The browser

A young girl in the shop is browsing. Browsing means to take a leisured survey, and in a bookshop, browsing is a slow dance, unique to the reader, the shop, and the shelves.

This girl takes a book, examines the spine, the pages, the top, the bottom, the back, the front. She carefully balances three books flat on her left hand, while turning to look for some more.

The lady next to her stands as straight at a doorway

The man behind her is bent like a bow. He is reading on the lower shelves.

The next man holds his hands and his phone behind his back and leans forward. Protrudes his head even further forward and reads titles with screwed up eyes, and every so often, nods. His partner follows behind him looking at her phone.

The browser, the first one with the careful balance of three books has added a fourth. A couple enter and turn in circles looking for the Covid thingo. They hold their phones and sunglasses in front of them. After checking in, she turns to the biographies and says ‘woooooo’. Her partner looks at her and then goes back out. A child going past says loudly, ‘Hairy Maclary.’

The movements of bookshop browsers can be almost imperceptible, but the flickering muscles of the eyes tell the real story.

Painting by Casey Childs

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