By Dan Leicht
He was the only one browsing the bookstore. He wasn’t sure the policy on walking around with his coffee, but they sold it there so he thought it okay. He was in the fantasy section, on the upper level, scanning the pages of a book he’d managed to already spill a drop on, when the doors opened and a young woman walked in. Her clothes were soaking wet and as she stepped further into the store she left a slippery path behind her.
Everyone who worked there gawked with peculiar stares. There were plenty of windows and each of them shown the sun brightly glaring through.
“Ma’am,” called out one of the cashiers. “Ma’am!”
He stepped over to the railing, resting his open book on the metal barrier, his fingers still pinched between the pages, and looked down at the cause for such commotion. She didn’t speak as the other employees began to circle her, each one curious as to where she’d come from. He fumbled his book in his hand for a moment when he raised his coffee for a sip. He raised the book up to find where he left off and then looked back at the woman.
She looked up and locked eyes with him, catching him off guard and sending his heart into a race in an effort o get his bearings. She stepped forward as everyone around her tried to convince her to halt, or at least tell them how she’d managed to get drenched on a warm summer’s day. She made her way to the staircase.
“Ma’am, please tell us what’s going on,” pleaded one of the employees, standing at the base of the staircase with his arms outstretched.
She pointed to the man looking down at her. The employees all cocked their heads upward, those who could raise a single eyebrow did so.
Curious as to what she intended to do the employee stepped aside.
He sipped his coffee as he waited, glancing up and down from his book.
“Soaking wet from the day’s heavy rain…”
She was getting closer.
“…she entered the haven of the lost.”
He looked up from the page into her eyes. Her eyes were like muddled galaxies, green spiraling into brown that bled into glossy black. He found himself drifting from one galaxy to the other, his attention caught between competing consciousness of existence.
“Can I help you with something?” he asked.
She opened her mouth, but no words escaped her lips. He tried to make out the words she mouthed.
“Booook? Uhh, weeeehhh, weeeeeht?”
She nodded and pointed to the book in his hand.
“Oh, that? That was an accident I swear.” He poked his head over her shoulder and looked at the huddle of employees. “I’ll buy the book I promise.”
She smiled and nodded her head in a dramatic manner. She turned around and meandered between the confused readers, a slick trail in her wake.