don't you see the starlight (#TS)

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

Love y'all!
Reviews appreciated!

Brooks & Tag of the Bookstore: Life Changes

November 17, 2020


    Dying rays of sun had begun to paint the sky in soft hues as Tag followed Brooks into his office. Brooks flicked on the light and sank into his swivel chair. Tag leaned against the desk, clutching the book.
    “Can I take the book home?” Tag pleaded. Brooks shook his head.
    “I already told you, no. I trust you, but this is an RUU book. I can’t take chances with these. The fact that I let you read them without buying is generous. Margaret would have hysterics if you took one of those home.” Tag couldn’t imagine Margaret having hysterics over anything, but he didn’t push the matter. An idea formed on his lips before it connected to his brain.
    “What if we stay the night?” he blurted out. “Like we did when we were younger.” Memories flashed into Tag’s mind of bookstore sleepovers with Dannon, Reid, and Brooks. Moving bookshelves so they could watch black and white films and cheesy horror movies projected onto a white sheet. Curled up by the fireplace, eating freshly baked cookies and drinking hot cocoa that Brooks had allowed them to spike with peppermint schnapps. Playing nerdy, book-oriented games that Dannon reluctantly went along with. Reading aloud from classics in funny accents, changing a few words here and there. Doodling obscenely on copies of old anatomical articles and telling licentious stories about their drawings.
    “It might surprise you, but I do have a life,” Brooks said, jarring Tag back to the present. 
    “Look, Tag, I have other interests and friends outside of this bookstore. You’re my best friend, and that won’t change. But I don’t want to spend every waking—and sleeping—moment here. I want to be home early tonight. I have things to get done at home.”
    Tag felt odd, hollow, drifting. What was Brooks saying?
    “What I’m saying is, I’m going to lock up the store. I’ll put your book in the reserved section in here. You can come back tomorrow and continue reading with the girl.” Brooks eyed the book in Tag’s hand. “How are you not finished with it, anyway? You’ve done nothing but read today, and you’re the fastest reader I know.”
    “I… don’t know.” Tag’s mind wandered back to the girl. So unlike any other girl he’d encountered in the real world. Brooks caught him.
    “Because the girl distracted you, right? They do that,” he said with a smile. Smiling as if nothing had changed. You're not going to deter me that easily.
    “What do you have to do at home?” Tag found himself asking. Brooks shrugged, the picture of nonchalance. Tag knew that shrug all too well.
    “Just some work to finish up.” Brooks leaned back and spun in his chair. “I feel like the CEO of some Fortune 500 company,” he mused. Tag refused to be thrown off his pursuit.
    “Stuff for the store?”
    “I… guess.”
    “You know, I can’t imagine you as a CEO,” Tag admitted. Brooks’ brow creased for a moment. 
    “Really,” he said after a just-too-long pause. Something tense and heavy hung between them before Brooks dispelled it, saying, “Well, I’m going to lock up and make sure everything is off. I’ll take that book off your hands. See you tomorrow!” Brooks reached for the book in Tag’s hands, grinning, but Tag moved away. Something felt wrong here. He frowned at Brooks.
    “What work are you really doing tonight?” he asked. Brooks froze for a fraction of a second before the grin popped back into place. 
    “I told you, I just have some personal work I want to get done. Projects at home.”
    “There’s something you’re not telling me.”
    “Honestly, there are a lot of things I’m not telling you, and you should be thanking me for that. Do you really want to visualize Mr. Darcy in a neon green biki—”
    “Shut up and tell me the truth.” The words came out harsher than Tag intended, but he couldn’t revoke them. The grin slid from Brooks’ face like ice cream melting off of a cone. Then it hardened into something that Tag liked even less than the false cheerfulness.
    Who knew that one word could carry so much weary, cold resignation? 
    “I’m applying for a job,” Brooks said. “I’ve spent almost two years now at Books for the Soul. And it’s fine. I like it. But I didn’t get a business degree for nothing.” All of this made sense to Tag. It sounded reasonable. So why was his stomach still turning cartwheels, a move which it had never perfected?
    “You studied… marketing and advertising?” Tag recalled. Brooks nodded. 
    “I’ve narrowed it down to three. One of them is for the building supply company here in Gemini Springs.”
    “Yeah. They have a position for an assistant marketing technician. I mean, it’s just marketing cabinets and lumber and windows and doors and whatnot. I’d be able to stay here and make decent money. The thing is, there’s only so much room for improvement unless I move to their headquarters in Salt Lake City.”
    “Sounds like you’ve already put thought into this,” Tag noted. “What are the other two options?” He watched Brooks’ eyes shift left to right, then right to left. Never meeting Tag’s gaze. The unease in Tag’s stomach grew. “Just say it,” he pleaded.
    “Work from home. Travel to Boise twice a month for meetings. Almost twice what I make at the bookstore. Advertisement and marketing analyst.” Brooks expelled the words from his mouth as if they weren’t his own. Tag recovered quickly from his shock.
    “Okay,” Tag said, taking a deep breath. “That sounds doable.”
    “But…” Brooks hesitated, long enough for the cartwheels in Tag’s stomach to complete an Olympic gymnast’s routine.     “Well, if I took the third job, I would make three times the salary I have now. Three times, Tag. And that would be my starting salary, even being close to the bottom of the hierarchy.”
    “You’re leaving something out,” Tag said coolly, ignoring the desperation in Brooks’ voice. I need to know.
    “It’s in Eugene. Which is in Oregon,” Brooks said in a small voice. “Which is about 570 miles west. Which is about 9.5 hours away.”
    “Which you have already calculated.”
    “Yes,” whispered Brooks, refusing to look at him. Of all things, he was twiddling his thumbs under his desk.
    All of the unease that had hung between them now settled into Tag’s stomach. Well, I think that was the last of the bad news, he thought bitterly. At some point, he had let go of the book and was now gripping the edge of the desk. 
