lady lantsov

United States

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

Daughter of God

jr in HS
sporadically here

Message to Readers

republishing for nostalgia, you know?

The Things Which Can Happen in a Bookstore

February 19, 2021

    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. For the inexplicable warmth that emanated from the pages. Reminding him who he was and giving life to dreams of who he might become.
    His legs changed from walking to jogging without consulting him first. White Converse thudded against leaf shadows on the sidewalk. Books for the Soul felt infinitely far. Would his paper-and-ink lifeline stretch—stretch—and—snap
    A quarter mile from his own house, and he seriously doubted he’d make it. It wasn’t his physical abilities that he questioned; he was a runner. His mental and emotional states, however, needed a swig of that life-giving water: books. And possibly an iced latte.
    Tag breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the bookstore's rough-cut wooden sign dangling in the distance. Rays of July morning sun glistened across the hand painted letters. 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—always found the right book.
    Tag peered through the window before stepping into his second home. Rather than bells on the door, like any other store, a cacophony of bagpipes and harmonica greeted him. As the recording ended, a potpourri of aromas enveloped Tag. Coffee. Cinnamon tea. Chocolate chip cookies. Musty pages. Lemon cleaner. Tag shook off the nostalgia and was about to search for Brooks when he emerged from the cafe section, grinning.
    “Montag Croftrow. Where. Have. You. Been? School ended weeks ago!" he exclaimed. "And I know that varsity soccer workouts don’t start until August," he added. 
    "Just busy.” Tag shrugged. "And no one calls me Montag but my grandmother."
    "Busy. Mhm. So, Tag, what's up?" Brooks wrapped an arm around Tag's shoulders, grinning down at him. His other hand snaked around and jabbed Tag in the ribs. Brooks’ nickname for Tag had emerged years ago—during a game of tag. From there on, Montag ceased to exist. He was always Tag. 
    Brooks let Tag trail behind him without complaint, advising him on breaking curfew, trigonometry, homecoming dances and everything 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 pour out your conflicted teenage heart to me? It’s been at least a month since our last therapy session,” Brooks mocked. Tag ducked out of Brooks’ arm. Although they had pulled more than one all-nighter in conversation, Tag had no desire to start a long heart-to-heart. 
    “I told you, I need a book.” Tag cursed how his tone dissolved into pleading.
    "My, my, aren't we desperate?”
    “Brooks. Please. You know what it’s like when you need—”
    “The right book. Yeah, I understand.” Brooks sighed; his gaze—storms hovering between blue and gray—turned solemn and businesslike. 
    “What do you have?” Tag knew he sounded idiotic like this, but the hunger for a comforting 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.”
    “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?” Tag’s foot hovered over the next step. Brooks smirked.
    “Maybe you’ll get your first girlfriend since, what, sophomore year? This girl was striking, I’ll give her that. You know I can’t help but notice everything about everyone. Tall, around your age. Her hair… it was dark with unusual highlights, kind of russet and gold. Like streaks of fire and sunlight.” He paused, contemplating. “You know, that's straight up poetry. Anyway, I think you should find her.”
    “You're turning into a gen-yoo-wine poet,” Tag noted. Beneath the banter, the steady thrum of necessity bored into him.
    Books. Books. Books, insisted the shelves. But a whisper of girl, girl, girl joined the cadence as Tag's curiosity swelled.
    "Yeah, I’ll be the next Tennyson or Wordsworth,” laughed Brooks. “Before I get back to work” —he gestured toward three unopened book crates beside the register counter—“let me grab your latte. I figured you’d need it when I saw you running.” Brooks hurried to the cafe and returned bearing an iced latte. Where would I be without Brooks?
    “Thank goodness for friends and iced lattes, right?” said Brooks as Tag took a sip and nodded with approval.
    “And books.”
    “And books,” he heard Brooks agree. 
    But Tag could wait no longer, throwing a hasty “thanks” over his shoulder as he flew up the second flight of stairs. He stood, almost reverently, outside of the RUU with latte spillage on his hand.
    The RUU exerted a curious magnetism for Tag. Added to the fact that the dark-haired girl had piqued his interest, and a herd of wild stallions couldn't have dragged him away. He wiped a latte-covered hand on his stained jeans and pushed open the warped door. Creeeaaak
    Low bookcases wound around in a dizzying oval. Particles of dust drifted above an armchair and a sofa, illuminated by the morning sun that beamed through a single window. Ten leather-bound volumes, ornate and meticulously crafted, were spread on a paisley rug that lay at the foot of the sofa.
    Tag stared ravenously at two identical books. Centered on their mahogany covers was an intricate symbol, shining within a gold circle. 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.
11.15.20: Word Count: 994
Final Draft (#7)

Login or Signup to provide a comment.

  • Tushar Mandhan

    okay so what happened next? a conversation?? and how did you just wrote such a realistic dialogue.....i mean brooks sounded like well....there are some people i know of XD and 'gen-yoo-wine' brilliant! and tag's urge to get book..totally relatable!

    11 months ago
  • BriRiley

    Wow this is cool!

    11 months ago