300-word story: A solitary woman's book collection prevents her from becoming lonely.
Samantha had been a bookworm ever since she was little. Now a retired woman, her bookshelves filled more space than the rest of the furniture combined, which was exactly how she liked it.
Whilst agreeing that books were the best form of decoration, Samantha secretly vowed never to purchase one that would not be read within a month. A book that was merely on display was a sad and neglected thing indeed; an entire world forever trapped within a paper prison, desperate to break free.
Another of her quirks was dust. The house was always clean, as she would vacuum and polish every few days. The books were the only exception, left to gather as much dust as they wished between readings. Samantha considered this a visual reminder of her personal tastes, with those that she found dull gathering a crown of fluff whilst her absolute favourites rarely hosted a single speck.
Then there were the shelves, which sagged in the middle as if smiling at her from across the room. In her opinion, a level bookshelf was unnatural, as it lacked the weight of knowledge that it was born to bear. Without the gravity of the printed word, it was merely a plank of wood denied a purpose.
One evening, Samantha was relaxing in her armchair with a well-thumbed collection of verse. A particular poem likened the reading of a story, especially one rich in detail, to having actually lived its experiences. If this were true, she had met countless individuals over the years, each of them a brave protagonist, devious villain, relatable antihero or mysterious background character. Looking at it that way, life wasn't so lonely after all, and there were plenty more encounters still to come.
Excited by the idea, she wondered who she would meet tomorrow.
Copyright © 2021 Rich Sutherland
Image: Valentin Antonini