An Idle Day in a Bookstore

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

It was an especially warm summer’s day. The cicadas were chirping a miniature concert, so loud that the sound almost drowned out anything else. Heat mirages rolled off the thoroughfares and reflected like a million tiny diamonds along the streets.

Oh darn, I can’t believe I’ll have to go out there again. Matt thought glumly as he gazed towards the blistering summer heat just beyond the bookstore’s glass panels.

“I’m gonna be medium rare by the time I reached the car.” He muttered glumly as he approached the paying counter. That was when someone opened the door to the bookstore, and its door opened up with a jingle of bells. She was dressed in a yellow summer dress, and her long blonde hair trailed behind her as she made her way towards the counter, cutting right in his path before Matt could reach his destination.

“I’m looking for the Songs of Midwinter.” She said to the cashier, while Matt glared at her from behind furrowed brows. Come on, that’s my queue you know. Just before he could open up his mouth, the cashier said after a period of tapping on her computer.

“Oh sorry, mam. There’s only one copy of the book left.” That was the moment the blond woman turned around to see me, and the book I’m carrying in my arms.

“The Songs of Midwinter!” She said as she saw the book I was about to check out. “The last copy.”

She stared at him. He stared back. As their eyes met, Matt thought that some sort of message had been sent between them. They lips curved into a smile at the same instant.

“Give me that book.” The woman in the summer dress said while holding her hand outstretched.

“No.” Matt answered simply. He moved the book closer to his body, his smile curving into a smirk. “Come take it if you want.”

The air between them seemed to buzz with static electricity. Her gaze upon him was intense, and he stared defiantly back in turn. Matt felt his thigh muscles twitching, ready for the slightest sign of movement from the other party. She seemed aware of his stance and crouched slightly lower, ready to spring up at a moment’s notice.

As the cashier stared wide eyed at their standoff, the seconds between them seemed to have spanned into an hour. Time slowed down, as if the whole store was brought into a trance.

That trance was broken when Matt shouted and pointed his finger at something the woman in the summer dress.

“What is that!” The woman shot back a glance to look at whatever was behind her, and Matt took that moment to bolt off while laughing simultaneously. “Hahah. Gotcha!”

The woman growled in rage and ran after him. They spent nearly half an hour chasing each other around that bookstore like little kids, until finally she ran out of breath. Matt, who thought he was going to win, glanced backwards and smirk. “I knew it!” However, since he wasn’t looking forwards at the time, he ran straight into a shopping trolley of another browser and stumbled face first onto the floor.

“Ouch. That looks like it’s gonna hurt.” The woman said as she approached Matt, who was still sprawled on the floor. “Gotcha buddy.” She offered him her hand, which he took gratefully and pulled himself upwards.

“Thanks.” Matt said as he got up and brushed himself off.  He winced at a scrape he got as he’d fallen down.  “Drat. We shouldn’t have done that, I guess.”

“I’d say that’s the case.” The woman said, before offering her hand to him in a handshake. “I’m Samantha, by the way.”

“I’m Matt.” Matt said as he took up the battered copy of The Songs of Midwinter off the floor. It was torn in several places and stained with the footprint of one of the other customers in the shop. “My, the book is ruined. I’m sorry, Samantha.”

“That’s a shame alright.” Samantha said as she idly inspected the condition of the battered novel. “I’d say you owed me one on this, Mr. Matt.” As Matt glanced at her quizzically, she said, “Well. I’d like you to advise me a new novel that can in place of The Songs. Would that be too much to ask?” She then gave him a playful wink, and from that moment on Matt was lovestruck.

Samantha was browsing one of the bookshelves while Matt was leaning against another one. Matt moved in closer to her. Samantha was eyeing a book intently, so much so that she doesn’t seemed to be aware of him at all. Matt carefully placed his hand just next to the section Samantha was searching, and leaned over to look at the details on the covers of the book she was reading from.

“Oh, the Hymns of Serenade. That’s pretty close in theme and writing quality to The Songs, now that I think of it.” She turned around to face him, and there they were, their faces only inches apart. Matt could feel his heart drumming madly within his chest as their eyes met. Hers were pale discs of molten gold, against his eyes of dark almond.

The silence between them seemed to stretch on for an eternity before Matt finally decided to break the silence by turning away and coughing into his hand. Samantha seemed to sense the change in the mood too, and slightly abased, turned away quickly. “Well. That’s a nice suggestion, thank Matt.” She said awkwardly as she placed the book into her shopping cart and strolled on towards the next shelf.