    “If you had seen the company’s website…” Brooks ventured.
    “Yeah?” Brooks seemed encouraged by Tag’s interest. He sat up straight, glancing at Tag.
    “It was incredible, Tag. Eugene is a university town, right? University of Oregon is right there. So this company caters to college students. It’s kind of a conglomeration of companies, lots of different products. Planning, leadership, decor, office supplies, bedding, shelves, clothing, even food products and utensils and the like. Eugene is their headquarters, but I think they have branches in Corvallis, Portland, Pullman, Tacoma, Seattle, and a few other college towns in Oregon and Washington. Anyway, the ways that marketing and advertising change when it comes to young adults is fascinating. When a company looks at people like me, these young, twenty-something adults who are all idealistic and are being exposed and bombarded by new ideas, that’s when you give them something they can’t resist. Or something they need.” Brooks’ eyes were animated, sparkling with enthusiasm. Tag couldn’t deny that. 
    And he hated it. He hated himself for hating it. What kind of friend was he, that he didn’t want Brooks to pursue his interests?
    “That is neat,” Tag admitted. “But…” He stopped himself. That wasn’t a fair move to pull on Brooks if he was truly interested in this career.
    “Say it. You don’t want me to leave you,” Brooks announced as he placed a hand over his heart for dramatic effect, surprising Tag into laughter. 
    “When you say it like that…” He paused, still catching his breath. “It’s not just me. It’s the bookstore. It’s the memories. It’s Gemini Springs.” 
    “For you, maybe. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve enjoyed growing up here. But that’s just it; I’ve grown up here.” Brooks leaned forward, folding his arms on the desk. “There are other places to see. I’m not about to be stuck here much longer.” Stuck here? Stuck?
    “Is that how you think of Gemini Springs? A place where you’re stuck by default?” Tag inquired. Bitterness seeped into his voice, but Brooks took no notice.
    “Don’t you? Don’t you want to get out and see the world? Or at least another town or state? Obviously, you will when you go off to college, but once you’ve tasted freedom, I doubt you’ll return here. At least for several years.”
    “I already have plans for college,” Tag said. “I have the application forms on my desk for Gemini Springs College.”
    “What? Absolutely not. You can’t just decide to go to G.S.!” 
    “Why not? You did,” challenged Tag. Frustration bubbled where the unease was fading. 
    “But you’re smarter and more driven than me. You have potential, real potential. I just… I can’t see you going to a little community college and never experiencing something different.”
    “Yeah, well, maybe I’m not like you,” Tag retorted. “I can make my own decision about college. And I’m happy where I am. I can’t just shake off seventeen years of life like you can.” He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Brooks had no right to direct the next chapters of his life. Tag, unlike Brooks, was tied to this place. 
    After trips and vacations, whether short or long, Tag felt a sense of comfort and relief when he returned home. Even if he had only traveled a few towns over for a soccer match. He wondered if Brooks felt a pang of regret every time he had to leave from vacation or a trip. How did I never notice this about him? 
    Tag answered his own question aloud. “Because I ignored all of the signs.” He looked back at a puzzled Brooks. “I ignored all the hints and signs you gave about wanting to leave Gemini Springs and see the world because I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted you to be like me. Stay here forever.”
    “And I’m tired of being static and stuck,” Brooks said with a sad smile. “I need something else. Something new. ”
    “But I need…” Tag paused, reluctant to say something sappy. He decided to forge ahead. “But I need you.” 
    Brooks shook his head.
    “To stay here,” Tag added. 
    “You need to taste freedom. Gain some life experience,” Brooks said. “I think then you’d understand.”
    “But you attended G.S. for college,” Tag argued. “So when did you first ‘taste freedom?’” He put the last two words in air quotes. 
    “Our senior trip to Los Angeles, five years ago,” Brooks said. “The whole class went.” Tag waited as Brooks took them for a quick jaunt down memory lane. “Let’s see. I had long hair back then”—he brushed his shoulder for reference—“everyone was hungover from Richardson’s after-grad party, and I had been dating Carrie Garber since I took her to prom. She threw up on California Screamin’ when she was sitting next to me.”
    “And it was disgusting. We broke up after the trip.”
    “That’s not what I meant.”
    “I know. What you’re asking about is when I first tasted freedom.” Brooks’s gray eyes took on a dreamlike quality. “I felt like I was in a place full of life. LA had this vibrance, this glow to it. It wasn’t like Salt Lake City. It wasn’t like Boise. It was certainly nothing like Gemini Springs. But after a week, I realized… I didn’t want to stay there forever. I liked it, but it was a little too much.”
    “But it made you see that you wanted something more than our town can offer,” Tag realized. A hollowness settled over him.
Word Count: 2018
Hey people! This came to me with striking clarity while I was practicing volleyball and exercising today, and I finally made time to write it all down. This is more of a oneshot/imagined scene for my own story for the competition, The Things Which Can Happen in a Bookstore. This piece will fit with the original storyline. I hoped I stayed true to each character, conveyed the changing emotions and fluidity of emotion, and portrayed accurate dialogue and a strong friendship between Brooks and Tag. If you haven't read my original pieces, well... you don't have to, but it might help.
I would love feedback and reviews on this piece! It's definitely going to be worked in at some point. 
If you have any questions, ask! I know it might be a little confusing since it doesn't exactly flow with the excerpt I submitted for the novel competition. As for timeline, this takes place at the end of the first day at the bookstore.


