There are moments during the day when there is just too much noise. White noise hisses from the television in the corner. The high pitch buzz of rock music blares from earbuds implanted into the ears of someone nearby. Even the insistent clickity-clack of fingers across a computer keyboard seem to add to the flurry of traffic already flushed into my mind, via my overwhelmed ears. For me, there is one moment in my day that quiet is treasured. When I can no longer take it, I escape to a brick and mortar bookstore and treat myself to a hardback book.
When I walk in, I am always taken aback by the towering displays of tomes; the precariously perched novels appearing like high divers waiting to plunge to the earth below. I find myself tipping-toeing around the pyramid tables, holding my breath to keep their descent from happening. I scan the plethora of shelves for something to read. Then, without warning, I see it. Hiding away, leaned back against a cold metal shelf, is the one I want; my book of choice, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. The glossy red and yellow book jacket stands in sharp contrast to the harsh, dulled brown of its perch, like a square apple hanging from a gnarled tree.
The crisp, jacket edges fall like a neatly pleated skirt around a strong sturdy backing. Embossed letters softly raise themselves to my eyes as if to say, ‘hello’, and bid me to take them home. I spy uniformed ivory pages sandwiched between the black binding, small gaps in the spacing attempt to cry out with a silent, ‘open at me first’. My mind reels at what might be uncovered once I take it home, do I dare? The hardback emits such a yearning to me, that I cannot stop a gently quivering hand from reaching out and lifting it off the ledge.
At first touch, the novel is cool and smooth beneath warm meager fingers. The imprinted title on the book’s sleeve rolls beneath my fingertips, like gently sloping mountains surrounding wide expansive valleys. Tracing outside the lettering, I find the rest of the cover faintly akin to sandpaper, and draw my fingers back. I rest the digest atop flat palms to feel for its weight & length. It is not so light that it may be mistaken for a mere picture book, yet it does not carry enough weight as War and Peace might. It would make a lovely specimen in my growing collect.
I tenderly run my fingertips across closed pages, savoring the minute detail of mismatched page lengths. Subsequently, I soothingly open the story just enough to hear it murmur to me. My ears delight in the sudden recognition of hundreds of small birds fluttering, as if startled by someone traipsing through their habitat. Closing the lid on this glee, I am met by the crackling pop of the book’s spine; a tribute to a roaring fire that would be waiting for us once we reached home. Sighing softly, I make my way to the front of the store to purchase my indulgence.
I brush off the jacket only to find the swishing of my hand calls to mind the gentle simmer of butter in a hot pan upon the stove. For an instant, my desire for my book is momentarily eclipsed by my hunger, as I place my prize upon the cashier’s stand. The echoing thud sounds like a dropped suitcase on a marble floor in an empty airport terminal, always louder then you expect it to be. I swipe my credit card as the smiling young lady behind the register: hurriedly wraps my treasure in plastic, places a paper receipt inside the bag, presents me with my purchase, and thrusts me towards the exit.
Walking out, I have a sense of anticipation building within my chest. I have my prize, and all that remains is to get home to the safety of my quiet room and secluded chair. My breath catches in my throat as I think of how wonderful it will be to relish in the first written words of the story. I imagine myself like Neil Armstrong, except taking a step into a new fantasy and not onto the moon. The drive home is marred with endless lines of cars braking at multiple stoplights. We pulse between the gas and brake pedals, like the jerky motion of a springy horse at a public playground.
The constant rocking forward and back has started to slowly lull me to sleep, so I turn up the air, unexpectedly puffing the bag around my reward. Immediately, the vents push the scent of new paper into my face, I breathe deeply. The lingering spice of aged leather and printer ink reminds me of long hours curled up in the quiet, delighting in an author’s heady language. I slowly exhale my valued lungful of air, when I notice I am within reach of my home. My heart leaps at the memory of my hushed home; its tranquility will only add to the soothing moments I plan on spending with Mr.
Cline, an escape from the hustle of noise. Pulling into my driveway I get a twinge in my heart of something gone wrong, like the smell of looming rain before a massive storm. The car door slamming should be thunderous, but its noise is drowned out by the riotous thumping of a bass drum. Making my way into the house, the clash of a high hat cymbal rattles the glass, distinctly reminding me of lightning doing the same during the last storm. Somehow, I get the distinct feeling that my attempts to have a quiet, relaxed noiseless reading time will be trumped by the clamor next door. And wouldn’t you guess it, I was right.