I snapped out of my thoughts in time to avoid collision with a sturdy bookcase. The books all seemed either old and dusty or new and trashy, the latter's covers filled with images that made me turn my head and blush. Why would anyone read, let alone write anything like that?
I turned around another corner and saw one of the few people in the bookstore who looked as if they were really happy to be here. She wasn't the sort I would have expected to find in a place like this, but upon thought, she did seem like she belonged. A sort of rapt wonder filled her expression and her hands were clasped in front of her. She looked close to my age, maybe about fifteen years old. The navy dress with sprinkled white polka dots she wore was nothing like the immodest and inappropriate attire I had come to expect of most teenage girls and the clean white headband that framed her face and held her hair up lent her a sweet and clean sort of air. She wandered a few slow steps at a time, taking in... what? What was she so enraptured about? I swiveled my head around, trying to figure it out. There was nothing there but books. Dusty, boring old books. And yet she seemed so happy. What was it that gave her such joy?
I realized I had been staring at her and immediately looked down at the ground and turned away, but after a furtive glance back through a bookcase, I saw that she was as wrapped up in her thoughts as I had been and scarcely noticed anything beyond the books. She wasn't pretty like normal people, but when she smiled,she was beautiful in a different way. Her face just lit up, somehow.
She walked by and her face brightened even more when her eyes rested on a small table. I peered closer. Classics? What kind of teenage girl loves classics? She picked one up, and looked vastly disappointed when she realized there was plastic wrap around it. Thumbing through the others, she grinned a little knowing smile when she found an open one and picked it up gently. I squinted; the cover was simply, "Fairy Tales from Different Cultures." The one she had looked at before was a collection of Charles Dickens novels.
A man called from the front of the building and she replied softly, only just loud enough for him to hear. She put the book down lovingly and stroked the spine once before sprinting to the front of the store to leave with the man. Her father? Possibly. When they exited, I lifted the book and felt the pages closely until I found the place where she had stopped. The book opened in my hands and I blinked.
The story it opened to was 'Beauty and the Beast.'
And she had left a note folded in the pages.
The Book Girl, Part Two
The Book Girl, Part Three
Elisabeth apologizes for the length of this story, but she didn't want to cut any of it out. She's also sorry for the slight fairy-tale obsession she's had lately. But the reason is kind of personal, so we'll leave that for now.
Elisabeth thinks this picture makes her and her sisters look like partners and crime. And actually, that's a pretty apt description of them.