Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Novel / Chapter » Fantasy

E - Everyone

The Book Man, Chapter 14 (Revised)

by BlueAfrica


14 THE LIBRARY

When he had got a little ways past the maze, Christian found a spot along the cobblestone path where climbing roses sent tendrils weaving up a white trellis ahead. He supposed he had missed it the night before because of his hurry to reach the herb garden; past the trellis, the path dead-ended in a pleasant sitting area rather than leading any farther.

Christian paused to inhale the scent of the climbing roses bending their heads to him as if in greeting. His skin prickled. He felt the magic of the park was even greater beyond the trellis. He tightened his grip on his book and went through it.

Before him the pathway split and went around either side of a pool. In the center of the pool was a stone pedestal with water spraying up from it, and swimming around it was a mermaid with dusky purple hair and wide eyes the color of lilac blossoms. Her scales flashed silvery-mauve in the light of the gas lamps as she glided through the water. Christian watched her for a while, entranced, until she saw him and darted behind the stone pedestal for cover. He reddened and sped past the pool, not noticing that she peeked out from behind the pedestal to peer at him as he went by.

Beyond the pool, the path widened to a courtyard, and sitting in the place of honor at its center was a park bench. Behind it was another empty pedestal, a long one of white marble. Christian spared it a glance and then sat on the bench to read his book and wait for Minerva.

He was so engrossed in Bilbo’s woes at the unexpected party that he did not see her come up the path to gaze at him as he read, nor did he hear her footfalls on the cobblestones. But at last, in his periphery, he became aware someone was there, standing before him. His heartbeat quickened as he looked up and saw her.

“Oh, hello,” he said, shutting the book.

She smiled. “Is it the same one?”

“Yes,” he said.

The earthenware pitcher was balanced on her shoulder, but she set it on the ground beside the bench. “Would you read it to me?”

“Of course,” he said.

They sat together on the bench; Minerva adjusted the skirts of her tunic about her legs. Christian opened the book and began to read aloud from the beginning. For a while his voice trembled as he read, for he was painfully conscious of her eyes on him as he did so, of her thigh almost touching his. But as he went on, he lost himself in the book. He did not forget she was beside him, not quite—but his voice took up strength and passion from his love of the story, and by and by he forgot to be nervous.

He had only made it as far as the arrival of the last of the Dwarves, however, when his voice began to falter. He had never spoken for so long at once before—not since he was a child, anyway, and read aloud to his parents for practice. He coughed and continued, but his throat hurt and in another moment he had to stop. He set the book aside, disappointed, but Minerva said, “I’m glad of the Dwarves. Bilbo is too comfortable. They’ll stir him up, I’m sure.”

Christian stared at her.

“Well, yes,” he said hoarsely. “I still can’t believe you’ve never read it.”

Minerva was silent for a moment. Then she asked, “May I show you something?”

The accountant blinked and polished his glasses on his shirt, but at last he said, “Of course.”

She laid a hand on his wrist and led him to the trellis, where the roses curled up to wrap around the white wooden lattice. Minerva studied them, tracing her lips with a finger. Then she reached out and touched one of the rosebuds.

For a moment, nothing happened. Then the vines and leaves and thorns and petals peeled back to reveal a slender book. Christian peered into the shadowy darkness of its nest to see the title. It was The Little Prince. He laughed a little to himself, remembering how he’d thought of it when he’d first met her because of the way she clung to questions.

She touched another rosebud, and there was the same peeling back, and another book was revealed, a battered copy of Walk Two Moons. Then followed three more books: a copy of Pride and Prejudice that looked like it had been printed in the early 20th century; a volume of poetry by William Wordsworth, which was faded and yellowed (though not as old as the Austen novel); and a copy of Prodigal Summer that looked brand-new. That was it.

Minerva laid the books on the cobblestones and watched Christian as he examined them. She seemed to be awaiting his judgment.

He fingered the volumes, a slight smile touching his face as he felt the crumbling pages of one, the glossy cover of another. He had read them all at different points and remembered perfectly the first time for each. The Little Prince, a birthday present he’d read in the darkness of his bedroom when he was a small child, enjoying the tale and the taste of the words; now he read the original translation to keep up on his French. Walk Two Moons in primary school with his class; he’d been frustrated with the teacher assigning only ten pages at a time and finished the book during his lunch period the day it was introduced. Wordsworth’s poetry at university, where he’d loved “Ode” so much he bought an entire collection of the poet’s works.

The smile was still faintly visible on his face when he turned back to Minerva and saw her watching him with a crease between her eyebrows.

“Well?” she asked, but he didn’t know what she meant.

“This is my library,” she said.

Her library? Christian looked back at the five tomes laid out before him. He could not imagine having only five books to read. She seemed to guess his mind, for she said, “I cannot leave the park. I know only the books my visitors leave behind when they go. In more than one hundred and fifty years, these five are the only books that have been forgotten in the gardens.”

