note: excerpt from the new “assignment”.. the story continues today with a bit of a re-write and a different scene.
from “Buy My Book”
by Leigh-Anne Tyson © 2010
“You shouldn’t just walk by me. You should read my book.” His voice shot out at me as I turned the corner around the end of the book case. The bookstore was not terribly busy for a Saturday. A young couple wandered through the stacks of discounted books. I looked down startled. The writer stared up at me with an eager face and pasty skin. His watery mud brown eyes followed me the way a rat stalks a discarded piece of food.
“Pardon me?” I stammered. He reached out and grabbed my forearm. I was not quick enough to stop him. Damn my poor reflexes. I hated to be touched, and hated even more to be touched by someone I didn’t know. I felt my chest tighten and my skin, prickling, announced the arrival of the panic attack. I pulled my arm away as he spoke again.
“You look like you could use my book.” He said smugly. I looked up to see where my daughters had run off to. Damn them for having longer legs. The aisle was empty except for me and the writer. I looked down at the table, unable to look at him. His book stared back at me. The jacket was crudely cut and off center. A stock photo of a cross-section of an iceberg and the title of his book plastered across the tip.
“This is what happened to me. I was in a terrible car accident. It was terrible. I was hurt pretty badly. My legs were both broken here and here.” He said, pointing. He lifted the bottom of his pant leg to show me the scares. I started and felt my mouth go dry. I might as well have tried to drink chalk dust. Not a droplet of saliva to save me as I swallowed hard. Fuck.
“I went through three years of hell – 10 surgeries, infections, boils this big” he raised his hands. “Doctors would tell me that there was a 50-50 chance that I might not make it, but you know what kept me going?” I felt the inside of my throat start to scream as my tongue frantically tried to muster some kind of liquid from my gums.
“Well do you?” he insisted. I looked up at him and blinked. My mouth was thicker than plaster. I shook my head not knowing what else to do.
“I kept thinking that I could write it all down in a book and tell people how I survived this horror. I could tell people what to do and make them better. You see…” he grabbed the top book and thrust it into my hands. He grabbed at the pages, while I struggled to balance to it in my hands.
“You’ve got to believe that you are going to make it through. Here is the list of things that I did every single day. If I didn’t do these things, I would be dead now. The same thing could happen to you.” The writer nodded his head as he talked. I stared at my hands, trying to judge the best time to pull them away. His fingers were dangerously close to mine. I swallowed hard again, cursing myself.
“I need to find my children.” I managed to squeak the words out.
“Buy my book. It was destiny that you stopped to talk to me here.” He said. He dropped his hands away at the same moment and left me holding his book. I looked at him quickly, seizing the moment of freedom frantically. I heard him call after me.
“I can sign it for you if you like!” he shouted. I hurried down the aisle and cut across to the back of the bookstore where I hoped my girls would be looking at books. They were.
“Did you find anything you wanted?” I asked them. Both of my daughters turned towards me with their arms full of books and grinned. I smiled weakly.
“Good” I said. “Come on, lets get out of here.” My youngest looked at me curiously.
“Did you find a book already Mom?” she asked. I felt her eyes train in on the paperback that was shoved between my fingers and thumb. I blushed.
“Yeah, this book kind of found me.” I said. I explained to them quickly what had happened. My oldest daughter rolled her eyes and poked the book with a free finger.
“What’s it about?” she asked, trying to look at the cover.
“I haven’t a clue.” I said heading to the checkout counter.