We shared a moment didn’t we, L? Fleeting, glancing, but real as a gloved finger brushing snow off an officer’s bristly mustache. I had high hopes for how things were going to be. But…I’m breaking up with you.
It isn’t you, it’s me. I’m just not ready for this kind of relationship. I was tentative from the start. If someone said I was hedging my bets when we got together, they were right. I began with a feeling of dipping my toe in the water, never plunging completely in.
It’s just – I have so much going on in my life right now, and it feels like you require more of me than I’d be able to give. Maybe it’s foolish to say I know this isn’t the end; that one day I’ll have another chance with you. You’ll probably laugh yourself silly over that one – when haven’t you heard it before?
With heavy heart and no small measure of embarrassment (in the first flush of bright hope I crowed about you to anyone who’d listen. If only I’d heard the measured replies for what they were – care and concern; instead I saw them as jealous and grudging).
Now I make that sad trudge of shame back to the public library to return you to the shelves, so that someone more pure of heart, less self-involved and busy frittering their life away on worldly pursuits that bear slim chance of success, can find you. I’ll take a look at the shelf and eye War and Peace which I could maybe watch a film of one day, and for a second I’ll heft the slim Death Of Ivan Ilych in the palm of my hand, for your pull is so strong and that book is so short, I’ll think…perhaps?
But this is really goodbye Mr. Tolstoy, for now. At over 800 pages, I have to quit, barely forty pages in. I promise to have more faith next time, to shell out sixteen dollars (minus my thirty percent employee discount if I’m still working in the bookstore, which I hope I will be if only for the chance to see you go home with others more worthy – yes, I believe in you that much) for my own copy. With heavy heart I climb the stairs and place you on the returns cart, praying the kindly librarian doesn’t ask how things are going – there’s no lying to a librarian. I’d have to tell her I wasn’t up to it. When her back is turned, I’ll slip you in between Easy Hudson Valley Hikes and Guy Fieri’s Hot Barbq, and for a second all the other possibilities I’ve had to shut my eyes to will stretch out before me: The Southpaw; that book of Edna O’Brien short stories; good old McMurtry; a new Oprah magazine. But this moment of goodbye is just you and me.
There – it’s over. Adieu, adieu – until the next time.
(Maybe if they’d given you a better cover?)