Art and the philosophy of life

IMG_2723Edith had only been working at the Book Lovers Emporium for a week before she gave up and let the books have their own way.   Now, six months later, she’s letting the entire shop do as it pleases, since things run quite smoothly without her intervention.  She has no idea who’s making the coffee and tea in the morning and if there is a certain way the books are shelved, she doesn’t know what it is.

The walls in the main Reading Room are painted wedgwood blue, although they do change color, now and then.  The windows seemingly go from the floor to the ceiling but since no one can actually see the ceiling there’s no way to be sure.  And it doesn’t matter whether it’s sunny, raining, day or night, the lightening in the room is always the same…early morning on a sunny, summer day.    Some of the other rooms are paneled in richly colored woods but the “blue” room, as she has come to call it, is her favorite.  Almost all of the rooms open into one another, some in a straight forward kind of way, others at weird angles and in strange places.  Several are separated by beautiful French doors, others by beaded curtains or a bit of gauze or silk.  Heavy, dark tables in each area are stacked with tomes,  their covers tattered and threadbare from use.  There are a bevy of soft, comfortable armchairs in cozy corners and nooks, throughout the entire shop.  And, a solid brass tube that starts somewhere, ends at front counter.  Orders from different time periods slide through the tube and land in an IN box.  Edith fills the orders and sends them back by a different tube.  She thought it strange at first, but now she knows that it’s just the easiest and best way to do business with out of time and place customers.

Unusually things are always happening at the shop so Edith wasn’t the least bit surprised when she found a pearl earring on the floor.   She sighed and looked at the oil painting hanging over the table in the next room.  The Girl with the Pearl Earring was earringless, once again. It wasn’t the first time the girl had dropped it.   Almost every time she comes out of her picture, whether it’s to return a book or just chat for a while, it falls off her ear.  Edith has to admit that the artwork in the shop is rather rambunctious.  Framed maps constantly update themselves, in order to stay current, and many of the paintings change places with each other when they get tired of looking at the same thing all the time.

Edith is always delighted when the stars appear where the ceiling might be.  They are quite beautiful and no one knows how they get there, or where they go when they leave.  But everyone in the shop enjoys them and people are always looking up to see if they are there.

The cats are more than willing to climb the shelves and throw down a book or two, when they can catch them.  They started hanging around the main counter where Edith always has a large vase fresh flowers, carnations mostly, but sometimes there are flowers she can’t identify, even after trying to look them up.  She doesn’t know how the flowers get there, she simply wished she had them one morning and they have been showing up ever since.  The counter is also adorned with a lovely antique blotter and pen and ink set made from sterling silver that never tarnishes.  The inkwell remains constantly full and the nib on the pen holds just the right amount of ink.  The ink changes color automatically, depending on what it is called upon to write.

The sleeping gentlemen turned out to be Walt Whitman. Edith thought he looked familiar, when she first saw him, but she hadn’t been sure.  He often reads poetry to her when things are slow.  Jane Austen drops by regularly and told Edith that if Mr. Darcy looked like the Mr. Darcy of today, she would have married him herself.  Ayn Rand isn’t well liked by some of the other visitors.  It’s been said that she’s rather selfish and hogs the books the others are looking for.  Fortunately, her visits are rare.

The Science Fiction area is full of whirling things and strange looking mechanical devices.  But it’s extremely interesting and the people who visit and borrow books are absolutely brilliant.  They discuss grand ideas and hope that the future will be better than the past.  The door has a bell that plays the theme from Star Trek when it’s pushed.

The Women are Powerful Room is sometimes crowded with suffragist leaders who meet with the radical feminists of today.  They can get rather loud at times, but they laugh a lot and always share the cake they bring to their get-togethers.

The Equality Space is never big enough for meetings.  No matter how many chairs the room provides, there are never enough places to sit.

The Writers’ Room is usually quiet when it’s  in use and it’s almost always in use.  Famous authors toil away with pen and ink or old fashioned typewriters, while the more up-to-date authors use laptops or futuristic  hand held silver cubes that write their thoughts as they think them.