How she could know which books had been left in the park for the last hundred and fifty years, Christian did not know. She was so young, younger than him to judge by her clear skin and dark hair. Perhaps she, like Conrad, was kept young by the magic of the park. But he passed over the thought in a moment, fixated on the horror of her only having read five books—only knowing of five books. Six, now, he thought, glancing at his copy of The Hobbit, which was still clutched in his hand.

Minerva placed each book back in its hiding spot and watched the roses wind around it. Then she and Christian walked in silence back to the bench and sat together. After a while she said, “There are a great many more books in the world than this, I suppose.”

“Yes,” he said, “millions.”

“Millions?” She laughed. “I can’t imagine so many books as that. I can hardly imagine more than the six I’ve seen.”

Christian thought of the Book House, over the wall and across the street. “My entire house is made of books.”

“Really?” Minerva asked, and he nodded.

“Maybe you could come see it, someday.”

She gave a smile as brief as a summer storm.

“I would like that,” she said, “but I cannot leave the park.”

He had forgotten. He cast about for words and said, “Then I’ll bring you books. A new book every night, if you want. Here.”

He pushed The Hobbit into her hands. She turned its pages, listening to the rustle of the paper and breathing in its scent.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“I want you to have it,” Christian said.

She gave a bright grin that seemed too wide for her face. Then she said, “But you will finish reading it to me, won’t you?”

“Of course,” Christian said.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
1007 Reviews


Points: 13831
Reviews: 1007

Donate
Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:44 pm
View Likes
TimmyJake wrote a review...



Timmy here!

I just noticed one thing in common with all of your reviewers. They all have more reviews than I do. All of them. It means you have attracted the reviewers that have been around for a while, and only review works that they truly enjoy.

You have a rare gift, Blue. I wish I could tell you in a way you could fully appreciate my words, and in a way that you could fully understand them. But anyway, you have a rare gift of storytelling. A gift of telling us this tale in a way that not only is so original, but also sucks me in. I can truthfully tell you that I have not seen a YWS novel--sorry, read--that has pulled me in and coerced me to review this far. I have kept up with reviewing, little bits at a time (although never 14 chapters), but never one every day. And you have kept my attention riveted to this book, and your characters.

Oh, your characters. They are so perfect. And by being not perfect people, they are perfect. I hope that made sense. xD Anywho, your characterization is amazzzing. I love Minerva so much! Her character is so, so. Aggh! Why does everything have to be perfect? Unfortunetely, there are no synonyms for perfect, Blue. You must get used to hearing that. :D Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes--Minerva. This is the second time I have met her, the first time being a fleeting hello before Christian had to leave again. Last time he was in a rush. This time he was able to come and enjoy himself. Come and see Minerva for what she was, rather than just a means of getting the right herbs. I mean, the first time he saw her, he was like, Woa! This is one cool gal! But in this chapter, we saw more into her person. Her character. What she does, and what she is like. I loved, loved how she only had five books, because that not only meaned that she was sheltered from the world outside, but she treasured those books. And now she has six. Good job, Christian. You might make her happy, someday. :) Don't tell me that isn't how the ending is gonna be. <.< If you twist that inevitable outcome, I will be verrrry angry with you. :D

The way you describe her isn't the norm in a female protagonist character. Normally, people attempt for the "hot" look, where when someone looks at them, they go, She's hot. I didn't get that with Minerva. Instead, I kind of got the thought that this is a beautiful woman, kind of like a rose. But a rose that never wilts. I hope that I got it right, because that is totally the image I received of her. :)

he had to stop.He set the book aside,


Erm, yesh. That is a nitpick for this kind of book. You forgot a space there. :)

pedestal to peer at him as he went.


Went... where? I think "by" would make a nice sentence closure there.

Wordsworth’s poetry at university


Totally preference, but I think that since you had a title for the others and italicized them, you should do the same herrrree. :)

Okay. That is all I have on this piece for nitpicks. Sorry if they were scattered throughout the piece, and not in order. I had to read this piece over and over and over in order to find even these tiny nitpicks.

Because this is one hell of a job well done. :) Amazing work, Blue. I will be at the next chapter soon.
~Darth Timmyjake




BlueAfrica says...


Your reviews bring me girlish joy.



User avatar
1634 Reviews


Points: 67548
Reviews: 1634

Donate
Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:47 am
View Likes
Deanie says...



These chapters are too perfect. I would like them, but I did that before so... All I can say is, this better be published when you're done ;)




BlueAfrica says...


I certainly hope so!



User avatar
1634 Reviews


Points: 67548
Reviews: 1634

Donate
Mon Mar 31, 2014 3:44 pm
View Likes
Deanie wrote a review...



Hey Blue!

