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The Big Chill

It was really cold. I had layers of clothing on – girdle, dress, sweater, coat, hat, gloves; I was still shivering. I was shopping downtown and decided that I needed to duck in somewhere and see if my nose was still on my face since I had lost feeling in it. The book store looked warm and it might make me feel better to check out the latest best sellers to add to my library request list.

Mr. Todd usually works the register but there was a young woman clerking today. She smiled and greeted me warmly as I entered. I returned a greeting and moved towards a beautiful display of recently published books. I liked the way the book shop smelled, a combination of paper and age and ideas. I looked at the titles and moved toward my favorites – the biographies. When I was a young reader, our hometown library had lots of biographies that must have all been printed by the same publisher. Their spines were a deep pumpkin color and went I squinted, I could pick out the color among the shelves and reach for a new friend. I devoured them all. I hoped that the supply would be endless, but as a grew away from those shelves into the adult section, nothing replaced the excitement of seeing a new friend on the shelf.

Finding a book to read now meant opening up the jacket and reading something about it first to see if it captured my fancy. A quick read of the back of the book gave me some additional reasons to collect the name of the book for my growing library list. I closely guarded my list and depended on the library to keep buying books to keep my reading habit satisfied. I must have drifted off into the book I was looking at and didn’t hear the young clerk come up behind me to ask me if I wanted a cup of coffee to drink while browsing. I jumped a little and she must have thought me peculiar but I liked the idea of having something to drink while I read. I couldn’t imagine why everyone didn’t serve coffee and tea to me while I shopped. I would have lingered longer and certainly would have felt the need to buy something in return for the gracious hospitality. I apologized and so did she at the same time and we both laughed at the same time. Strangely, we had the same nervous laugh.

When the clerk returned with the mug, she introduced herself as Lucy and told me about the book I was holding. Lucy asked if I was looking for anything special and I answered that I read anything good but liked biographies. Her face lit up and she steered me over to a new shelf of choices. Famous names everywhere. I ran my fingers along the spines and pulled out a book on Abigail Adams. Lucy was pleased with my choice. I checked out the back of the jacket and the inside flap for a description but I knew who the book was about and told Lucy that I would buy it. I followed Lucy up front and she told me that she would give me a good discount since I was her first customer. I asked her if she was going to get into trouble with Mr. Todd but she laughed and told me that her dad wouldn’t mind. I had no idea Mr. Todd had a lovely daughter. I thanked Lucy and promised to return soon.

Feeling warmer, I walked out into the cold and finished my shopping in a better mood.

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