Solidarity and Feline [On the Record]

It was that time of the year again. Every spring rain season made this place feel like a prison. I’m thankful that there were no visible leaks, but it didn’t mean I could avoid panic mode. The humidity was off the charts, once again, and I’d rather not have anything get wet. I didn’t even know where to store the books still on this shelf for the next few days, waiting for this rain to let off. Perhaps a box, a cardboard one. I could stuff everything in there, get them out of the way for a while. It wasn’t like anyone was around to miss them. Those people up in the shopping district have that aplenty; I just needed to ask.

I didn’t really want to.

I decided to put it off, if just for a bit. I needed a breather. I wasn’t used to this. Sure it happened every year, but usually I’d have another worker to help. This had been the first year when the number of employee had reduced to only one. I wouldn’t even have minded if the only thing I needed to do was the usual: keeping watch and reading books. Nobody ever came around. Nobody had in a while. I didn’t mind. I just wanted to read books. As much as I enjoyed the solace, though, it didn’t pay bills. This place was rotting. I couldn’t stay here forever. Maybe I’ll donate this place as a public library and move somewhere else. Maybe I’ll try to get non-profit investors involved, revitalise the place and actually be competitive.

I didn’t really want to.

I sighed, and went back to the desk. “I am a Cat”. I chuckled. It had been a solid twenty years since I read it for the first time. I’ve gone and read more advanced, more global things since then, but this remained my favourite. I remembered receiving it from my grandma as a birthday gift. It didn’t make sense back then, but I was also only five at the time. It was long. It was intimidating. It was also silly. Whoever heard of a talking cat writing a novel? I didn’t want to admit it when I was growing up, but I’ve never finished this book until much later, until after grandma had died. As I did, I laughed, then I cried. It didn’t take much for me to cry when I was younger. I used to be a spoilt kid. Maybe I still was; people just stopped saying it to my face. Regardless, the book was still there, smiling at me, inviting.

I didn’t really want to.

Money was running out. No parents, no friends, and no business. If I lost this place, I’d have nothing left. I had to do something.

A book dropped off a shelf. I didn’t know what book, or what shelf, but I knew it happened. This was what I do every day, after all, picking up books and placing them back. It might not sounded so miserable should I had some customers to appreciate this much effort. I didn’t take my dad seriously when he told me the bookstore opening up inside the shopping district was going to destroy our business. On reflection, the man was wrong about many things, but not this one. I could have admitted it.

I didn’t really want to.

Still, I couldn’t be so bold as to lie to myself, saying that this was fine. It wasn’t. Arranging books didn’t make money. Maybe it did somewhere, but not here. This town was outgrowing my little slice of history, and there was nothing I could do about it. What would happen if one day it grew into a major city? I wonder if anyone would look at this – presumably deserted by then – site and wonder what establishment used to occupy such a location. My parents would definitely be remembered, as this store was actually in the tourist brochure up until a few years back. No one would miss me though.

“Hello?”

I snapped to attention. I heard someone, and it was definitely not the voice in my head. It was foreign, in many ways, blended with excitement and a degree of reserve, along with a distinct tone of femininity. Maybe it was a tourist that got lost. That would explain the English. Maybe it was customer. The thought made me undoubtedly enthusiastic. It had been a long time.

Still, if it was a customer, she would simply be a drop in the bucket. It wouldn’t be enough to do anything with, and I couldn’t even tell whether or not it was worth it for me to come see her.

I just really wanted to.

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