Fully Booked

Reads: 80  | Likes: 2  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 2

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

Howard was mocked by his workmates for being into books.

Howard Neville had worked at the company for a little over three years. He was over thirty and ten years older than a lot of his younger colleagues. Whereas all the other blokes in the office were into football and lager, he was into books and history, television and films. The lads he worked with mocked him mercilessly. They thought he was a nerd, a geek. Howard on the other hand thought they summed up what was wrong with society and the country these days. If they had been asked to name a book they had read or an author they’d be stumped, but they could name every contestant from the last seven series of Love Island. He would often deliberately drop into conversation a question that had come up on University Challenge and wait for the exchange of sneering glances. He wasn’t like them, that was obvious, but why did they have to mock him? He wasn’t a sports fan, they weren’t into history and art, who cared? Surely everyone could be different, free to be into whatever they chose. But, no, Howard was the constant butt of their jokes because he was different. They would refer to him as Harry Potter or on a big evening for football, ask if he would be busy with his knitting that evening. Howard would smile politely or roll his eyes.

One of the things they teased Howard over was the fact that he was an avid reader. He would just tut and shake his head when they started on him, much to their amusement. Whenever he reached for his paperback at lunchtime, they would ask what he was reading, he would just reply that it was a thriller or a fantasy or give them the gist. They weren’t interested, and would laugh at his replies, but he wasn’t quite brave enough to tell them to get lost.

He grabbed his paperback and sandwiches from his desk drawer. His colleagues looked up, in anticipation.

‘What’s that you’re reading, H?’

‘It’s a thriller, they made a film of it, actually.’

‘Sounds riveting. Hope you don’t lose your page, Howard.’

Howard shuffled to the canteen. He made himself a cup of tea and grabbed a quiet table in the corner of the large room. He took a sip of tea.

He opened his paperback book, found where on the page he was up to. And then it happened. The way it always did. The modern world, the real day to day world, faded away.

He was back there, he was thirteen years old, the class were being shown into the school library. Mr Keane, the English teacher who had an exaggerated air of the Carry On film about him, flicked his tie over his shoulder dramatically and told the class to find a book and ‘lose yourselves for the next hour’. Young Howard found a novel set during the Second World War about a boy who finds a machine gun. He curled up in a leather chair, and with the rain battering the window outside, he immersed himself in the book. The characters and the fictional world were as real to him as the school and his classmates. There was just something wonderful about the situation, free to read any book he chose, the cosy library, the books and the characters calling to him, safe and sheltered from the raging storm outside. He had known then he would never forget this magical moment.

Howard closed his paperback book. He finished his cup of tea. As he looked around the office canteen, he spotted his colleagues. The group that constantly mocked him for reading paperback fiction were huddled around a table. None of them were speaking, each staring down at their mobile phone screens, scrolling through social media. Howard smiled to himself and went to make himself another cup of tea.


Submitted: January 01, 2021

© Copyright 2021 CTPlatt. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

AdamCarlton

The sad and lonely plight of the cultivated person exiled amongst the peasantry! :(

Fri, January 1st, 2021 9:32am

Jennifer Brighton

This was a good read.

Fri, January 1st, 2021 11:06am

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