When I was born, I dreamt only of being loved. I dreamt of all the journeys I’d share and the delicate strokes of a thousand fingers. My words would offer solace to those who savoured solitude.
But after my voyage to the bookstore, I found myself amongst the unchosen. I stood upright and tightly squeezed between my more popular neighbours. I never rubbed shoulders with the same blurbs for long.
I witnessed many palms itching for pages to turn pass me by. I didn’t know how long I’d been there; I didn’t count time. I only counted the thousands who were chosen over me.
My skin remained as white as the day I came into this world, not once ever having touched the sun.
Then one day she came. I watched her greet my rivals like so many before her and envied how her eyes lingered on the shelves everyone adored. Then her gaze found me, and she paused. She reached out a finger and caressed my spine. I was eased from that claustrophobic space and breathed for the first time.
I dared not let myself hope. I expected to be abandoned back to the shelf. I’d been ignored for so long I feared my words were too dull. But she did not return me. Just a few lines of my story had convinced her to take me away with her.
She was so excited to get to know me that I opened up to her on the bus ride home. The sun beamed through the window, and I began my story bathed in the warm afternoon light.
Once home, she took me to bed. We stayed there until dinner, and even then, she wouldn’t put me aside. She took great care not to spoil my complexion with a single crumb or smudge of sauce. Her touch was so delicate, I couldn’t even feel my spine bending.
Not even sleep could steal her away from me. I gave my final words under the glow of lamplight.
Then something hot and comforting hit my face. It was a tear. One of her tears had stained my cheek.
Now that I had no more words left, she hugged me close to her chest like a lover. She drifted off to sleep still cradling me in her arms. Her smile stroked my face like a soft kiss. And I knew she was dreaming of me.
In the morning, I was rested between new comrades. But this time I felt comforted and loved when squeezed between them. I might never know another’s hands, but I don’t think I’ll ever feel lonely again.
Every year she is drawn back to my story. My spine has since cracked, and my skin has yellowed. But every year, I make her smile again.
This short piece was written and selected for an anthology titled Browse Ldn Books, published by final year MA Publishing students.
Alas, I do not know what became of the publication. It was a long time ago that I last heard a word about it, and I appear to have lost the contact details of those involved.