Jan 16 2010

Inside the Box

Published by at 2:05 pm under blwio,callie,characterization

Her suite of rooms seemed more confining, lately. She had been living here for some time now–longer than she was used to staying in one place. This morning she meandered, stopping at whim to examine things more closely before wandering on. She wasn’t much inclined to watch visual media regularly, and today felt just dreary enough that mindless computer entertainment didn’t appeal either. Her touch lingered briefly on the dressform next to the drafting table, still draped haphazardly with several samples in a riotous conflict of colors. She didn’t have an inspiration for this piece yet, and wasn’t in the mood to look for one today.

Outside her suite was its own set of problems to deal with, and again not something she felt like handling this morning. The others called her area The Box, and for all she knew it even looked like one from the outside. Inside, however, everything was apportioned as she liked it, and even on aimless days like today she took pleasure in each room’s decor. She finished up her walk in the sitting room, and decided that reading a book would do for a temporary distraction.

Her three full-sized bookshelves were made of identical black particleboard and arranged along one wall in a uniform line. The books themselves were a chaotic mix of hardbacks and paperbacks, most of them well-used. They were arranged alphabetically by author and then by title from left to right; the first unit held A-J, the middle K-R, and the last the rest of the alphabet. She tended to pick each week’s reading selection by a blind grab, but balanced her randomness with the ordered formula by which she chose the shelf to pull from. This week it was the middle bookshelf’s turn, top shelf. She closed her eyes and shook her hand back and forth a bit before moving it around in loops and spirals through the air in front of the shelf. When it felt right she pushed forward, her fingers ready for the first brush against a bound spine…ahh, a hardback this time.

She opened her eyes and examined her selection. One of the classics in its genre, but not one she’d previously made time to read. The author photo on the back could not possibly escape notice. She spent an interested minute analyzing her reaction to the pose; it looked like an attempt at “intense, thoughtful and brooding” had become instead “nervous, weird, and slightly dorky”. She suspected the closed-off body posture contributed heavily to eroding the overt intent of the picture. When she tired of this game, she read through the dustjacket teaser for the story inside and now her interest was fully engaged. A thrilling premise, not to mention one that started all sorts of fascinating ideas and possibilities cascading through her mind.

She curled up onto the firm but plush couch, which was just the right length for her to stretch out in comfort, with pillows propping her upright and a blanket tucked around her legs and toes. Bringing the pages close to her face she inhaled deeply, savoring the papery, musty used-book odor. She ran her fingers lightly across the covers; as she reached the closed pages, she gripped their edges and riffled them quickly front-to-back as one might a flip-book, enjoying the buzz-whir sound and the tickling feel against her hand. This pre-book ritual, she found, put her into a pleasant frame of mind and ready for hours of reading enjoyment. Sensory demands thus satisfied, she turned back to the first page and began to read.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Inside the Box”

  1. Andreaon 16 Jan 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Ahhh the smell of a book. There’s nothing like it anywhere.

  2. Reesaon 16 Jan 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Indeed! New book and used book are related yet delightfully different. The cover and the pages each have their own smell, too.