Wednesday, July 10, 2013

When Bookstores Lost Their Souls

Once Upon a Time, possibly in a land far far away for some of you, there lived a girl. Or maybe not a girl. She was at that odd age of 18 where nothing makes any sense and everyone is a conglomerate of everything. Especially her. So this person inhabiting Earth... She loved to read. It was the one thing she never truly tired of. Reading was the only thing she could be addicted to. Her money was squandered on books. She invested much too much time into it, ignoring family, friends, and a dedicated (and soon well-trained) boyfriend-person. Once she possessed a license (issued to her, of course), she would drive herself over to a bookstore after a particularly hard week/day/hour and be able to breathe for a change. Never did she tire of wandering through aisle upon aisle of books.

Then one day, the impossible happened.

Down an aisle she went, her eyes merely skipping from title to title. What used to be a journey of an hour was over in minutes. On to the next aisle she went, each shelf brimming with unread, possible untouched paper and beautiful covers. Again, her feet found their way out of the shelves much too quickly. Frustrated, she hurried over to the other end of the store. Perhaps there lay titles and books and stories to calm the growing sense of dread in her stomach.

Her unease grew and grew as she traversed aisle after aisle, section after section, until she stood in center of the store, feeling like a belly button. Useless and unloved. Once she had had a purpose, but no more. Maybe she was more of an appendix than a belly button. Defeated and feeling hopelessly dejected, the person inhabiting Earth fled the building to hide from the emptiness in her car.

How, how had this happened? Where did all the books of interest go? She didn't want vampires. She didn't want sex and passion. She didn't want to merely dip her toes into a story. She wanted to be immersed in one; up to her head in the words and characters and worlds until nothing could take her away from the space between the letters. Why did that space disappear?

But it had. She felt it. As she roamed the aisle, she could feel the lack of soul in the books surrounding her.

The fantasy had dwindled in size. Those, the heart and soul of so many magic seekers, had kept her alive during middle school. She needed them now as everyone told her grown-ups don't believe in fairy tales. But those were gone. As were the books about friendship. Stories she could grasp in her fingers and watch bloom like morning glories. Even Tolkien's section was small. A collection of his trilogy. No Children of Hurin, no Silmarillion. Just space mourning it's true purpose. Lewis was completely absent from the shelves.

There was nothing left for her in bookstores anymore. Nothing to capture her desires and whisk her away from this reality of hers.

This person inhabiting Earth felt as if someone had reached a clawed hand into her chest and ripped her heart out. What would life be without this sacred place of hers?

She wanted to give up. To curl up in a ball and cry over pages of Narnia, wishing even more vehemently than before, for some of that wonderful tree to have been used in the making of her closet. To stare desolately at the night sky and beg any entity who would listen to change this tragedy.

But she didn't lose hope. Surely, there were other girls like her out there. Boys, too. Both young and young at heart. She couldn't be the only one in this world with a desire for more than the potato chips being offered by authors. Someone else had to be wondering what happened to creating five-course meals with depth and richness.

So she drove home, her chin raised in defiance and her eyes set. Once home she knelt before her bookshelf, tugged a notebook from where it was nestled, and opened it. The blank pages became her hope. Between the lines of faded blue a story could be written, one about friendship and loyalty and the questions everyone must face at some point. Or maybe even one just for laughs, with real people who don't just fall in love but are pure human.

And so, she began to pour her soul onto paper hoping one day to bring bookstores back their souls.

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