“I’d like a new book.” The woman glanced around nervously. “Can you help me?”
The clerk pushed her glasses up on her nose. She put on her I’m helping the clueless and need to remember to be patient smile. “Of course. You’ve come to the right place. As you can see, we have plenty of books. Did you have something specific in mind? Fiction or non-fiction?”
Mrs. Watson’s Book Emporium attracted all kinds. Oh, there were regular customers, known on a first-name basis. They already knew what this was all about. Then there were the newbies, those brought in by word of mouth, a friend of a friend sort of thing.
“Well not like that,” said the woman. She clutched her purse with both hands. “I was told this place sold, um, special books.”
“A gift book? For someone else, or for yourself?” The clerk knew exactly what the woman was asking about. Not just a book, but a Book. Still, it was kind of fun to drag things out a bit, watch the customer squirm. The smiled became more genuine and less genuine at the same time.
“Um. It’s for me. You know, something I can take home, curl up with, fall into. Something dreamy. I prefer something tall.”
“A tall book?” These were the moments the clerk loved her job. “A dreamy tall book?”
“Oh, maybe this isn’t the right place after all. A friend of mine said she bought a book here, brought it home, and it changed her life.” Was that a tear forming in her eye? Wonderful!
“A book that changed your friend’s life. Must be a very special book.” The clerk fidgeted under the counter to give the impression she was looking for something. “There is this one around here someplace. Let me see. Where did it get off to? Follow me, please.”
The clerk wound her way through the racks and shelves of books, tall books, hard-bound books, paperbacks. She even walked passed the same shelf twice.
“Oh, here it is. A tall dreamy book.” The clerk pulled a slender volume from an unmarked shelf in an unmarked section of the store. “Take a look at this one. You’ll have to judge it by the cover though. You can’t open it until you get it home. They imprint on their initial environment, so you have to choose your location very carefully when Reading a Book like this.”
The woman’s hands shook as she reached out to hold the book.
“I should warn you,” continued the clerk before handing over the dreamy tall Book. “Once you open it, you won’t be able to close it. Whatever happens, it’s all yours. There are no returns on a Book like this.”