I see your eyes as they come down the shelf, scanning the covers. You’ve only stopped once, to glance over the back of some soppy romance novel about two people who think they’re destined to be together in the last two chapters. I’m not like that. I’m just glad you set that one back down.
I may not be as pretty as the others. They all have flashy covers stating that their author was a New York Times bestselling author. Like they all can be. I don’t have a nice dust jacket. It’s just my sage-green hardcover with my two roses engraved. My title isn’t even on the spine. Not my choice, but I still try. Many fingertips have pulled me out and flipped through quickly. They don’t notice all of the notes in my margins or the underlined sentences. They don’t acknowledge the tear stains in my second-to-last chapter. My broken spine and my corners bent down to mark the page. They just put me back.
My home is a used bookstore. On the fiction shelf, I’m above eye level, looking down at the people walking in and out of the wooden door with the gold plating. The soft ting of the bell above the door is a constant reminder that I’m stuck here. I sit between a tall book based on some battle in World War II and a Shakespeare play. I’m always second pick to Shakespeare, but I’m waiting to be grabbed by someone who’s ready to love me. I’ve been folded and marked on. I’ve been cried on and even thrown. I’d rather be thrown than spend any more days collecting dust.
Your finger glides across the covers, slowing down towards my spine. Your fingertips brush over me, sending tickles through me. I finally leave the shelf and open for the first time in months. I can feel my pages rustle and my spine is finally cracked again. I can hear you mumble my words into the empty store. I’m enjoying the fresh air when you slam me shut. Ouch. Why so early? Am I not good enough? You haven’t even read a chapter. Don’t judge me too quickly. Please.
I was waiting to be stuffed back into the shelf, next to Shakespeare and his gloating face. But you held me to your chest and continued to move down the shelves. I’m free. I finally get to tell my story again, hear the laughs and the cries. I get to be loved again. My words will be appreciated. Starting over at chapter one.