Haywire in the Bookstore

bookstore, blog, flash fictionHis gasp brought Charlotte back to her past, decades ago in their sophomore year in college, when a skinny tall boy with too-large ears approached her after their English lit class. They’d been assigned as a team by Professor Rife to write a 10-page thesis paper. (Continuing from last week’s The Bookstore Intruder.)

“Each team must agree upon a book most admired, and then defend it. The goal is to read your paper in class next week and convince the other teams to vote for your book.”

Charlotte shivered in annoyance when the young man found her an hour later in the library.

 “Hi, I’m Andrew,” he began.The Shooting Gallery, bookstore, flash fiction

The Shooting Gallery,” Charlotte responded, not one to savor a conversation.

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, flash fictionWithout skipping a beat, her new teammate retorted, “Pride and Prejudice.”

His reply stopped Charlotte cold. She’d have to canoe more carefully on these treacherous waters. Charlotte’s innocent, blue-eyed expression and shapely figure attracted males like nails to a magnet, but normally she could swipe them away like nasty pests.

“In The Shooting Gallery, Yuko Tsushima writes of the existential loneliness that is the heart of humanity,” Charlotte said with a sneer. “Jane Austen simply writes romance.”

“Without romance, without moonlit love, youth withers into despair, and old age arrives with remorse and regret,” Andrew countered.

Charlotte’s heart leapt into haywire spirals. “Who said that?”Jane Austen, flash fiction

“I did. Just now,” Andrew admitted. “We’ll have a much better chance to win with Jane Austen than with a Japanese short story feminist.”

Sure enough, their collaborative paper won an A and a round of applause from the other students. But no matter, Andrew wooed her with words, not wins. “One day,” he proclaimed, “ ‘my back will sprout a pair of lance-shaped wings….’ ”

“My bookmarked Yuko quote,” Charlotte whispered as they explored each other’s wings, and every other part of their bodies.

But a month later, Charlotte sprouted off, back to the isolated world of Block Island, after her dad’s sudden heart attack and her mother’s losing battle with keeping the family bookstore intact.

Andrew was a dream – another lifetime ago – until now, eons later at the bookstore Charlotte now owned, this lean, bald-headed man’s gasp brought a million questions to the forefront.

“You never came,” Charlotte murmured, her eyes tearing with questions and doubt.

“My wings were clipped,” Andrew tried to explain, the words choking in his throat.

So instead, he walked slowly, gingerly, to the woman he once loved, and held out his hand.

Charlotte took a step backward, into the “A” shelves, and a book fell onto the floor.

Sense and Sensibility.

flash fiction, bookstore, Kauai, Talk Story Bookstore

Flash fiction using the seven words suggested by YOU: shooting gallery (Roy, Back on the Rock); canoe (Diana, Myths of the Mirror); magnet (Merril, Yesterday and Today); moonlight (Michelle, Book Chat); youth (Bernadette, Haddon Musings); haywire (Erik, The Best Advice So Far); bookmark (Anneli, wordsfromanneli).

75 thoughts on “Haywire in the Bookstore

  1. Like Merril, I agree this reads like a screenplay. I can picture it all in my mind, as I did in the movie Beauty and the Beast, who mesmerizes Beauty when she views his floor to ceiling book collection and hears him spouting Shakespeare.

    • Ahhh, you have sleepless nights too, huh? I just got a phone call from a SF friend – 5:30 a.m. her time. I suggested she pick up a good book – or read some blogs. 🙂 Thanks for enjoying my bookstore stories, Gerlinde.

    • I’ll admit, I had a lot of fun with the challenge of explaining more of Charlotte and Andrew’s story, using those seven divergent words! Thank you so much for enjoying. xo

  2. If this is flash fiction, it is fabulous. If this is a sequel to the last week’s story, it is mystical. If this is a romantic story, it is brimming with love that pulls at the strings of a heart. It has the charm of a poem…”attracted males like nails to a magnet, but normally she could swipe them away like nasty pests.”
    Pamela, I marvel at your style of compressing so much within a short story, which bears all the ingredients of a dream dish. Thanks for sharing all those links…my fingers are eager to press at them as my mind races past them.
    “Without romance, without moonlit love, youth withers into despair, and old age arrives with remorse and regret,” how true!! Love your choice of words.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Balroop. Yes, this is a flash fiction sequel of a mystical love story. 🙂 Enjoy the links to the blogs of others – they’re all fabulous. xo

  3. Wow, Pam. I love how you tied Austen’s Sense and Sensibility in at the end. That was awesome. And you did a great job pulling those words into a short piece and have them make perfect sense. Loved it.

  4. I’m glad “haywire” found a home in this clever story. 😉

    I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’m a singer/songwriter. Well, this story in its many elements (right down to the Austen references) reminds me of a song I wrote some years back. I just grabbed it off an old computer I still have and posted it up online, on an old music page I used to use. Figured you wouldn’t mind if I shared it here; it hasn’t seen the light of day in years, so maybe here, it will bring at least a few people some enjoyment:

    It Is What It Is

    • Erik – you are talented in so many ways – but your song/music blew me away. I hope my other readers hit the link to your “It Is What It Is.” If my story DID ever be screen-written for a movie, I’d want your song for the beginning and end of the film. Beautiful.

  5. What a beautiful story. It reminds me of my aunt who was reunited with the man she loved 50 years later, after his wife died. They had a happy ending and married. They had a wonderful marriage in the twilight years of their lives.

    • Thank goodness I found a fascinating book called “The Shooting Gallery.” That phrase would have stumped me if I hadn’t. :-0 So glad you enjoyed it – I certainly had a great time with the challenge. xo

  6. Oh this is so wonderful. You have such a way with words! I loved it. Touching and because of my age, haha, I can relate to lost and rekindled love decades later.

    I recently reconnected with my first love from age 10. Have not seen him since then 1967 …long story.. but we reconnected about three years ago. Sparks still there, attraction in tact. That’s all I am saying ….in public !

    Peta

    • You have kindled my curiosity beyond measure, Peta. I love LOVE stories, and yours sounds like the sweetest one yet. Thankfully I follow your blog, so I get a bit of measure of your love madness. xo

  7. Oh, very interesting Pamela, I love the idea of that story, and you write it very well… a shock indeed! I’m almost fifty myself, the thought of meeting a guy now, someone I remember from my teens… a bizarre moment that would be. But… I did actually, about ten years ago, very briefly, in a kitchen shop, he was a lot older than me, so had aged a lot, but I still recognised him… something about the eyes. Most inappropriate place to bump into an old flame, especially when they are with a woman you suspect is their wife. I never said a word, and neither did he, I left shop before I did! 😉

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