In Her Element

“Why are you here?” she asked without even looking.
“I love to read.” he answered as he pulled himself a seat next to her.
She tilted her head to face him, raised one of her eyebrows so it showed above her insanely thick red plastic rims. The hardly evident eyebrows are real, he thought amusedly.
“Here. Why are you here? Not like, say, way over there.” her sarcastic whisper was sharper than nails scratching a chalkboard.
“Because your fieriness gives me warmth.” he whispered back shamelessly.
“Watcha readin’?” still, insistent on asking.
“None of your damn business.” and with that she continued on reading.

With that, he zipped his mouth.

Her chin was resting on her right palm. Her loose ponytail sagged and rested on the nape of her neck. The cover of the book she was reading rested on her left hand, with her thumb holding several pages back.

She could make the smallest movements. Movements only a bit bigger than breathing. She could turn pages just by the tip of her left thumb. As if she didn’t want to awaken the soul that was lured somewhere in the book’s wilderness she was reading.

He carefully pushed back his chair. Lifting it as not to make even a sound of wood rubbing against carpet. He left his beanie and mittens on the table next to her. On purpose. An ‘I’ll be back’ of some sort.

It’s a date. He playfully imagined. She’s my date. The girl who reads. Not some dead in the head beauty who talks without thinking. Who kisses without feeling.

He’s figured it out for quite a while now. Her reading schedule. The books she likes. The sections she is always seen lingering in, before she has gathered her books of the evening. No more than 10 books. The library’s limit is 4. She reads a chapter each before deciding which to borrow. A rule often forgotten if the book has caught her by the hook. Causing her to stay there longer than planned. Almost every time.

She comes here every other evening when she is not slicing lettuce and onions for her sister’s Taco truck. He could smell the onions emanating from her fingers sometimes. Though it’s clear that sometimes she tries to hide it with her perfume. A scent that reminds him of some type of tea he just couldn’t put his finger on.

He could easily be considered a stalker. If she didn’t know his parents and where he lived. If she wasn’t already dating his best friend since before they hit puberty.

He was the shoegazer, his best friend was the stargazer. She was wooed by his telescope and his knowledge of constellations. What she didn’t know, the same telescope was used quite often to peek into her room.

The library was her way, of killing time. Innocent years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds she found guilty for keeping him from her.

The library was his way of buying time. Guilty years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds he could steal from his best friend. To be with her. In her element.

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Date A Girl Who Reads

Thank you, Ms. Urquico, hopefully the man sleeping next to me shall realize that he has married a girl who reads (& writes).

Amin!

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You should date a girl who reads.
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

Rosemarie Urquico

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思ひで by 鈴木 常吉

君が吐いた白い息が

今ゆっくり風に乗って
空に浮かぶ雲の中に
少しずつ消えてゆく
遠く高い空の中で
手を伸ばす白い雲
君が吐いた息を吸って
ぽっかりと浮かんでる
ずっと昔のことのようだね
川面の上を雲が流れる
照り返す日差しを避けて
軒下に眠る犬
思い出もあの 空の中に
少しづつ消えてゆく
この空の向こう側には
もうひとつの青い空
誰もいない空の中に
ぽっかりと浮かぶ雲
Misty white breaths you exhale
Slowly blown by the wind now
Into the clouds in the sky
Gradually fading away

From up above the sky
White clouds reach down
To inhale your breaths
They continue to float away

Seems just like the distant past
Clouds passing over a flowing river

Avoiding the sun’s reflection
Dogs sleep under the eaves
Memories too into the sky
Gradually, fading away

On the other side of the sky
Yet more blue space
In the emptiness of the sky
Clouds drifting by