Book Love

“How can you not like books?!”  Sabrina was more offended then she was in shock.  She knew a lot of people didn’t read.  The time commitment alone was daunting and in school she maybe read three books per grade, nothing too hard.  It just wasn’t something that was important to people anymore in the I need it now age.

“Books are life!  Books are everything to me.  If you locked me away in a tower for years, as long as I had a library I would never go crazy.  Tennessee Williams you cannot dislike books and be my friend.”

He hated it when she called him Tennessee.  It was bad enough that his last name was Williams anyway and that the cutesy nickname his mother used was Tenny, but to have people use his full name used as a way of showing sternness never sat well with him.  It felt as if he was being mocked.

“Sab, you know I hate it when you call me that.”

“Sorry,” she smirked knowing she got to him.

“I don’t like books because I don’t see the point.  If a book is any good then someone will make a movie or TV show about it.  Why spend so much time flipping through pages when you can consume all of the same information in a sitting?”

Sabrina groaned and her body fell forward under the weight of his words.

“Oh-My-God!  You did not just say that.  Tenn, you did NOT just say that.  What is wrong with you?!”

Her blood was boiling.  She felt her fingers twitching and her mind was racing.  The size of the rebuttal he was about to receive was enough to crush him under its weight in reams of paper.

“We get these assignments and they have us reading a chapter or two a night.  Why?  We could watch the movie and finish the entire lesson in a day.  Why use archaic forms of teaching when new, more efficient tools are at your disposal?”

Tennessee looked at her with his usual inexpressive face.  His eyes were calm and were trying to read her expression.  He always had been slightly robotic and it went beyond his practical way of thinking to his mannerisms as well.  He wasn’t much for physical showing of affection or an outpouring of joy or glee to go along with his blank stares.

Sabrina, on the other hand, was nearly his complete opposite.  She was expressive and raucous.  She exploded with emotion.  Whenever she would see a friend out unexpectedly her first instinct was to scream and run towards them with her arms outstretched for a hug.  Tennessee received this ritual on a few occasions and Sabrina would bear hug him as his body tensed.

She was also a voracious reader.  Someday she dreamed of leaving their small town in nowhere-ville Wisconsin and becoming one of the great heroines of the books she loved so dearly.  Travel the world.  Fall in love.  Get her heart broken only to fall in love again.  Discover beauty beyond compare.  She wanted to feel what it was like to be alive and not merely slogging through life.

“Looks!  Come here,” she grabbed his arm and pulled him, not giving him the chance at responding, “A television show or movie can’t do this.”

She took off her backpack and riffled through it, pulled out a book and flipped towards the middle.  Her books were tattered and worn.  Some of the covers were ripped and the corners were dulled.  Every page had highlighter and pen markings in them.  Some whole paragraphs were bright yellow and other pages had a single sentence underlined.  The margins of the pages had words written up and down, left and write and underneath.

She loved these books like they were a lover, a parent or her own child.   Some parts of them made her grow and feel as if love existed.  Other sections taught her so much on how to be the best version of herself.  While different areas she helped grow in her own image, writing down her own thoughts or additions as if she were an editor or mother.

She flicked her head up to Tennessee and made sure he was paying attention, catching his dark eyes staring into her face and then looking back down quickly she began to read.

When he finally stepped outside everything felt as if it were real again.  For five years he had been in prison and every day was purgatory.  When his feet landed beyond the gated fence and it closed and locked behind him he took his first real breath in half of a decade.  The air was pure and he didn’t cough or choke up.  It was the same air that was behind the fence behind him but this air was free.

He shut his eyes tight and held them closed and listened to the sounds.  The sounds of the prison behind him were there but they were dulled and far away.  Even the walkie-talkie on the guard at the gate was muffled.  The only sound he could hear clearly were birds chirping until something else cut through the moment.  A shriek that shot his eyes open.  He knew that shriek and where it was coming from.  He looked straight ahead and running towards him in full stride while wearing a cut-off shirt, too-short shorts and flip flops was Becks screaming at the top of her lungs, “baby!  Baby!  Oh my god!”

She didn’t slow down and she didn’t stop.  She slammed into his body at the fastest speed she could go, leaping into his arms and wrapping them around his neck and her legs around his hips.  He caught her and spun as their lips exploded together like a gun shot.  Her hair was floating as they twirled and then settled down around his face as they kissed and made out only a few feet from the prison fence.  

He hadn’t touched her in nearly six years and he carried her to the car parked across the street.  After seeing her but not having her for so long there was no way he was going to put her down.  

“Do you see what I mean?!”  Sabrina looked up at him.  She read the words with such passion and feeling that she felt as if she were both Becks and her man, feeling the emotion of each of them at that moment.

“Yeah but, they can show that same thing on screen,” retorted Tennessee.

Sabrina shook her head no vehemently, “nuh uh.  Not like this.  Not with this kind of feeling and emotion.  They could show them, yes.  They can show her running and him catching her and the kiss but they can’t get the feeling.  The depth of being released and then seeing his woman running towards him.  Both of them not believe this moment was ever really going to come and then the eruption of emotion that came with it.  You can’t duplicate that!”

She felt like she was yelling at him but she was just passionately stating her argument.  He knew this and conceded, her devotion was stronger than his pragmatism.  He could continue to state common facts but she had fire in her eyes and it would never burn out.

“You’re right Sab.  I’ll give you that.”

She smiled and nodded, “good.  Now we’ll have to read this together sometime then, huh?  You’ll want to finish it, right?”

“Sure.  We can do that.  I’m curious what made you pick that one out of all of those bound lumps of paper in your backpack.”

Sabrina laughed, “oh you’ll find out!”

The two friends continued walking towards their homes without exchanging much more than a few words.  The silence wasn’t awkward but felt like it was something.  A moment had happened between them and it connected them.  They had always been friends but she showed him her passion and he let her in.  Something was there and all they had to do was to let it keep growing.

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