Saturday Short: For the Love of Books

photograph of a book "lovely book!" by Tim Geers on Flickr CC-BY-SA

“lovely book!” by Tim Geers on Flickr CC-BY-SA

“What a waste of time!” the old woman said when she found me curled up in the corner nose buried in a book.

I blinked up at her, annoyed that she had interrupted just as I was getting to the good part and perplexed as to why she felt she had any right to interrupt me. It wasn’t like I had asked for her opinion. I couldn’t think of one nice thing to say in response so returned to the sentence marked by my right index finger. But, like an unnecessary secondary character, she of course didn’t take the hint and go away.

“I said what a waste!” she said louder and someone leaned around the bookstack and shushed her.

“I heard you the first time,” I said without looking up.

She hrumpfed. Whether at me or the shusher, I didn’t know and didn’t particularly care. “It’s such a waste of time reading novels. What do you have at the end? Nothing.”

I looked up and smiled the way my best friend said made her think of a cat when it has the upper hand and its pretty doesn’t know it yet. Apparently, it can be quite terrifying, if you know me. This woman, however, did not.

“If you think that, it’s a wonder you’re in a library.” I stretched my grin wider.

“Well, I never!” Her cheeks flushed as she turned and stomped away, her arms full of what I imagined had to be the most boring nonfiction books the library had in its collection. A novel tumbled off the top shelf, narrowly missing her head.

I went over and picked up the novel, which had thankfully landed spine down on the floor. “That was a very silly thing to do.” I smiled, a real smile. “She’s not worth losing pages for, you know.” I slid the book back into its place on the shelf.

“It’s not a waste of time,” a voice behind me said.

“I know that,” I replied to no one but the books and resumed reading.