The Origins of the Society

“At last”, he said. “We have been waiting for you for a long time.”

The woman felt a chill run through her. The events of the past few minutes had thrown her world upside down.

Recognising the woman was looking a bit perplexed, he offered her a cup of tea. Deciding the bookseller was eccentric but harmless – and hearing the torrent of rain continuing to lash down outside – she accepted.

Considering its age and fragility she thought it safest to leave it on the cash desk for the time being. She found a spare spot on the desk amongst the plethora of paperwork and books of every age, shape and size. With a sigh, she sat in a straight-backed chair upholstered in worn velvet that was placed next to the desk, and watched as the man shuffled back in to the dark alcove. The clink of cups and the rolling boil of the kettle prompted the dog to wander over to the woman, probably in the hope of a stray biscuit.

Books were everywhere, even stacked on the floor to relieve the overflowing shelves. She looked around her trying to find a place to set her wet umbrella where it wouldn’t get anything else similarly soaked and ended up stashing it under the chair, giving herself a mental note to remember to pick it up on her way out. The dampness of the weather outside added to the intensity of the mustiness in the bookshop.

Her handbag rested on her lap, and she reached in to retrieve her phone. A missed call, three texts, a few emails and social media notifications. She was about to open one of the apps to write about what had just happened but she paused, finger paused over the screen.

What would she write, and what was the point anyway? She had confided in only a couple of her closest friends when she joined the Society. Friends she knew she could trust, those who would not judge, pry, or ask too many questions. They knew she would give them updates, little snippets, when the time was right and she was ready to talk.

Everyone else? Well, they wouldn’t take it seriously, thinking she was just having a laugh, hence the secrecy.

With a frown, she locked the screen of her phone and popped it back in to her bag. Her hands tightly clenched the bag’s strap while her feet tapped up and down in a combination of excitement and nervous anxiety. The book – the book! – sat just a couple of feet away on the cash desk.

The dog nudged her for another fuss as the man reemerged with a tray bearing a tea pot, cups, a milk jug and a sugar bowl.

The crockery was old-fashioned bone china, delicate cups and saucers with a pink and green flowery print. Beautifully kept, with not a chip the china was clearly kept for best.

As he poured the tea, she leaned forward eagerly – but what to say, where to start? It would all come blurting out in a right old muddle – best to let the man start by saying what he knew.

A cup was set in front of her; the proffered milk was added, and sugar declined. “You might want some anyway,” he said. “You’ve had quite a shock.” After a moment’s hesitation she realised how light-headed she was and sweet, sugary tea always helped with that.

With shaking hands she picked up her tea; some of it spilled in to the saucer. Embarrassed about her lack of grace, especially during such a momentous occasion, she took a deep breath and told herself to get a grip.

With one hand on her tea cup and the other fussing the dog’s head, she watched as the man finally stopped fussing with the tea things and sat down on the other side of the desk.

The book sat between them. Both looked at it, cup of tea in hand.

Remembering the grunt of greeting she had received when she entered the shop, she realised she might have to start the conversation.

“I have been wanting to read about the origins of the Society for a long time. There are so few people involved in the Society, and not much is written down. There is so much hearsay, verbal history passed from member to member, so it is difficult to know what to believe.”

The man gave a barely perceptible nod, which she took as a prompt to continue

“I can’t believe I found the book here. I mean me! All these years, so many people looking for it, and I found it! Surely people must have looked? Most of the meetings are held in a place only down the road.”

Placing his cup back on his saucer with a gentle tap, the old bookseller gave a wry chuckle.

“That is because they think they know what they are looking for. You, by contrast, kept an open mind.”

“The book finds you.”

The events of this story happen directly after The Second Hand Bookshop.

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mumturnedmom

Distant Voices Closer Footsteps

At first…

They sound distant

The voices

From a distance

You feel safe

Then…

They sound closer

The voices

My heart beats faster, faster, faster

Closer!

The voices become

Until I can hear their footsteps too

Run!

But I can’t

Closer still

Pound pound pound goes my heart

Panic

The footsteps are nearly here

Move!

I need to run

But I cannot.

My feet are stuck –

Frozen.

They are coming!

Jolt.

Awake

Bewilderment –

Relief.

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Prompt word: Distance

mumturnedmom

Gifts Come In All Shapes and Sizes

Gifts can come in all shapes and sizes

Well-chosen, with consideration and care –

Or grabbed from the shelf in last-minute desperation

They can be wrapped in shiny paper and pretty ribbon.

The right gift given can raise a smile –

But will how much do they matter?

 

Gifts can come in all shapes and sizes –

Most give pleasure

But we do not always realise they are there

Or if we do, we may not see them as a gift:

The feeling of spring sunshine on your skin

The flourish of spring flowers in the park.

 

Gifts can come in all shapes and sizes –

Life is a gift.

Sometimes we do not realise how much of a gift life is –

Until our life is threatened.

Every new day is a gift –

Even if some days might not feel like it.

 

Gifts can come in all shapes and sizes –

Things you can give, but not wrap up

In shiny paper and pretty bows –

But they are no less beautiful.

Unconditional love

True friendship

Understanding, no judgement

Acts of kindness, however small.

 

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes.

Do not give to receive, they say.

The best gifts –

The ones you can give, but not buy

Need to be looked after with consideration and care

Given freely, you will then receive.

___________________________

Linking up with Mum Turned Mom – Prompt Word ‘Gift’

 

mumturnedmom

Blur/Focus

Discs slot into place.

Click, click.

Blurry.

Click click.

Blurrier still.

It is dark in here, I feel sleepy…

Focus!

Discs removed.

New discs.

Click, click.

A bit less blurry.

Eh? No, I said A.

It’s not?

Ok, it’s not right then.

More discs.

I need to sneeze.

Better not while they are fiddling with the discs.

Ok, try again.

That’s better.

We are getting somewhere.

One eye obstructed, then the other.

More discs.

More clicks.

Ah, that’s better.

I can focus on those letters now.

A new prescription?

Hmm…new glasses!

Out to browse.

To choose a new image.

There are so many to look at.

Focus.

 

 __________________________________________

 Linking up with Mum Turned Mom – prompt word ‘focus’

mumturnedmom
Prose for Thought

Lasts and Firsts

The last time I

Cuddled you

Felt you

Smelled you

Read to you

Sang to you

Saw you

The last time I indulged in a bath was when you were in my belly.

Thoughts of things that happened last year

Are a way of keeping connected to you, my dear.

 

The first time since you I

Smiled

Laughed

Read a book

Listened to music

Did something, just for me

Writing, writing, writing

Had a bath

The bath: a chance to relax, to be

Do not read too much in to these

A smile, a book, a bath

These are ways of surviving the aftermath.