I found it lying next to the park bench among the fallen leaves, its worn black leather cover barely visible under autumn’s orange and yellow carpet. I might not have noticed it at all if I hadn’t dropped my keys. A very nondescript book showing years of use. Unassuming except for the white words painted on the cover: If Found Do Not Open.
I glanced around me wondering if anyone had seen me pick up the book. Was it a test? Was someone watching to see if I followed directions? Maybe I was being filmed for one of those “What Would You Do?” shows. Or maybe it is just what it seems: a lost book.
I thumbed the pages and contemplated the cover.
What might be found in those pages? A diary of tantalizing bits about love affairs, petty crime, or family secrets? Or maybe just a pouring out of one’s heart: of past pains or dreams for the future? Maybe it’s a useful book of grocery lists, contact numbers, recipes, and personal reminders? Perhaps it’s filled with artist sketches? Or the musings of a poet? Or maybe it’s the book version of Pandora’s box? Opening it seems like a small thing, an innocent action, but what of the consequences?
I watched the afternoon sun dip below the trees as I walked toward home, only glancing back once to see the book where I left it on the bench. Unopened.