The Occult area keeps drifting in and out of focus.  Tarot card readings are given daily for anyone wishing to know the future.  Crystals are everywhere and people have to be careful where they step, so they don’t break any magic circles that are currently in use.  Strange chanting often floats out from underneath the door and sounds, never heard on earth, can also be heard every now and then.

Physicists are forced to climb a tall circular staircase to get to their appointed area.  Feynman and Oppenheimer stop by regularly and Hawking has put in an appearance or two.  Heated discussions, lasting well into the night, sometimes spiral out of control and the room starts to spin.  When that happens, everyone tries to calm down until things stop moving and falling down.

The Music Hall is in a large turret, soundproof as can be, but the musicians often leave the door open so great symphonies from the past can be heard clashing with music made by those from the future.  Fortunately, there is a switch that can be flipped which puts the entire room into a bubble from which no sound can escape.  That way those who enjoy peace and quiet can nap, read or continue with their research..

The Arts are in a space that is a combination of book shelves and mirrors.  It’s a place where ballet dancers can be seen twirling with Sammy Davis Jr., while photographers, twisted in limb-defying poses, work to get the perfect picture.  Meanwhile, artists are busy dabbing at brightly colored paints, with worn brushes as they tap their toes in time with the music.   Singers harmonize and write lyrics while eating tofu burgers with a side of Martian cold slaw and believe me, it’s very cold slaw.  After eating it you can’t taste anything else for twenty-four hours.

The fact is, that fully furnished rooms appear whenever the need arises.  The rooms politely fold themselves into a different dimension when not in use.  It’s quite convenient, actually.

And when someone asks for a certain book, it’s not at all unusual to see that book hurl itself directly at the person who requested it. Books will leap over banisters and fall from shelves that are too high to see, just to get to the person who needs them.  No money ever changes hands and people come, go and often stay for days at a time.  Edith herself, no longer leaves the shop.  The outside world is of no interests to her.  And the only time she stops smiling is when the Cheshire Cat is around. Whenever he becomes visible she puts on a serious face just to tease him.  Slowly, but surely, the shop and Edith are becoming one.  Everyone knows that once you try magic, you can never go back to ordinary.

There is one other thing. Edith found that the bookshop isn’t always in the same time or place. There’s nothing to be done about it, of course, but seeing Neptune float by the front door for the very first time, actually took her breath away and she would probably admit to holding onto the front counter for support. She’s also sure that the shop can be in more than one place at a time, as well.

A few weeks ago, Edith wrote to Matt and told him how happy she is that he dropped her.  If it wasn’t for you, she scribbled, I never would have found my true calling and I certainly never would have been having the adventure of a lifetime, so thank you for everything.

To quote Edith:  “Everyday is a day to look forward to because you never know what’s going to happen next.”

Comments on: "Edith Olive O’ Connor 2, the story continues." (17)

  1. I love this Bling! I would love to see Neptune whirl by! I love the Star Trek theme plays when the door opens! I once asked someone what the perfect world, day, life would look like and I believe with this and the first one this the perfect world’ I want to go here!! Am I here and just don’t know it? No I haven’t seen that Cheshire Cat yet! 😻

  2. Wonderful, Gigi !

  3. Reblogged this on barclaydave and commented:
    Wonderful tale of life on the edge, long may it continue to grow and to write itself into a modern work of art.

  4. Ahhhh…another chapter. Your imagination is enchanting. But none of us have any control over our bookstores……we just think we are in charge of our life stories. This could easily be a campy movie. Artists can see this truth and I think their job is to tell others about it. Oh don’t get me wrong…..I don’t think you should ‘sell’ your work. You already know that’s not your calling. Well I love this bookstore. It’s a bit like my life. 👏

    • I’m so glad you liked it:) I wrote it for you. I think I might have to write more about that place:) It’s really alive for me. Thank you so much for always being so very supportive and kind. “Artists can see the truth and I think their job is to tell others about it.” That is the perfect line. You do that with your amazing art…it’s so very true…it is the job of an artist.

  5. A great sequel! And yes of course once you try magic you can never go back to the ordinary. Loved this whole story top to bottom! Woof!

  6. Yay for Chapter 2 🙂 It just keeps getting better!

  7. What an amazing space. I would love to visit it one day. Beautiful writing Gigi

  8. Oh, thank you. On to part 3

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