Matt wouldn’t meet her eyes, nor would she meet his, so they strolled forward awkwardly and pretended to inspect the bookshelves instead. Before long, however, the allure of the bookstore and books in general managed to pull them back into the realm of the wonderful and fantastically fictional once more.

They were browsing separately on adjacent shelves. Matt was closing in from the left-hand side, while Samantha was moving from the right-hand side while trying their best to ignore one another. Each of them ran their fingers along the book spines, inspecting each one in turn, sighed, then went forwards towards the next books, all in an extremely similar manner which could even be construed as comical. Both of them steadily moved forwards towards the center of the shelves, and they both finally paused at one book in particular.

Matt paused as his fingers brushed against Samantha’s as they were laid on the spine of a green hardcover novel. He turned up to look at her and said in slight bewilderment, “We were eyeing the same book once again. Is this a coincidence or what?”  

“Maybe it’s fate.” Samantha said with a playful tone in her voice. She took out the book as Matt cracked his neck and started to stretch his limbs.

“So, how should we do this? Same as earlier?” Matt asked while in the middle of one of his stretches.

“You decide.” Samantha said with a sigh. “I wouldn’t prefer to be running through the bookstore again, though. That’s apt to cause property damage. Besides,” She bent forwards to whisper to Matt. “I don’t think the shopkeeper is going to tolerate us any further.”

They were standing uncomfortably close at the moment, and Matt could feel Samantha’s breath on the nip of his ear. He felt slightly bashful as he withdrew and tried to make up for it with a confident laugh. Matt then started to talk in one of those funny British aristocratic voices, to much laughter from Samantha.

“My lady, then if you will, I will have to challenge you to a duel by combat.” Samantha who was giggling, nodded in assent. They each picked up a book that was nearest to them, hardcover preferably, and mimed cutting at each with these bookish swords. They had a whole load of laughter up until right before the shop’s manager came out and told them to cut it off, but they had loads of fun in the process either way.

Matt and Samantha were still giggling as they moved away from the fuming manager.
“That was something, wasn’t it?” Matt asked as he chuckled, “Look at the expression on her face!”

“She’s probably thinking, What are those two idiots doing?” Samantha said before she went into another bout of giggling, “Hur dur, we’re sword fighting, of course!”

They laughed and enjoyed each other’s company immensely, and that was that.

Finally, after what seemed like several hours later, what with the sun outside having set and only the darkness waiting for them, Matt and Samantha were finally finished with their book shopping. Each of them had at least two grocery store bags full of books by the end, and they were smiling as they went up to the cash register.

“See, that wasn’t a bad day after all.” Matt said as he handed the cashier his credit card.

“You meant, not a bad date after all?” Samantha said with a noticeable playful smirk.

“No no no. That’s not a date, girl.” Matt said as he turned towards Samantha with a grin. “I’m gonna show you what’s a date.”

“Alright.” Samantha said as her fingers twirled through her hair, “How about movies. Next Saturday?”

“Movies are good. I watched every genre, so choose what you preferred,” Matt said as he helped Samantha carried her load of books towards the store’s entrance.

“Shall we meet here? 10 am. sharp.” They were at the door, and Samantha pushed open the door for Matt who were hauling both of their books.

“That sounds like a plan to me. Bookstore, 10 am. sharp.” As they stood right in front of the store, with the light of the shopfront shining upon her face in the darkness around them, Matt thought Samantha was especially beautiful at this precise moment. He handed her the books she’d bought. He had a pinch of regret that this wonderful day is finally coming to an end, but tried not to let it show.  

“So. See you later, I guess.” Matt said as he waved at her. Samantha, who was checking her books again, looked up and smiled at him,

“See you later, Matt.” She transferred the bag to one of her arms and waved at him, before turning away and strolling into the night.

Matt, who felt like he couldn’t let this wonderful girl he’d just met out of his sight lest she disappeared forever, finally turned back to go on his way. After a while, he stole a surreptitious glance back towards Samantha. Coincidentally, he found her stealing a glance back towards him as well. They both giggled, and turned back towards their path.

Matt have made up his mind. The next time they meet, it’s gonna be one hell of a date.

Submitted: May 25, 2020

© Copyright 2023 S. K. Inkslinger. All rights reserved.

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Donald Harry Roberts


Mon, May 25th, 2020 11:41am


Thank you for the comment, Donald!

Mon, May 25th, 2020 6:24am

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