I wandered through the book store — it’s too big to really feel cozy and welcoming, but since it’s what I’ve got, I’ll take it. There were so many people there, haphazardly plunking books into shopping bags and shuffling to the cash registers. I sauntered. I had nothing better to do, really, and being there, surrounded by nameless faces and countless books felt comforting.
I wish I enjoyed colouring more. Those adult colouring books look so pretty. But I don’t have the patience for that. My mom used to say that I did everything faster than she could. I used to think, speak and move so quickly, with little patience. But I guess things change as we get older. So many things change. My speech has slowed, and I enunciate more. I take in the sights, and I am far, far more patient. But not for colouring. No thanks. But still, I think my mother would love one of those so I tuck one into my shopping bag and carry on.
Wandering back to the youth fiction section, I found the book I was there to buy. And that’s when she spoke, softly:
I can’t remember which series I bought the girls last year.
Oh, don’t you just hate that? So frustrating. That one you’re holding was one of my favourite books as a child.
The books we read as children are so full of magic, aren’t they?
I smiled at her, and we carried on our conversation.
It was just a few minutes in an otherwise uneventful day, but those moments were so wonderful. This complete stranger told me how she’d spent so much time at SickKids as a child, and how a family member brought her The Chronicles of Narnia series and she’d read them all as fast as she could from the bed with scratchy bleached and starched sheets.
What’s that book you have there?
Oh, Land of Stories, book four. For my daughter, she’s nine and she loves this series.
Buy her this, too.
I tucked the copy of A Wrinkle in Time into my bag.
She’d been a teacher, and had bought all the Magic Treehouse books for her classroom, and loved seeing her students devour the books.
Once a teacher, always a teacher.
I nodded, and we laughed about being able to spend all day in bookstores, and never being bored.
My dream as a child was to be locked up in the library overnight. I wanted to sneak up to the adult section because I had read every book in the children’s section so many times by age ten.
I told her how my father read The Hobbit to me when I was just five years old, and how I still think he did the best Gollum voice ever.
I wandered away and finished my shopping, and when I finally went to check out, she was behind me again, somehow.
I can tell you are a special one. I hope you never lose your magic.
It was her who was magical, though, not me. There’s so much magic in our world, if we just let ourselves find it.