Books Tell Tales, a Short Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic


A story of a romance, boy meets girl. The boy wants to be a writer. But will the girl beat him to it and finish her book first? Is the boy going to be a serious writer nobody reads and the girl a
rich successful one? Only the girl has the answer.

Submitted: November 22, 2017

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Submitted: November 22, 2017

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He took the short bus ride to her house. Rather, the bus didn't stop right outside, so he had to walk the rest of the way. He had to go up a hill to get there and it was a relief sometimes later in the evening to go downhill on the way back as it made for a pleasant walk. Up to her front door, he strode over her concrete drive. She opened the door as she had done many times, smiled and invited him in. Her home had a comfortable settee with drapes over it and the lamps gave a warm glow. She had paintings on the walls. Once he asked her about her paintings and though she described them briefly in matter-of-fact terms, she did not say why she had bought them.

They talked during these visits. And then as the hours drew on until it was late, he would go.

In her living room when he came during the day at weekends, the scent came in from the open window of flowers she had planted in the large garden behind the house. She had just a settee, a coffee table, a TV on its own table and a bookcase in her living room. Really, it reminded him of years ago when he had seen such a room. It had no computer and no clutter. It was just her and her armchair or settee almost. And this was more than enough to welcome him every time. He had a fondness for this room despite it having so little in it.

On one of these visits when they were in her living area, she'd read out from a book. He listened but wasn't terribly interested. Some time ago, he'd had an interest in such books himself. But he now found them boring and he had not read many of them anyway. However, to please her, he had found the same books again. Later, he told her that although he had them, he had not read any of them yet. He hadn't read them as although he had looked at one, it reminded him of things he knew already. And so he had lain the book back down. She was annoyed and disappointed. And they argued over it. But then she stayed silent. Later he did not read it again, despite intending to. It was really such an old interest. Next time she mentioned the subject he stayed quiet for he could remember nothing about it. It seemed these were her favorite books. Maybe, he would try to look again. He did not know what other things she read and so he would ask. But she did not say. They talked as he had an interest in something in which she was always ready to listen. However, he wondered if she really was interested. So he stopped reading so much about it. This was when she had not said she read anything about it herself.

One thing he liked about her was, unlike him, she had no worries. Often when he said he had heard something that had made him worry, she would poke fun at it a bit and make him laugh. She told him to laugh at it all, such as these personages in the Public Eye who talked about the country's problems but were caught visiting prostitutes. Or they had affairs. And he should laugh at the bad things that happened to others. There was some joke usually, something going on, or something not to take seriously about it. This was even if something was supposedly not humorous. Sometimes this galled him. If anyone else had told him, it would have seemed cruel and heartless. However, her humor was infectious. And he thought that she always said things with a good heart. Nor could he really find anything to criticize about things she said. He had perhaps taken everything too seriously and did not see how she could be so flippant. Often when he talked about his worries and problems, she would catch her breath and look disdainful.

She did tell him things about herself, but he might think of nothing to ask. Once she told him, she had done a thing that he had read about at times out of general interest. However, they quickly got into the most controversial issues about it. So the discussion was over. Also, she told him other things about her background. Really, he should have read up about it. But he hadn't. Now he felt that he'd had enough of books. What good were they anyway when he had not been able to discuss them with her? She would not even tell him why she chose the paintings she had on her walls. He asked her again what books she read, but got no answer. Then when she had gone to the bathroom, he went over to her bookshelf to look. He recognized them as being the same subjects she had talked about so many times to him. And he felt disappointed. Still, he worried. And he spent a lot of time telling her about his worries.

"Laugh at it," she said.

"I can't. There must be a solution."

She bit her lip.

"I'm going to write a book," he told her one day. "This is my big decision. It will be my life's work. I will write it about all my experiences with self-help, dieting, coping with living life and perhaps relationships as well."

Again, she bit her lip. Next time he saw her, she said in a friendly way that if she ever wrote a book it would be something to do with laughing at everything. Really though, she was quite emotional about it. This would be her life's work she had decided and nothing else. He said nothing, as he now did not see what the book would have in it. Another time she told him she had bought a computer and looked things up online. Although she said she had done this, she did not like questions such as to say what she had looked up.

Then one day she led him to another room that had her computer on a desk.

