People are looking in my windows again, reading the titles of the books aloud, passing divine judgements.
‘Churchill: The End of Glory. God, look at him.’
‘Gandhi Before India. That’d be a good read.’
It’s cold outside. The leaves continue to slide in under the door. People walk to the bakery and take food back to their cars, lean against the doors, blinking at the warmth. Gaze at my displays.
‘I think they’re all new age books.’
‘Want to go in?’
Small groups cross the road cautiously, lighting up when they see the bakery open and only a small queue. They tap my window kindly on the way past.
‘It’s open again.’
Another pair talked loudly as they sped past.
‘And we went around and around all over the place, and then we said…. stuff it. Nothing’s open anyway…’
A couple come in and ask me for permission to browse. They showed me their hands as though for inspection. I said, ‘Yes, please do. Take your time (take a year).
Andrew, who is 92, picked up his copy of Exactly, and said that it’s a strange time right now, but he’s known worse.
A lady came in and went out again. She said to her husband, who was still browsing, that she was going for a large bun so they didn’t turn up empty handed. He didn’t answer.
Each time a car passes, sunlight strikes its windscreen and sends a brief oblong of light against my door. This heartbeat is interrupted only when someone walks past. Footsteps, a cluster of shoulders across the window, a cooling of the light, someone saying, ‘Come on, you don’t need any more books.’
But they do, and they come in and ask for Predator’s Gold by Philip Reeve or anything on mushrooms.