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  • ava09 (sorta back)

    fhduakflhsdflkajsdvad i love this. the little bit about the throwing up and the "and?"/"and it was disgusting. we broke up after the trip." made me laugh XD
    replying: sorry i haven't replied sooner - i've had a lot of school work and stuff to do so i haven't been on WTW in a week or so. i'm glad you liked my comment, i love yours too! :) maybe you should publish the longer version for fun! i know i would love to read it. :) cornelia strees is so underrated and all the others you mentioned are so lovely and i love them (especially london boy and miss americana). HAHA YAY! oo i love that quote, it's honestly quiet true. i've only read the first anne book, maybe next time i go to the library i'll find and read the rest. bahahah i mean xc is a very hateable sport but LOL that so funny. Oo yay the 400! i ran the 4x100 all of two times? i think, and someone in our race dropped the baton so i think you guys were more successful than us XD the 400 is hard but for me the 800 is harder. i'm sure you'll be sub 6 next season - covid sucks. :( but you got this! yay i'm glad you like my bubble idea! maybe i should write a piece about us all in the bubble lolll. haha omg you LOOKED THEM UP FOR ME ILYY <3 i will go watch them right now!!! not a tea girl?!?! *gasps* i am haha my favorite is earl grey. if not tea, are you a coffee girl? but that's a yes from me to vintage tea shops fall the thames brick ivy and bridges and all of itttt. oo i know the piece you're talking about!! honestly, the first time i read it i wasn't thinking in that mindset but once he said he was inspired by her i was like OH I SEE IT NOW haha. love tushar tho, he's great, and that piece was masterful! omg "vicious repeat on youtube" i support haha. you are so right wonderland is addicting and intense - just like that relationship. i also love the long comments convos and fangirling so basically i'm down anytime and i promise i'll respond eventually even if i go mia for a while! hugs from the midwest back to you! ;) <3

