Every book-shop needs a ghost

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
What can be better than a cosy dusty place to spend an eternity? Only a cosy dusty place full of books, and good company.

Submitted: January 11, 2017

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Submitted: January 11, 2017



‘Every decent book-shop needs a ghost’, she declared when she moved in, looking as youthful and raggedy as half a century ago when they first met. ‘A ghost, or a cat. And I am way better than a cat, you know. You don’t need to feed me, and I don’t shed hair or stink. By the way, the cellar still smells funky. You should do something about the pipes there’.

‘Don’t you abuse my hospitality, young lady’, the book-seller snapped in mock offence.

‘For your information, I died at a venerable age, surrounded by numerous grandchildren you had so graciously wished on me’, she said, sitting down on a stack of books and picking up a tattered paperback (special offer: one for five, three for ten) to leaf through.

‘So why are you not haunting them?’ he asked. ‘To what do I owe the honour?’

The ghost shrugged. ‘How would I know? Must be something about this place’. She adjusted her spectacles and raised an eyebrow at him. ‘Or about you. How come you hadn’t aged a bit?’


Outside, Palma de Mallorca was drowsy in summer heat.

‘Well, it could have been worse’, she summed up. ‘Don’t you find it strange that people still buy books on paper these days?’

‘I wish they did’, the book-seller sighed. ‘I think I still have in stock quite a few volumes that you saw on your first visit’.

‘Waiting for me to read them, clearly. Oh, I remember these!’ she exclaimed merrily as she flew over to the table piled with assorted knick-knacks and pamphlets and fished out a thin poetry collection in faded red cover (set of ten for fifty, not sold separately).

‘Would you be so kind to put everything back into its place after you are done?’ he interjected.

‘Most certainly!’ the ghost said, already curling up in an antediluvian armchair with the poetry book open in her lap. ‘Now listen, this one is simply amazing’.

And thus the haunting began.

When her presence did not manifest in the form of a pair of flip-flopped feet dangling from the top of a book-case or rustling pages, it was evident in the relocation of things. The arrangement of the shop – four floors of books, mostly in English – had been rather spontaneous to begin with, for that was how the book-seller preferred it (besides, that eliminated the problem of restoring order after the inevitable merchandise misplacement by the customers); and the way the ghost disrupted it didn't actually alleviate the chaos, so to a casual observer the shop still looked like a treasure cove of a littery (and literary) attic. Yet the book-seller could notice the subtle changes brought on by her interference that were not unlike skilful corrections to a text causing words to suddenly spark vivid imagery.

Moreover the ambience in the store had altered as well. Every now and then he would reach for a book to check on its price or examine its condition and find himself propped uncomfortably against the shelf, engrossed in reading. Fortunately for the business, the visitors to the shop were affected likewise, so it would rarely take more than a tactful cough from the book-seller before they, guilt-ridden, directed themselves to the cash desk. The only inconvenience was the need to scour the shop for clandestine readers before closing.

‘One ghost is enough’, the book-seller would murmur, but only at times when she was out, perhaps keeping company to a visionary painter next door, or dancing to a street musician's tune, or sitting by herself on the stone steps of a nearby church and basking in the sun. Nevertheless, when she returned, seeping discreetly through the locked door, the book-seller would be there, pretending to work on his ledger, as Palma woke up to the mellowness of the night.

© Copyright 2018 Kendzior. All rights reserved.

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