Lori Says:

    That’s me!! 😀 What an awesome story. Too bad I don’t remember a thing 😉 Thanks for doing this. It so much fun reading all the different ones!
    I finished The Eternal Ones today and Loved it!


  2. Kartoffel Says:

    Whoa, I really liked this one! The one I liked most (up to now). When I’m grown up I’m gonna find these books 😀
    How comes my computer says The Eternal Ones isn’t availabel until August 10th but lori already read it?

    • Toodles*** Says:

      I really liked this post too. But who says you have to wait until you’re grown up to find the books? (Mischievious grin.)
      And Lori probably got an early and not quite finished version of the book from somewhere. The completely finished book will be available August 10th, like you said.

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