    10 months ago
  • mirkat

    re: oh that is splendid, thank you so much! you know like last week i actually submitted stardust (made them into one big one and did some edits) and submitted to ice lolly review! got the news today that it's gonna be in issue 5 which is coming out in December sometime!!! so that is exciting... will look at this list. i think you should submit something somewhere, too! <3<3<3

    10 months ago
  • Stone of Jade

    Chapter 1 of On the High Seas has been published!

    (this is basically a longer version of my novel comp entry so not many changes. Mainly check out the message board)

    10 months ago
  • Stone of Jade

    woah woah woah! how did i miss this!!! Can you plz notify me so i make sure to read all your pieces in this story :) I love it so so much XD

    10 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Re: Wow, I'm glad you learned something about yourself. Yeah everyone has a little bit of all of them, but they generally have one or two that stand out. Sanguines are great!
    Oh interesting. Wait so your in Cali too? That's awesome. And yeah my area of Cali is somewhat conservative as well but not rural really (although I do have an orchard behind my backyard). That's pretty cool about the environment and small-town feel.

    10 months ago
  • mirkat

    um.. so i value your opinions so much and i love your writing and review and so i was wondering if you could review this for me?
    i am really proud of it and want to submit it to a lit mag but want a few reviews first! thank you so much! <3<3<3

    10 months ago
  • Rohan’s Defender (Semi-Active)

    Re: awww thank you so much!! :) and yess of course I will!!! I’m excited to read more!

    10 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Re: Thanks! Oh wow. That's a lot of people!! More than ten times the size of my town. I didn't know rural areas could have lots of people. *audible confusion*
    Oh that's cool! I guess I accidentally started a mini temperament trend lol. Phlegmatics are often a fairly even mix of three or all four temperaments, so that's not too surprising tbh. However, Cholerics are not people pleasers; Phlegmatics are. Cholerics are opinionated, determined. and strong-willed, so maybe you have a lot of one of those traits.

    10 months ago
  • Huba Huba

    Okay this story is so cute, pretty, and emotional.
    Re: I see where you're going when you say that tea is healthy. For me, drinking tea gives me a pure and healthy feeling, and I like the warm and fuzziness of it, but it without sugar is too bitter for me sadly. My taste buds have high standards hehe.
    What worldwide country foods do you like? I'm a huge fan of French food, Italian food and Japanese food. As we've spoken about before, France and Italy has all those cute and creamy crepes that make me want to buy like a lot and go home with an empty wallet. I also like making pasta, and I looooove pesto sauce for some reason. Japanese food makes me feel healthy for no reason whatsoever. I'll literally eat like, Japanese cup ramen or a Japanese candy and I'll feel healthy. It's a weird feeling of satisfication.
    The books I read... my memory cannot allow me to list as many books as you did, but I have read a couple books that you've read! LOTR and the Hobbit are my top favorite series, and some other long series I've read include Harry Potter, The Land of Stories, Inkheart, Magyk, School of Good and Evil, and don't flip at me: Twilight.
    Some really good single books I've read include Lying in the Mud, The Secret Life of Bees, and Made You Up.
    I'm also a huge fan of manga, as I've read Death Note, and the sequel Death Note: Los Angeles BB Murder cases, Banana Fish, Tokyo ghoul, and more.
    I actually have some classics that I enjoy, which are the Count of Monte Cristo, Jane Eyre, and Pride and Prejudice. Yup, I'm old :))
    What is your favorite condiment? Mine is Mayo, and according to Squidward, Mayo is not an instrument.

    10 months ago
  • dead account

    i love them both so much?? what???

    11 months ago
  • mirkat

    submitted review!

    11 months ago
  • don't you see the starlight (#TS)

    Is it just me who can't decide between Brooks and Tag for their dream guy? (if you're into guys?)

    11 months ago