anemoia (#words)

United States

WtW's resident "the cool cousin you see once a year, but the conversation you guys were having a long time ago picks up where it left off without missing a beat" (rosi)

Child of God
logophile
athletic nerd

Female
Soph.

Message to Readers

Update as of 11.7.20: I can't edit anymore right now. I've cut down at 1240 words, but it's still 240 too many. *bangs head against desk* I'm also going to look at some different sections of this story (because I have more on the google doc) and see if I might change which part I submit.

The Things Which Can Happen in a Bookstore

November 7, 2020

    He was starving. Deprived. He needed books like a heroin junkie needed a hit. 
    Never had he felt so desperate for black typeface on paper. For those written enchantments.
    His legs changed from walking to jogging without consulting him first. His footsteps thudded against leaf shadows on the sidewalk. Books for the Soul felt miles away. How was he going to get there before his paper-and-ink lifeline was stretched—stretched—and—snap
    A quarter mile from his own house, and he seriously doubted whether he would make it. It wasn’t his physical abilities that he questioned. He was lean and fit; his mental and emotional states, however, needed a swig of life-giving water. 
    Otherwise known as books. And possibly an iced almond milk latte.
    He saw the bookstore's rough-cut wooden sign dangling in the distance. Rays of July morning sun shone across the hand painted letters. 
    Tag breathed a sigh of relief. Brooks would know what he needed. Most days, he ventured into Books for the Soul with no specific title in mind, but Brooks Felmar—assistant manager, shelver, best friend, hero—always managed to find him the right book. Tag peered through the window before stepping into his second home. A cacophony of bagpipes and harmonica greeted him. Every visitor of the bookstore begged the Felmars to install bells on the door, like any other shop, to no avail. As the recording of disharmony ended, Tag glanced around for any changes to the bookstore: an empty book crate sat on the register counter, the green sofa sported new coffee stains, and a few shelves had shifted. 
    A potpourri of aromas enveloped him. Coffee. Cinnamon tea. Chocolate chip cookies. Musty pages. Lemon cleaner. Tag shook off the nostalgia and was ready to search for Brooks when he emerged from the cafe section, grinning.
    “Montag Croftrow. Where. Have. You. Been? School ended weeks ago!" exclaimed Brooks. "And I know that varsity soccer workouts don’t start until August," he added. Tag shrugged. 
    "Just busy," he offered. "And don't call me Montag. No one does."
    "Busy. Mhm. So, Tag, what's up?" Brooks wrapped an arm around Tag's shoulders and grinned down at him. His other hand snaked around and jabbed Tag hard in the ribs. Brooks’ nickname for Tag had emerged years ago. They had been playing tag with a few friends when Brooks had snuck up on Tag, yelling, “Tag! You’re it!” Brooks’ sister, Annaliese, commented on how “tag” just sounded like a shorter version of Montag. From there on, Montag never existed—he was always Tag. 
    Brooks let Tag trail behind him without complaint, advising him on breaking curfew to trigonometry to homecoming dances and anything in between. When Tag turned fifteen, the six year gap became less insurmountable, and they evolved into something closer than brothers. 
    Tag cut to the point. “I need a book. Now.” 
    “C'mon, don’t you want to talk? Pour out your conflicted teenage heart to me? It’s been at least a month since our therapy session,” Brooks mocked. Tag ducked out of Brooks’ arm. Although they had pulled more than one all-nighter in deep conversation, Tag didn’t want to start a long heart-to-heart. 
    “I told you, I need a book. Preferably a thick one.” Tag cursed how his tone dissolved into pleading on his last sentence.
    "My, aren't we desperate?"
    “Brooks. Please. You know what it’s like when you need—”
    “The right book. Yeah, I understand.” Brooks sighed and switched to business; his sharp gaze—storms hovering between blue and gray—became concerned and solemn. 
    “What do you have?” Tag knew he sounded vulnerable and idiotic when he was like this, but the hunger for the beauty of a story gnawed at him. Insatiable.
    “There’s a new collection in the RUU. Arrived at the crack of dawn today.” RUU—a room filled with Rare, Unusual, and Unique books—was one of many acronyms for sections of the bookstore.
    “A crate of twenty-five?”
    “Ten this time.”
    “What were you doing here at the crack of dawn?” Tag wondered, inching toward the stairs.
    “Couldn’t sleep. Besides, I’m implementing a new organization system.” Brooks lowered his voice, glancing back toward the cafe. “Also… Elly’s brothers are in hot water again, so she’s pretty anxious. I let her crash here.” A small part of Tag mused, Were you with her? Elly was Brooks’ girlfriend of ten months.
    “What happened this time?”
    Brooks shook his head. “That’s her deal. I can’t tell you.” Tag shrugged. It’s not my business. Elly’s three younger brothers were all alike but as opposite from Elly as night and day. It wasn’t the first time they had been on the wrong side of the law. 
    “Well, give her my regards. Have you looked through the books yet?” Tag was already at the top of the curved landing, eyeing the second floor.
    “Nope, it’s all yours to discover. And the girl’s.”
    “A girl?” His confusion and Brooks’ smirk was the only thing that held Tag’s feet to the wooden staircase.
    “Maybe you’ll finally have a girlfriend. It’s been long enough since you’ve been involved with anyone,” Brooks teased. “This girl was striking, I’ll give her that. You know I notice everything about everyone. Tall, around your age. Her hair, it was dark with unusual streaks in it, kind of russet and gold. It looked natural, believe it or not. Like… fire and sunlight amidst—amidst a waterfall of dark chocolate from Springer's Confectionery. You know, that's straight up poetry. Anyway, I think you should find her.”
    “You’re a gen-yoo-wine poet,” Tag noted. Beneath the banter, the steady thrum of necessity bore into him.
    Books. Books. Books, whispered the shelves.
    “A gen-yoo-wine poet, huh?” said a warm voice. With sandy waves of hair that she called frizzy and a smile that never appeared forced, Elly was impossible not to like. Only subtle shadows under her eyes hinted at the anxiety Brooks had described. She walked up to Tag, handed him an iced almond milk latte, and slapped a receipt into Brooks’ hand. 
    “Thanks, Elly.”
    “Don’t thank me, thank him. Three dollars on your tab, Mr. Felmar,” she said teasingly to Brooks. He slipped an arm around Elly’s shoulders as she leaned against him.
    Tag sipped his latte, which was usually a perfect balance of creamy and bitter, as Elly launched into a description of her friend’s engagement party that they had to attend.
    But today, Tag’s latte tasted bland and empty. When Elly’s lattes were flavorless, it was through no fault of her own; it meant he was distracted and book-famished. By the time Brooks and Elly were consumed in discussion, he stood outside of the RUU with latte spillage on his hand.
    The RUU was his favorite section, even when it had no new shipment. Added to the fact that the dark-haired girl had piqued his interest, and nothing could have dragged him away. He wiped his latte-covered hand on his jeans—luckily, they were already stained and worn—and pushed open the warped door. Creeeaaak. 
    The bookcases wound around in a dizzying oval. The room was neatly kept, save for ten volumes spread on the floor beside a foam-padded crate. 
    Tag stared ravenously at the embossed leather covers. Two of the books were identical, black leather with a gold circle in the center. Inside the circle was an intricate shining symbol, foreign to Tag. Tag snatched one of the copies just as the second book disappeared.
    Into the hands of a girl with fire and sunlight in her hair. 
Update as of 11.7.20: I can't edit anymore right now. I've cut down at 1240 words, but it's still 240 too many. *bangs head against desk* I'm also going to look at some different sections of this story (because I have more on the google doc) and see if I might change which part I submit. 
Update as of 11.6.20: after 2 peer reviews, I've changed several things, but it still way exceeds the word limit at 1651 words. GRRRR. Much thanks to Stone of Jade and BizzleWrites!
Also, don't worry about indentations and grammar. I copy+pasted from my google doc, so it's bound to get messed up. 

