Flash fiction exchange will be back in January - but this is one of the postcard stories I wrote a couple of years ago.
They’ve surrounded me.
I don’t know when it happened or how but when I wake up they’re everywhere, scowling at me with their thin spines shattered, their faces defaced and damaged. It’s as if they’ve multiplied in the night, each day more of them, dozens and dozens more. The floor creaks under their weight.
What changed? Three months ago I had it under control – I was packing them up, putting them in bags and boxes, transferring them to the Sally Ann or the bookstore down the street, some of them to the basement of my building where people would see them and take them home. I was taking care of them, making sure they went to good families.
But the ones that are left have turned on me. When I take a box to Tanglewood, I leave it with James – he loves books and will take good care of them – and say goodbye. “I’ll miss you,” I whisper and trudge home in the rain.
Each day, on my return from the basement or the Sally Ann or Tanglewood, I open the door to leering piles of paperbacks stacked on top of hardcovers. They don’t want me to leave them. They don’t want me to discard them. But it’s time. I can’t live like this anymore.
I wade through the piles, pull out some boxes and begin to pack again. They’re watermarked and faded and I love them. They have to go.