Sadie Buys a Book (revision)

Mr. McCrary’s store is the only place Sadie feels a sense of serenity in her life. Rather than go home to an empty house, blogging and surfing the internet until her mom comes home from her night classes, Sadie sometimes likes to bury herself somewhere between the Fantasy and poetry sections.

“Hello, Sadie. How was school?” the old bookseller grins hard, even though there are gaps in his smile. His glasses are rimmed with dust.

Sadie shrugs. School is school. There’s nothing really great about it, and Sadie learned long ago that if she shut her mouth, she could avoid most of the bad.

She likes to wander around all the shelves running her eyes and fingers over the curvature of their spines, her neck wilting to one side so she can read the titles. Every once in a while, one of these sideways letters will cause her eyes and hand to stay for just a moment. She pauses, intrigued, and dislodges the book from its tight row of friends. The book is called “Jump”. It’s about overcoming social anxiety, but the pages are filled with notes in the margins. “Lies” says the first page. Then on the fifth, a picture of a stick person stabbing another stick person in the face, his head a fountain of inky blood. On page 77, the comment “people die every day” is mirrored by “they’ll never hurt me again” on the other side of the book. The word “HELP” is scrawled all over the pages. Sadie wonders who this book belonged to, whether the owner got the help she needed. If she didn’t, that may be why the book lies in Sadie’s hand today. She takes it to the counter and Mister McCrary stops stocking shelves to help her.

“I’d like this one,” Sadie says, and Mr. McCrary sells her the book. She averts her eyes from the old man’s incomplete smile and paces out the door, clutching the book close to her breast.

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7 Comments

Filed under FEATHERTON SESSION, Flash Fiction

7 responses to “Sadie Buys a Book (revision)

  1. Hmmm, I like the idea of buying a book based on notes someone else left in the margins of a book (though I can’t bring myself to mark up books myself).

    Did Sadie take the book out of pure (and perhaps slightly morbid) curiosity, or was it tied to dissatisfaction/unhappiness with her life? If your intention is to leave the reader guessing, mission accomplished.

  2. soulinmyfist

    I feel like her reason for buying the book is tied to unhappiness/apathy which is shown in the fact that she only feels serenity at this bookstore and in her nonchalant response to the man’s question about school. She relates to whomever wrote the notes, felt for them and “wondered if they got the help they needed.”

    I enjoyed reading this piece, but can’t help but want more. In my mind, I’m asking “Well, so what happens to Sadie?”

  3. “even though there are gaps in his smile. His glasses are rimmed with dust.” – I feel the tenderness of this old bookseller already; the detail of the dust on the glasses makes me smile.

    This piece is very compelling to me and you’ve captured this romantic relationship that this character Sadie has for reading, to put it simply. It is very excellently executed and the way the character develops throughout the whole story is just wonderful and works so well on so many levels.

  4. slayerella

    Story of a girl named Sadie and the day she finds a particular book (or it finds her!) in her favorite bookstore.

    Sadie is very engaging as a character. I can believe she exists, searching out escape and peace in fantasy and poetry. I am curious to know more about her. One thing that had me question: Why on this particular day did she decide to go to a different section? To the psychology or self-help section? To help ground this particular story and make it singular to this day, instead of a slight slice of life in the “One of the Endless Days that Sadie Spends in the Bookstore,” the opening paragraph could perhaps have more details about her home life beyond just being bored waiting for her mom to come home. How old is Sadie? From her reading choices, she could be anywhere from middle-school age to high school. Or she could be in college, home for a summer, with no car and always stuck at home. Perhaps the bookstore is the closest place she could walk to.

    Also, it seems as if a more extensive relationship could be fleshed out between Sadie and Mr. McCrory. If she is always in there – indeed, if she has been going there since childhood – she and he might know each other very well and have an established cadence of meet-and-greet. He might even wonder why she chose that particular book when she usually goes fantasy and poetry. Or maybe Mr. McCrory is new and this adds to her oen sense of unease or disorientation of things not being all right.

    The third-person limited point of view from Sadie’s eyes is effective and consistent. I especially liked the passage where she finds the book—so vivid! The details are great – very specific – and brings the reader right there with Sadie as she finds, peruses and choose the book. It’s a little story itself that I found compelling, wry and intriguing. You might want to revisit the phrase “Every once in awhile…” that brings Sadie to that section. It might be more grounding to just state “Today, she decided to got to Self-Help, something different. That was more in her mood anyway” because that will anchor that moment instead of that initial throwaway phrase that has the reader wondering “Are we still in this particular day or going to a flashback?”

    As rendered, this is a nice piece detailing Sadie’s relationship with books. That book-choosing reads almost like an interactive scene in itself with the book and its unknown prior reader. Really nicely done. To expand into a more complete flash fiction, filling out the contours of why Sadie is in this particular circumstance or mood to choose that book right now and establishing her dynamic with Mr. McCrory at this moment of time could deepen the telling considerably. Thanks for sharing!

  5. ingrid

    after reading this twice i have 2 opinions: 1) you accomplished a lot with a few words, I don’t have a problem with an open ending 2) I’d still like a bit more because I’m curious about what Sadie will discover through that book

  6. awesomepie

    Thank you for the comments. This is an entry I put into Featherton before and I have since edited it. While it definitely needs more work, I still feel like it works best with an open ending. I’ll keep my mind open to alternatives, though. You’ve got me thinking…

  7. Perhaps replace “avoid most of the bad” with a more concrete example?

    Believable character. I also liked the “incomplete smile” of Mr. McCrary

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