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.