The Bookstore

Lily almost missed the entrance to the bookstore, tucked away behind the beautiful but unruly mess of shrubs, flowers and vines. She hesitated before pushing the glass door open because she thought she saw the stooped figure of an old woman on the other side, but when she pushed open the door and went inside there was no one there.

“Hello?” she called. “I’m just dropping off a resume, I saw the ad in the paper at the University.”

 

No one answered. Lily pushed her way through the maze of books. There were books everywhere. Books in bags, books crammed on the shelves two rows deep, books stacked in teetering piles, some taller than Lily. There didn’t seem to be any organizing principle, there were just books everywhere. Lily continued towards the back of the store where the main room branched off into two other smaller rooms, each overflowing with more books. She could see another smaller room through one of these rooms, also full of books.

Sun was streaming through one small window, set high above one of the shelves, and Lily gaped at the size of the dust motes whirling around in the single shaft of light. She ran her fingers over the spines of several of the books on a high shelf, recognizing some of her favourites. She continued back through the back rooms, pausing to look at books as she went. The further back in the store she went, the older the books seemed to get, and the more organized. Instead of the bags and haphazard piles of the front of the store, the back rooms, still full to the brim, were full of tidily shelved books, even organized by topic, or in some cases, alphabetically. The dust wasn’t as thick back here either. But there was no other sign of a person having been in this store for quite a while. There wasn’t even a cash register anywhere. She thought about giving up her job search for the day until her eyes fell on a tiny desk in the very back corner of the room. There were two cardboard boxes sitting on the desk, and next to each one was a single yellow post it note. The first box was empty, and its accompanying note said “Place Resumes in Box.” The second box was full of books, and the note next to it said “Please take one.”

Lily took a copy of her resume out of the folder in her purse and placed it in the first box. She went over to the second box and started looking at the books inside. She quickly pushed aside the colourful, new-looking paperbacks on the top, and began opening and reading the first few pages of each of the others. There was a slim volume of poetry by Adrienne Rich, a copy of Hamlet, and one of Mrs. Dalloway. There was even an ancient looking copy of Beowulf. Lily pondered for a while and chose the Mrs. Dalloway. It had been on her to-read list for a while. She tucked the book into her backpack and headed back out to the front of the store. She reached out to push the door open and stopped short. In the thick layer of dirt on the window, a message had been scrawled.

 

WELL CHOSEN. YOU START MONDAY.

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