This is a very rough draft... but I've loved this idea for a long time. It's been sitting in my drive for a while, and I realized I could just pull it and use it here. I know it exceeds the word limit. I'm working on it.
The inspiration for this was originally from Pinterest, but that actually isn't even mentioned in this excerpt yet. It was the idea of a book where the main character falls in love with the reader. The book mentioned here is that book, written directly to the reader. If you'd like a transcript of that pin, message me in the comments and I'll copy and paste it in a reply. It's a fascinating idea. I decided to put a story within a story here, but unfortunately, I'm already exceeding the word limit...
I'll cut more eventually, but I just wanted to publish it for now. I'll also release another excerpt of a different section so you guys can help me decide which to submit. This piece starts from the beginning. It's chapter 1 of part 1.
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4 Comments
  • LaurenBeeWrites

    This is the first chance I got to read this... it blew me away! I’m here for you, girl if you need me. Editing can be.... yeah....anyway... your writing is so unique and beautiful and really just jaw dropping!!!! <3


    6 months ago
  • Stone of Jade

    re: yea i know what you mean! I'm glad i can help and i am so thankful for your help! you seem like such a sweet person and such a talented writer. Personally, i had no ideas for the speech comp so i didn't enter. plus i was super stressed and busy bc i started working and then with school i didn't have much time for writing. i was gonna skip this comp too but novel/creative writing is my fav so i really wanted to enter. haha cutting word count is so so hard. one thing that helps is taking out sentences and rewriting them in a new way. i did that with the "reveal" of Tallis. i don't really know which way i like better tbh (longer vs shorter). i know you can do the same with your piece! Keep working on it--you'll get there!


    6 months ago
  • dead account

    re: i honestly don't know. maybe he's on vacay, idk. i'll figure it out.


    6 months ago
  • Stone of Jade

    okay wow. this is still so amazing even after all the editing!! I can't believe you cut down to 1240! That is a HUGE accomplishment and must have taken so long! It took me forever to cut only 166 words...i cant imagine almost 300! still so so good too! the main story and descriptions and everything i loved about it are still there!!
    but also i def believe in you! I know you will be able to cut it down! Don't give up ;) Can't wait to read more!!


    6 months ago