The Book Man is getting so much publicity it must be really awesome! I best get cracking with reviewing before all the good people pour in so there is nothing left to say :)

I was surprised here too. Yes, Liza doesn't know where her husband is but wasn't he going to make something up so that she wouldn't worry as much? Like he was visiting far away family for a while or something, and he called Christian? I don't know, I just remember Conrad asking him to make something up. Or, if he didn't it would seem like a plausible temporary solution, so why doesn't he? The poor woman is suffering over there.

It took me a while to figure out why he was socializing with other people. Was it because he didn't want to ask Liza for help? If so, I think you need to make it more clear. From what I gathered at first I thought it was just because being at the park and talking to Minerva had given him a new found confidence in speaking to people. Whichever it is, you should clarify a bit on it, because there should be a reason when a usually shy and quiet person starts socializing a lot.

I hope Christian had his nap - between work, the balloon cart and the park at night he isn't going to be getting much sleep at all. Loved the little girl saying all lady birds need spots. It was a small moment but it special ^^ I like how you introduce small temporary characters for a while sometimes, like Sarah. Although Sarah might still get important later on, I don't know.

Has Christian talked to the Good Magic yet? Wasn't he supposed to being doing that soon? Just warning them about Goblin? I do hope he gets on with it, I thought he was going to do it last chapter. I'll read on and see.

Deanie x




User avatar
613 Reviews


Points: 10450
Reviews: 613

Donate
Sun Mar 30, 2014 9:16 pm
View Likes
Messenger wrote a review...



Messenger here for you again!!!! And I can't wait to see what comes next! I forgot to tell you this last time, but I really like your use of chapters. What I mean is like how you end them at key points to keep us reading, and they just seem to be placed at the right times. Now onto these chapters! Oh also I like you naming your chapters!


He followed her off the bus, determined to avoid her for as much of the day as he could.


He better not get off THAT easy! I'll skin him alive! :)

So he got away did he! Well I'm gonna clobber him myself the dirty rat!!!!!! This chapter was a lot different then I was expecting actually. I thought he would tell Liza SOMETHING at least and the return home to see that the gnome had done something. At least I guessed the balloon-cart part right. :)

I did like the fact that Christian at least made the balloons for the kids, and the little part about the ladybird was cute and sweet. Oh and good ending! I am really excited to see here this is going! I have a feeling something BIG is going to happen tonight! That's about all I have to say!

~Messenger




User avatar
1220 Reviews


Points: 72525
Reviews: 1220

Donate
Sun Mar 30, 2014 4:39 am
View Likes
Kale wrote a review...



Hi. It's me again. This will probably be my last review for the night because I have to wake up early tomorrow and it's already past midnight, whoops, but this review makes an even number TEN, and I like multiples of five.

I'll stop rambling now and actually review this. >.>

Christian blundering into Marketing amused me greatly, and Sarah's completely level and civil reactions just made the situation even funnier. Liza's whole scene, though, was really sad and bitter. I really felt sorry for her, even though I'd only seen her in those few paragraphs, because the way you described her made her feel so real as a person.

Something I've enjoyed so far but haven't yet mentioned is how I like the way each page has a different tone and mood to it while at the same time, retaining the same sort of feel throughout it. I'm not sure how to describe it, but even though there are different characters featured in each section and different narrators for the stories, all the pieces feel cohesive and coherent, and that they belong exactly where they are.

I kind of dread and look forward to reviewing these chapters of yours because on the one had, they are so lovely to read, but on the other hand, I don't really have much else to say except variations of "OMG I LOVE THIS WRITE MOOOOOORE".

And with that, I'm out for the night. XD




User avatar
933 Reviews


Points: 4306
Reviews: 933

Donate
Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:34 am
View Likes
Iggy wrote a review...



Wait wait wait.

This is set in England? I seriously didn't see that coming. I mean, I'm preeeetty sure you aren't British, so I assumed this was set in America. xD But by googling Celadon Park, I see it has a few varying locations? Anyways, shocker for me. Onto the review!

So Conrad better get his butt home, and get home ASAP. He's got a lot of explaining to do to that poor woman! I feel more sympathy for her than I do for Conrad >_> he's gotta tell her the truth. I mean, he told Christian. Well, he didn't have a choice, since he was injured, BUT STILL SHE'S YO WIFE, MAN.

I foresee a divorce coming along >__>

Anyways, I love that I now know what he does for a living. Account does not seem like his cup of tea xD I love all of the silly excuses and acts he does to avoid Lisa. I love how out of character it was and how flustered it made him. He just keeps getting cuter and cuter <3

The fact that he actually follows through with the balloon-artist promise makes me smile. He's too cute, really. I like how much of an impact Conrad has on those kids and how sad they are whenever he isn't there to make them a balloon. And what's better about those kids is that they are okay with Christian's amateur balloons, because they're just happy to be getting a balloon, right? I'm actually surprised none of the kids asked about Conrad xD it looks like they only care about the balloons. Brats.

Yay, he gets to jump the fence again! But he forgot to eat dinner. D:





It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.
— Mark Twain