I sit in a box, the summer heat warming up my pages. This box is called a ‘little free library’ and I’m surrounded by strangers of different sizes and origins. I try to befriend a couple, but honestly, we each keep to our own most of the time. You might think it’s weird that a book is talking to you right now. “How is it even speaking?” “Where did it learn to write?” Well, let me remind you that I am made up of all the words I am using at the moment, I’m just rearranging them in a way to tell you a story.
Back to the present. Every now and then, the glass door that separates us and ‘the hands’ opens and a cool seaside breeze shuffles our pages slightly.
Today, it’s finally my turn to be chosen. I’ve lost count of the days since I’ve been in here and honestly, I can’t wait to get out. It seems like I’m in an asylum full of crazy books who have each their own stories of where they’ve come from, who’s opened them, and who’s left them there. We’re kind of like orphaned puppies by the side of the road; we don’t know where we come from, but we’re excited to meet someone when they pick us up.
Today, these gentle hands shuffle around the 15 or so of us inside this box. She’s got silver rings and strong yet long and feminine hands. She settles on me, hesitantly. She turns me around and reads my back, then shuffles me open – this action always makes me giggle, it feels like I’m being tickled. She seems hesitant and someone is waiting by her side to finish picking one of us. I guess I’m a good story because she settled with me!
She takes me back to where her other hand friends are, basking in the sun and enjoying some fun by the shore. Wait, is that a lake or the sea? Hmm, I guess that’s a trivial question for a book.
She clutches me closely, but she’s got another book by her side, so I feel kind of like a home-wrecker. I can tell this other book also suits her hands, it seems strong yet beautiful. I’m just glad to be out of that box and in the fresh air!
A few weeks pass by and suddenly, her hands pick me up again in her room and start flipping through my pages. She reads quietly and quickly, as though she’s been starved from a good story in a while. Maybe that sounds pretentious of me, but how do I know what other stories she’s read until now? Occasionally I feel her nose slip between my pages and into the crook of my spine, as she inhales deeply. She takes in my smell and giggles. I blush a little, thinking how my smell – not just my story – makes this girl so happy. She’s definitely weird.
Finally, she’s done with me. She holds me tight to her breasts as she gently closes me after having read my last few words. This time, I’m able to smell her. She smells like the sea. I’ll miss this girl.
One day, after getting to know her other books – the tall ones, the short ones, the foreign ones that I can’t understand when they talk to me, the sassy ones who think they’re royalty, the biographies who only talk about themselves, the fiction ones that seem to always come up with a new story to entertain the rest of us, and the crime ones who keep us awake at night to spook us – she picks me up and puts me in her bag.
I feel the thud of her thighs hit me on the side as she bikes down her town. Field trip time!
Suddenly, she stops, and I hear her ask “Hi! Do you like to read?”
Hmm, weird question to ask a stranger, but I guess you’re weird like that! I think.
I can’t hear what the person replies to her, but suddenly she picks me up from her bag and holds me in one hand as she extends it towards what seems to be a dirty man who was sitting on the street accompanied by two pit bulls and an old backpack. Wow, that’s terrifying, yet intriguing.
“Here, have this book. Have you heard of it? It’s a great story and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it if you like to read. I was headed to a Little Free Library to put it there, but I seem to be a bit lazy to bike all the way. Would you be interested in taking care of it and reading it? If not, you can always put it back in that little box and someone else will read it,” She says as she puts me in the mans hands.
He takes me in his hands, which are much rougher and dirtier than his, but somewhat gentle too. I’ll miss her hands. He seems to have heard of me, or at least of a movie made on me, and promises the girl he’ll read it. The last time I saw her, her hair was whipping in the wind as she biked away, down the street, and out of view.
I wonder what my next story with this pit bull man will be.
He takes me under a bridge at night and starts flicking through my pages, but it’s too dark to read. He puts me back in his ragged backpack. I wake up in water. I’m soaked, my pages stick to my sides, able to be ripped by a simple gush of wind. I’m fragile now. I’m scared.
I feel his rough hands scoop me out of the water as he curses under his breathe. His dogs yelp as the cold water soaks them too in the pouring rain. Everything is ruined and soaked. Compared to when I was in a warm home watching the rainstorms outside from her windows, actually being a part of them feels completely different and uncomfortable. I don’t like this, I was made to be dry!
He gently places me on a dry rock and watches over me for the rest of the day. I know he cares about me. Let’s hope I dry well and he’s able to read me, if not, then I guess it’s my time. I’ve been passed between a lot of hands, a lot of owners, and a lot of places. I look up at the sky and see a bird fly high in the morning sky. It briefly looks down at me, and for a second I imagine what it would be like to be a baby bird, waiting for their mother, warm in their nest, as they look up at the sky.
I have a lot of brothers and sisters, so even if I’m forever lost, you’ll still be able to read our story: One flew over the cuckoo’s nest. I’m just the story of one book, in one girl’s hands, in one city.