Saturday, December 24, 2016
It’s been a week since Karina stepped foot outside, and with no one interrupting her routine, she has felt absolutely peaceful. Such is the wonderful nature of winter break as an adult.
In elementary school she and the other kids in her neighborhood would wish for snow over break. Sometimes when they got it dad would shoo her outside to slide down hills on cardboard with the others, but before long she would sneak back inside.
Once she even managed to slip past the couch to the kitchen, prepare a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows, and tiptoe upstairs to her room, all while dad thought she was still traipsing about in the snow.
Perching on the windowsill to watch glitter fall from the sky was much more satisfying than getting cold and wet.
It still is, glitter optional.
Snow, rain, fog… it all gives her the same cozy feeling. And it all keeps the streets relatively free of people.
Karina turns from the frosty window, kneels down, and begins to cut open boxes, piling books onto the floor. Her only friends live on the shelves, and it’s high time she made them all at home. She places Goodnight Moon on the bottom shelf toward the left, then follows it with Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Guess How Much I Love You.
As she shelves picture books she smiles. Since before she can remember, these have been her greatest treasures. Somehow, even as a toddler she never thought to teethe on or tear the books her Grandmother sent to her. Dad doesn’t much care for books, so this natural affection doesn’t come from him.
She frowns at The Pokey Little Puppy, remembering the pages marked by the little boy who was supposed to be her friend. No real friend would ever treat her treasures like he did. She never spoke to him again after he betrayed her trust, and chose her friends carefully from that day forward.
Chapter books follow picture books as the shelf fills. Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte’s Web, and the Little House series. Then the books get thicker… Little Women and Black Beauty. Stand-alone books break up the blocks of matching spines that make up series.
Karina stands and rolls her shoulders, releasing tension she hadn’t realized had been building for who knows how long.
Hands behind her head, she considers how these books have led her on a journey from the prairies of the American West to the mountains of Middle Earth and back again. She read the new books as Grandmother sent them and revisited the old in between. With how much time she could spend reading, even a new book every month wasn’t enough to keep her busy, so she reread her favorites, and with every rereading she discovered something new.
Some of the titles tempt her to abandon her task and dive into the old stories, but she will not leave this half-finished. To appease the seducing whispers, she leaves certain books half-pulled-out as she shelves them, so that the covers can peek at her.
By lunchtime they are all in order. She revisits the books most eager to be read and pulls five from their places. She stacks four on the table by her bed and takes The Hobbit with her into the kitchen; she’ll begin reading it while eating a PB&J.
Today’s sandwich is alright, but she only notices the first bite. After that she is more interested in devouring the words on the page than the peanut butter on the bread.
Reading while eating is a nice sort of distraction. Bland food isn’t bothersome and staleness goes unnoticed that way.
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