Short Story: My Worthy Companion

Endless possibilities, untouched and vulnerable, stare at me from the shelf. Their pages whisper to me, wanting to be read; their melody, music to my ears. The bookstore overflows with variety, with front covers fighting for my attention, just like puppies in a pet shop.

            There is always that one puppy that captivates you more than the others. It lures you in, wanting to know about it. You pick it up and play with it, deciding whether it will be a worthy companion. Out of the hundreds of books fighting for that honour, one had already made a connection. Where was it?

           A commotion distracts my line of thought. Glancing over towards the children’s book section, I see a child desecrate the latest Chuck Barnes Chapter Book with their grubby hands. They salivate over the cover of ‘Sally Mally gets lost in an Alley’! Chuck Barnes, apparently the next Paul Jennings. The award-winning sticker, along with the glowing recommendation quote at the bottom of the cover adds to its appeal.

         ‘Put it down!’ screams the child’s mother. ‘You don’t want to read that rubbish.’

          Arguing in protest, the child aggressively slams the book back onto the shelf. I can almost feel the book’s rejection. My curiosity stimulated, my hand inexplicably moves towards the book and delicately removes it from the shelf. The blurb is actually quite intriguing, while the illustration on the cover is definitely eye-catching. I can see why the child was infatuated with it. This book is not for me; I am searching for another.

           Boisterous teenagers walk into the young adult section. I am impressed to see that instead of their fingers and thumbs typing away frantically on addictive, mentally debilitating apps, they are flicking through a book.

          ‘This looks awesome!’ a boy yells at the top of his voice.

          His voice draws a crowd. They rush towards him, looking over his shoulder to read the blurb. It has them hooked. Cupid has shot a literature arrow through their hearts. Suddenly, up to twelve youths jostle around the shelf to claim their own copy.

           Curiosity has me quietly approaching them and looking over their shoulders. What book could cause such a commotion? I nearly drop the coffee I have been holding onto for the last hour. My pulse quickens, throbbing painfully against my neck. I watch as each of them approaches the counter, clutching firmly to the book they are about to purchase. My hands shake; a tear rolls down my cheek. A euphoric feeling hits me like a sledgehammer. I feel numb yet exhilarated.

            My debut novel was being purchased. I witness a small crowd mingle around my book, the one I share the greatest connection, the puppy in the store that has claimed the most attention. They are captivated with it, playing with its pages, wanting to know more, and now deciding whether to make it their new companion.

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