The Book Store: Part 1
I shivered. I could feel droplets of water slithering down the back of my neck. It was times like this that I would often be kicking myself for growing my hair out again, but, as much as I hate to admit it, the fact was that I could be quite vain at times and I couldn’t help but enjoy the many compliments that both men and women would give me whenever I stepped foot out of the house. I rarely even had to brush my hair; just the right combination of lemon juice, steaming hot water, all wrapped up in a tight bun, and I was good to go for the next day as I would pretend to walk on the catwalk on my way to the communal mailbox in my apartment building. I grinned at myself in the mirror, the thought of the many compliments I would receive in the morning on the way to get my favorite indulgence of all-time. Last week had been difficult, finals are wrapping up and my parents were going to have to stay back home in New York. I was a little disappointed that my parents and my younger sister would be missing my graduation.
Everyone’s hectic work and school schedules, and the fact that I already graduated from college once, meant that I was going to celebrate graduation by returning home from the hours of tedious work at my editing job, slipping out of my favorite set of workout clothes, and eating a piece of chocolate cake from the Cheesecake Factory, while watching reruns of Frasier on Netflix. And to be honest, I was looking forward to the very exciting celebration that I had planned. Going to school and work while living on your own can be quite a hat-trick, and I had don’t think I realized how difficult it was going to be until after I signed the lease and realized I was hours away from the only person that had ever washed my laundry. I forgot at what point I was told to put in the laundry detergent. I hung my head in shame as I called my mother only an hour after she left my cozy new apartment to tell her that I wasn’t listening when she was giving that tutorial. I’ll never forget how she laughed. I was sure that the story would be one of those things that she would tell all friends and acquaintances upon meeting them for the rest of my life.
I picked up my phone, opened it to my contacts, and put my finger over the little green cell phone icon under the tiny placard that read “HOME NEW YORK” in my cell phone, but I didn’t press the button. Instead I quickly closed out of the page and I flipped on the latest episode of Good Mythical Morning, and hopped into bed.
The chilly winter air caressed my face, the French doors were always open a crack. My eyelids seemed to be getting heavier by the second, and before I could even contemplate shutting the glass doors, I was sound asleep.
When I awoke, the sky was that beautiful shade of twilight blue, and the normally bustling city was almost as silent as a winding country road in winter. This was my favorite time of day, but my nighttime work schedule made it almost impossible for me to enjoy this amazing feat of nature as often as I would like. I looked over at my phone and the numbers 6:02 AM flashed in blue against the fluorescent background, which was a toxic shade of yellow.
I quickly brushed my teeth, unfurled my hair, and put on my pale pink jogging outfit. When I grabbed my keys, I instinctively placed my hand in much the same way they teach you to carry your keys as a weapon in self-defense class. Don’t get me wrong, I never wanted to stab some perverted junkie in the eye with my house key, but as an attractive young woman living in the city by herself, you learn a few things about self-defense.
Sadly, I had to learn these things through an acquaintance I made who was much less fortunate than myself.
She was attacked one night on the way home from the bank. Her parents had bought her a Coach purse as a high school graduation present. Because of this, her assailant assumed she had money. She ran away before the attacker was able to figure it out, but all she had in that expensive purse was a couple twenties, a pack of Juicy Fruit, and some eyeliner.
The girl, I think her name was Bridget, was lucky to be unharmed, but the trauma of the event made it impossible for her to finish her degree in the city that she’d come to love. Shortly after that night’s terrifying events, poor Bridget had to go home to Iowa, but after hearing her story I decided I was always going to err on the side of caution. Before leaving the house, I slid my bank card into the side pocket of my hoodie and walked out onto the porch, finally sealing the crappy latch that secured the French doors enough to lock the entrance to my home.
Starbucks was just a short walk from my home and, to my sheer delight as an English major, it was located inside of a Barnes & Noble. It’d been a rough week and I was ready to enjoy the fact that my most recent paycheck had come with a bonus attached, knowing that I would have enough money to cover rent and buy something frivolous. As any professional writer will tell you, the idea of getting something just for yourself, just for the sheer enjoyment of getting it, is a rare treat.
I had an eerie feeling, I encased my weaponized house keys in my fist and whirled my head around in all directions. There was no one there. I shook it off, the city is never this quiet. “Maybe the quietness is what’s bothering me,” I thought aloud.
I tried to occupy my mind, I thought about what I would like to order. I decided instantly that I wanted something hot, it was way too cold to be April. I shivered involuntarily and tucked my arms up into my sleeves.
Just as I was turning into the doorway at the bookstore, I felt a little drop of rain land in my hair. I flipped my hoodie up on top of my head, wondering if any of these patrons thought I was silly. After all, I was putting my hood up just before I went inside of a building. I felt the warm dust from the artificial heat as I walked through the door. I pulled my hood back down and proceeded to my favorite section of the store. This was, of course, the True Crime section in Barnes & Noble. As a kid my parents would catch me browsing this section and would often allow me to purchase books by Ann Rule; that made me feel grown up.