Posted by: Maryann McCullough | May 30, 2012

Story for June 2012

THE READER

by

Maryann McCullough

 

The newly purchased book had remained in its bag on the dresser for three days now. It wasn’t lack of interest that kept it there. There was a ritual to beginning a new book and, while not consciously chosen, the pattern was of many years standing.

It was a first meeting; decorum seemed appropriate when opening the cover for the very first time. Certainly, she felt, a new book shouldn’t be grabbed and gobbled when a few extra minutes were found in a busy day.

She had friends who chose to rush the process in a desire to know the outcome of the story. She couldn’t understand that sprint to completion. Why on earth would one shortcut the pleasure of reading by racing to the end! Her own style even involved a kind of coasting as she approached the final chapters of a favorite book.

The woman savored the slow process of getting inside the heads of the characters she would meet as she moved through the chapters. She was not a person without real people in her life. But her family and her friends expected things of her – availability, acceptance, answers. Those she met in her books imposed no such demands and she enjoyed the respite from responsibility. She carefully would avoid any prejudice potentially born of reading book reviews. Each narrative would by judged by its own words, not those of a literary critic.

The beginning was always an adventure. Whom would she meet? Where would the story take her? What new ideas would be found within the pages? Would she encounter a kindred spirit along the way? It was the promise of what might follow that made the beginning so special.

This was true to who she was: a child who loved the first day of school,  a young woman who favored spring for its promise of new life, a bride certain that today’s love would last a lifetime and now an older woman who rejoiced in the beginning of possibilities which began with each sunrise. The beginnings were the best part. In life, as in book selection, middles can get muddled and endings disappoint, but the beginnings always hold such promise.

 Now, it was time to take her latest selection off the dresser and out of the bag. Her work for the day was completed. It was not a warm sun with a gentle breeze sort of day. Those would always call her, like church bells on Sunday, with book in hand, to the patio.

The day was an uncommonly dreary one with rain and wind replacing the usual sunlit skies. But with a blazing log in the fireplace, a day well suited for a good book.

And would this be a good book?

She prepared a cup of chai tea and unfolded the Irish knit afghan made ages ago by a loving aunt and settled herself – book, tea, and blanket, on the couch across from the fireplace. Then she adjusted the lamp over her shoulder, opened the book to chapter one and read the first sentence “It was bitter cold, the air electric with all that had not happened yet.” She smiled slightly and read it again.  She liked the way the words were put together, the subtle but strong invitation to read the next sentence.

 And so she did.

It was just a beginning, but it was a good beginning. The fire would burn itself out. The remnants of tea would turn cold in her cup. But those remaining pages held a promise for tomorrow. That was a very good thing.

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Responses

  1. The beginning of a new book is always so delicious; I love how the reader savored the moment.

  2. What a wonderful scene, Maryann! This feels like the beginning of a much longer story. You got a novel inside you trying to get out??? Keep writing 🙂


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