When they came in, they said, ‘Sorry’ and ‘Thank you’, both at once, although there is nothing to be sorry about. I have been open for two days. I don’t put my signs out. It is very quiet. People still want to read.
A man came in and said, ‘Do you do printing?’
Another man came in and said, ‘Sorry, I wanted the bakery’.
An old customer from Milang opened the door and said, ‘GOOD ON YOU, YES!’
People are very kind. They comment that we are lucky here. They ask for books that I mostly don’t have and are kind about it. They choose other books. People come in that I’ve never seen before. They look at my bottle of hand sanitizer and use it with kind faces.
A lady stood and looked out of the window at the empty street for a long time.
Then a couple came in. They looked carelessly happy. I have not seen this for a long time. They said, ‘Ah, sorry…thank you. We’ll just look about.’ They are the only ones here, but the shop seemed full, so much conversation, so much noise, so much crossing paths. He said, ‘Good find, good find.’ She said, ‘I know’. On they went, around and around.
Some people passed the window, very fast. Tradesmen. One said, ‘A book, a book, you want to buy a book?’
‘Don’t think so. What’s a book keeper?’
‘Dunno’. ‘Not a good day to go to the beach, though.’
‘Yeah, I know, and then I look up, and there’s this bus, like, right at my side, and I’m like, move over mate’
They are gone. It’s quiet again. Just leaves blowing, red and gold disks snapping under my door, a nuisance, and very beautiful.
But the couple are still here. Beaming, joyous. They had discussed bird watching in the back room. They asked for a certain book which I did not have. Never mind. Because instead, they had some very fine histories. They lingered, undecided. Maybe they had missed something. They said, ‘we always get something good.’ She gave a jump, ‘look at this.’ He spun around, ‘What?’ She jumped at the shelf. ‘My God, I’ll have it.’
I wondered about them. Whey were they so happy? Had they been here before? Why were they so happy? Where did they live? I wondered where they lived. I imagined a house with many books.They stacked their books and paid, and I stood up. So much happiness, it was at chin level. I had to stand up.
Artwork by Anton Pieck (1895- 1987)