And she said, "There's a button-menu thing. You can see my browsing history and what I've looked up."

He did so and looked for a few minutes. And he saw only an inconsequential list of things she had mentioned to him. It seemed that she had spent many hours looking these things up sitting at a desk in her spare room in front of her computer. He asked her if she would like him to turn off the computer. And as well, he wanted to know if they should go back to the other room. However, she said not to switch the computer off, but to leave it on. She did, she said, have something she wanted to look up later. After that, they went to the kitchen, made a snack and then he left. He felt fulfilled in some ways but in other ways, he felt emotionally empty. And he thought of this as he went home, walking out from her house to go back to his a half-dozen or so streets away in the slight chill of the evening just turning late. Now as he walked, he fell silent unable to hear his own breath. And he felt oddly happy. Then he turned more to the road ahead, breathed in the cool crisp air deeply and went on his way towards his own home.

Next time he came to see her, it was late afternoon and she answered the door in her dressing gown. She offered to cook him some eggs, but he declined as he was on a diet. Then he regretted it a moment later, as he felt hungry when she cooked some for herself. He had lost no weight in years, despite dieting. She ate her eggs on toast. The sounds of birds billing and cooing in the trees of the gardens of hers and the other houses came in to the kitchen crisp and clear. Also, there were the sounds of the street at the front of her house and the general sounds of the late afternoon. But she looked at him oddly for listening to them so attentively. Then she said that she had gone to a nightclub with a friend recently and she might meet other men there. A new girly friend had introduced her to these and other places and she had only recently heard about them from her.

"What have you been doing that you have only just seen fit to tell me about?"

She winced.

"They're men I meet for drinks and I like their company. And they are not boring like you. So I don't know I need you anymore. Perhaps, we should part ways."

"So that's it?"

"I'd prefer it if you would just take your coat and leave now."

He left and went down that hill again for the last time.

Also, he took the time, as he usually did, to breathe the fresh air.

He thought through some things. However, all he had left was regrets. Then he reflected on the things that were now past, but he no longer thought of things that were still to be.

It was though really all still in the future anything more to have. And he did have a future to go yet. But now the future would be different.

When he got in, his home looked lonely and forlorn. It was a dusty room, even though he cleaned it. All homes had dust, but he had just not noticed how dusty his was until now. Yet he had nothing better than this. And nor was there anything better now for him to do but to come back to this. And today was already the past.

Would he write his book about his experiences? Perhaps he would. But he would not now. He looked around at the sticks of furniture. And he sat down in his chair rejected. His thoughts became more morose as the evening light faded. And the light still had some way to fade as he lay thinking more about his day.

He did write it. Yet he could not find another girlfriend for some time as he worried that he would be poor company to anyone when he only thought about his book. But he felt compelled to write it and put all the thoughts down on paper such as had gone around in his head for so long.

After many years, he finished it. He had no close friends and only a few acquaintances. One of them only would read his book. And when he had read it, he said it was full of errors. It might take another year of editing to get it right.

Then, as he went out one day, he met his ex-girlfriend again. And one of the first things he told her was that he had written a book. He asked as well what she had done.

"I wrote one too," she said.

"Wow, please give me a copy."

"No," she said flatly.

"Why won't you? I would really appreciate reading what you've written."

"Why?"

"To see what you've written."

"It's just what you know, the book I planned whilst I was dating you. It's all I talked about to you. Didn't you learn to laugh at things yet?"

"Yes," he said desperately.

"I told you all about it when I was with you. Doesn't that mean something to you? You knew me, a real person. I was a real person you could talk to and not just a book. You knew me for years that you could have said anything and asked anything."

"But you didn't tell me things."

"Like what?"

"Like you've not said what books you read. Nor have you said why you bought the paintings on your walls."

She turned on her heels with disdain he should say such a thing and was gone.

The street he had known for years looked lonely now. He would remember her when he came back here. Also, he would often come here to shop or to catch a bus.

And when he came here again, she would always be disappearing into the mid-morning shoppers as she had done today. Yet she would never really be here, there or anywhere. Nor might he ever see her again. But she existed in more than memory now he had seen her again. And there was a book still to read or one to read that was like it.

THE END


© Copyright 2018 Earnest Long. All rights reserved.

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