Sadie Buys a Book (third revision)

Mr. McCrary’s store is the only place Sadie allows herself to feel. Rather than go home to an empty house, blogging and surfing the internet until her mother gets home from nursing school, Sadie prefers to spend some afternoons buried somewhere between the Fantasy and poetry sections.

“Hello, Sadie. How was school?” though there are gaps in his smile, the bookseller grins hard. He cleans his glasses on an old wool coat, looking pensive at the still-smudged glasses.

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 the strange looks the other students give her. They come from a very different place than she does. Their lives are a battle between dinner time and the mall. Her life is caught between loneliness and a book.

“School is okay. We’re studying Lord of the Flies.”

“Really? How are you liking it so far?”

“The kids in the book are annoying, but I kind of like Simon. He seems like he’s the only one taking things seriously.”

“Simon. I like Simon. Very quiet boy, though. He needs to speak up a little if people want to take him seriously.” He pushes up his glasses. Sadie lowers her face and smiles. She likes how Mr. McCrary talks about book characters like they’re real people.

Sadie finds herself wearing her smile, even after she retreats behind a bookshelf. She quickly removes it from her face, not wanting to look like some grinning idiot. What if someone saw her standing in the aisles smiling? They’d think she was crazy! They’d probably be right…

Sadie wanders through 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. Eventually, 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 walks it to the counter. Mr. McCrary smears his glasses again on his coat.

“I’d like this one,” Sadie says, turning it upside down so he can’t read the title. Her heart leaps as he automatically turns it over to read.

“Taking your first big leap, eh?” She averts her eyes from the old man’s incomplete smile. “Don’t worry. It’s on the house.”

“Really?”

He nods.

“Thank you.” Sadie, thankful that he didn’t open the private book/journal, swipes it up and marches out the door. She clutches the book close to her breast, making up a story in her head about the person that wrote the messages and how she would take care of her, and love her, and understand.

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3 Comments

Filed under FEATHERTON III, Flash Fiction

3 responses to “Sadie Buys a Book (third revision)

  1. shortnmorose

    wow. totally forgot about this story! love it and i definitely love the ending … dont’ remember that part in the original. would love to see sadie fleshed out a little more!! and to see where this book goes as well!

  2. libertad

    I like this story. The way Sadie buys a book seems a bit unusual. The ending seems a bit open so I think this is an Eva Luna type of story. Eva Luna is a collection of stories by Isabel Allende that were written as short stories that stand by themselves, but together they complete a novel. I think you can do anything with this story. You could leave it like this and keep us wondering or you can expand it into a series of stories that together make up a longer story.

  3. Sadie lives in the secret world of books, where she feels at home, and where the adult “gets” her and respects her difference because he shares in the secret brotherhood of bookdom. She finds a book called “Jump” which has a double meaning of suicide vs. taking the jump to put one’s self out there to overcome social anxiety. She’s embarrassed to buy the book, but the storekeeper accepts her and doesn’t judge. She changes, resolving to understand care for the person who wrote the messages in the book.

    I think the story is pretty tightly narrated, so I don’t have much in terms of suggestions except:
    1) The ending confuses me because I thought she wanted to buy the book to overcome her own social anxiety but instead she buys it to deepen her compassion for the human condition. Either option would work, but if you wanted to keep the current ending, perhaps give one more hint in the story, something to the extent that she thinks about what it means to be human a lot whereas her classmates discuss their ipods and what they will wear to the movies on Friday night.

    2) Change the old man’s statement to her when she buys the book. Make it less so that he’s not condescending to her because we know that the old man respects her. Maybe he just lowers his glasses a bit and gives a knowing smile but just fakes knowing and says, “Jump huh? Never heard of it.” OR maybe, to add a conflict, she finds the book in a “defaced/unsellable” pile, and the old man was going to throw the book out, but she speaks up to buy the book, but then he pretends to resist her, “Oh you wouldn’t want this, it’s got writing all over it,” so she is moved to conviction and dramatically saves the book. Thus, the act of saving the book would be symbolic of her internal change and her goals.

    I remember this story and I remember liking it because the bookstore owner recognizes her process of change, but Sadie doesn’t recognize it (yet), and the book mirrors her state of mind. Sadie’s voice is very strong, consistent, and likable, a shy quiet girl, out of place (like Simon from LOTF) because she ruminates on deeper issues of the human condition than her peers.

    I found the description of Sadie’s discovery of the book perfect at captivating my interest, and at the end of the day, I really hope things turn out well for this girl.

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