“Who is the “I” and why does that person love people?” he asked.
“This is a bookstore,” she said. “Everyone here loves people, especially people who buy books from us.”
“Oh, so you don’t actually love people, you love their money.”
“We love books and people who love books. We love talking with them about books and hoping the books we sell them will become books they love and want to keep forever. What part of that don’t you GET?”
“I don’t love people,” he said.
“I’m okay with that,” she said, slamming the book he was buying onto the counter.
“Do you love people?”
“Why doesn’t your sign say I HEART BOOKS, instead of people?”
“I just work here. I am not responsible for what the sign says. And that will be twenty-six dollars and eighty cents. Do you want a bag?”
“I love books,” he said.
“I’m happy for you. What about the bag?”
“You’re very sarcastic, and I don’t need a bag.”
“Thank you for both things,” she said. “Here’s your book, now go away.”
“I’ll be back.”
“Hopefully, on my day off,” she said, watching him leave.
“I’m not at all like that guy,” said the next man in line. “So you don’t have to beat up my books, or growl at me.”
“That remains to be seen,” she sighed. “He’s lucky I didn’t hit him with the book.”
“It must be difficult dealing with the public.”
“Sometimes. Most people are very nice. But some think they can bargain on the price of a book, or want things for free. Some treat those of us who wait on them as if we are their servants, or just invisible. They talk on their phones, then complain that we didn’t tell them something, when we actually did…they just weren’t listening.”
“Could you wrap these, please?” he asked, pushing a few books toward her. “They’re for my niece. It’s her birthday.”
“Animal Farm, 1984, Women artists. How old is she?”
“I think I love you,” she laughed.
“She’s a feminist. I take her to demonstrations and rallies.”
“Okay. Now I KNOW I love you. And these are for you?” she asked, pulling a stack toward the register?”
“Ack,” she said. “You’re going to be SOOOOOO disappointed in this one. It’s terrible. You might want to think about not getting it. You’ll love this one, and this one is…mmmm…so-so. This one will hold a special place on your bookshelf. This one, just forget it,” she muttered, taking it out of the pile, and the rest are..okay, if you don’t have anything else to read.”
“Do you rate all the books people buy?”
“Only for special customers who buy fabulous books for their six-year-old relatives.”
“Have you read all the books in the shop?”
“No. Not all of them.”
“Why won’t I like this one?”
“Author changed the main character’s personality and turned him into a wimp and idiot. He was cool and tough, now he’s just pathetic. Added characters that I’d kill off instantly, just to make them disappear from the pages. And this one,” she said, holding up a thin book, “is so dull you would beg it to stop while you walked it to the recycling bin..”
“Wow. What if I told you I was the author.”
“I’d tell you to change jobs.”
“You aren’t the author, are you?”
“No, I am not,” he said, smiling at her. “What do you recommend?”
“Well, from the looks of what your buying, we may have similar taste in some areas. I don’t know what you’ve read, but I can walk you through the aisles and tell you what I liked.”
“That would be great. Maybe we could have coffee in the tiny cafe afterward.”
“Maybe we could.”
“Why do you read?”
“To escape life. That’s why everyone reads, even if they don’t know it.”
“What’s wrong with life?” he asked.
“Can you fly? Do magic? Beat up the bad guys and make sure they stay down? Can you understand animals when they talk? Can you…fall in love forever, or never fall in love and not care, or…”
“I think so. You want to live in a magical world, full of delight, sunshine, wonder and kindness. Fairies and Dragons, I assume?”
“Do you think that kind of world exists somewhere, other than in books?”
“I hope so.”
“I might just be in love with you too,” he said. “Shall we begin in the fantasy section?”
“I don’t see why not,” she said, telling the checker next to her that she was going on a long break.”
“Look as if you might be coming back,” he said, grinning at her, then looking at the guy staring at her.
“Oh, Melvin,” she said, smiling. “You’re such a romantic.”
Melvin blushed and blew her a kiss. “Just leave his order where it is. I’ll make sure the books aren’t re-shelved.”
She kissed him on the cheek, then grabbed a basket and handed it to the guy. “You’ll need this,” she said, excitedly. “Let’s go to the aisles of magic.”