Grey clouds were covering the city; a slight drizzle was beginning to fill the air as the writer jerked up his coat around his neck and held his leather briefcase closer to his body. Looking up at the sky through glasses that had come along about the time he’d divorced his wife (there were things he simply refused to see, hence the waning eyesight), he grunted and hurried toward the small bakery and café on the corner.
The bell on the door chimed as he entered, but he was unable to hear its cheerful sound, caught up in ambitions and thoughts about his recently finished book. It seemed he was always fighting a fight against himself for some reason unknown to him.
“May I help you?”, said the waitress at the counter.
“Um, yes”, he grunted while his left hand rummaged his pocket for change.
“An egg sandwich and a black coffee, thank you.” The waitress took a sandwich from the glass case, put it on a white plate and handed it to him. “Here you go, sir. I’ll be right down with your coffee.”
“Thank you”, he said and set off with the sandwich in one hand and his briefcase in another to find a seat.
At a window facing the street he found a round table. A candle was burning in its glass holder. As he settled in thoughts began to stir; perhaps it was this darn gloomy weather, he thought. But nonetheless the thoughts kept coming.
What was he doing writing books that no one seemed to read? Perhaps the topic was off-interest to a modern capitalistic society. Perhaps he should simply give it up? He let that last thought hang in the air for a little while. Maybe.
The waitress then appeared with his coffee and for a while he sat and simply looked out the window.
Then he saw a newspaper lying in the windowsill. Yesterday’s newspaper. What the heck, he thought, perhaps there’s something interesting in there. Eating his sandwich, drinking his coffee and flipping through the newspaper he found that he began to enjoy himself. Began to relax. Simply sitting there, on that corner café, with a simple meal, a warm drink, yesterday’s newspaper was magic. But then something else… magical happened. An article about literature found him. A Spanish writer had recently been at a literature festival in the city where he’d talked about his new book. A book about various “no-writers” that in one way or another had given up their writing. The book apparently mentioned that the ways of being self-destructive as a writer (according to some examples it “came with the territory”) were both plenty and imaginative. Everything from a death in the family to a lack of imagination.
The writer closed the paper. With a sip of coffee, he reflected upon his own behavior. Had he not been travelling down that road recently? The road of self-destruction? Perhaps the question wasn’t that much where he was going (was there really anywhere to go?) but more a question of how he was going. Then the question became: was he living his life? Was he being true to his heart? The answer came promptly: no.
How then could he change it?
As an answer something across the street caught his eye; a green, wooden sign seemed to light up. But not from an external light, a light that seemed to come from within. The writer was fascinated! He knew he had to investigate; the five-year old magician within him suddenly awakened.
As he began to put his jacket back on and gather his belongings, he read the letters on the green sign. The English Bookshop. He smiled at the words. He’d always had a fascination of books, a love, even. Answers to all his questions had always seemed to call to him from within their covers.
As he crossed the street he noticed that string lights of different colors adorned the upper façade of the shop. Soon Christmas would be here, he noted.
The writer took a look in the windows of the bookstore. Books filled the room from top to floor, from one end to another and in the middle of the room were even more books, piled on top of wooden tables.
Entering through a side door he encountered the keeper of the books, to some called a bookseller, a round man wearing a blue sweater and sand colored pants. Friendly eyes observed him through glasses as he said “hello”. A warm yellow glow seemed to surround the book keeper. Odd, he thought but replied “hello” and turned his attention toward the shelves and tables of tales.
So many books. So many voices. So many lives. He wondered what books would last? Which would survive the test of time? As an answer the books went silent. All except one. (He’d never noticed before that the books actually spoke.) Yet, this was a different kind of language. As before with the sign, it was a language that came from within.
The one book that spoke to him was one that lit up at the bottom of a shelf. Above the shelf the sign “classics” hung.
He did not recognize the book, but as he lifted it from the shelf he noticed that it had a beautiful, intricate cover. It’s name was “The Blue Fairy Book”. A book of fairy tales.