The Reader

This is another FaithWriter’s piece. It didn’t place, but I really like this one. The prompt was the reader. This is what I came up with.

Best Bookstore in Town

Janie sipped her latte and gazed out the window. She scanned the street considering what to do. “The Reader,” she mumbled. “That looks interesting.” 

 She sighed and downed the last of her coffee. Slinging her purse over her shoulder, she stood to leave. A headline in the news-rack caught her eye: “Best Bookstore in Town.” Underneath was a picture of the shop across the street, The Reader. She loved a good bookstore.  

 She darted across the street, her 2 inch heels clicking along the pavement. A bell jingled with the opening door. The smell of paper and ink filled her senses, and she traveled back twenty years. She was eight years old again and curled up in the window seat of Granddad’s library reading a copy of Charlotte‘s Web. 

 Janie walked along the aisles searching for the children’s books. She could always tell a good bookstore by the quality of its children’s section. She found it near the back. Colorful bean bags dotted the floor. Picture books lined shelves, all within a child’s reach. It looked more like a library than a bookstore. A mural of children graced the wall with the words, “Cuddle up and read.” 

She could hear Granddad. “This is one fine store Miss Janie! Now let’s find you a good read.”

Janie sat on the floor fingering through various titles. “Granddad would love this place,” she thought.

She hadn’t seen Granddad in years. She didn’t know what the fight was about, only that it had something to do with money. Daddy yelled at Granddad and Granddad yelled back. “Get in the truck Janie,” Daddy ordered.

“But Daddy, I’m not done reading.”

“Don’t argue with me!” He ripped Charlotte’s Web out of her hands and flung it across the floor. 

“Leave Janie out of it,” said Granddad. “This is between us.”

“Goodbye Dad,” he said. “We’re done!”

That was the last time Janie saw Granddad. She thought of him often, but had no way of knowing where he was. Internet searches and phone directories led to dead ends. She hoped he would show up at Dad’s funeral, but he never did. She wondered if he was even alive. Pulling a tattered copy of Charlotte’s Web from the shelf, she thought, “Maybe I should buy one. I never did finish the story.” 

She walked to the counter. “May I help you?” asked the clerk.

Janie smiled. “I’d like a copy of this.”

“Great choice!” he exclaimed. “I’ll get you a new one.” 

Moments later he returned. “Is this a gift?” he asked.

“No. It’s for me. It brings back memories.”

“The old man that sold me this place had a thing for Charlotte’s Web. The children’s area was decorated with characters from the book. It was in honor of his granddaughter, but after the movie company sued a bookstore back east for copyright infringement, we decided to change it.”

“That’s too bad,” she said.

“We have the old guy’s copy of the book. Would you like to see it?”

“Sure,” she said. He reached behind the counter and pulled out a cedar box. He lifted the lid and removed the book. “This looks just like the copy my granddad had when I was a little girl.”

“Once the movie came the cover changed. It’s all about marketing you know.” 

He handed it to her. She held it tenderly, relishing each illustration. She spotted something sticking out of the book and grabbed the corner. Out came a sheet of paper.

“Did you know this was here?” she asked.

“No,” he said. He unfolded it and read, “Dearest Janie, I don’t know where you are or if I’ll see you again, but I want you to know that I think of you every day.”

“May I see that?” asked Janie. He handed her the letter and she read on.

“I’m sorry that your dad and I had a disagreement. I love him very much just as I love you, but sometimes grown-ups make a mess of things. I think I’ve done that now, and I’m sorry that it’s hurt you. If I never see you again, please know that I loved you very much. Love, Granddad.”

“I think this is Granddad,” she whispered. “What’s the owner’s name?”

 “Jeremiah Jameson. We all call him…”

 “J. J.” she interrupted.

“That’s right.”

“He’s still alive?” 

“Yes. Comes in every Thursday for story hour. That was part of our agreement when I bought this place.”

“Do you have his number?”

 “Sure do,” he said. “How about I ring him up?”

 “Please,” she said. He punched in the number and handed her the phone.

 “Hello, Granddad? It’s me, Janie.”


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