Just One Book

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They didn't agree on much. In fact, they didn't agree on anything. They fought all the time and challenged each other every day. But despite their-

My reading was suddenly interrupted by someone obnoxiously clearing their throat next to me. Trying to ignore them, I continued to read.

But despite their differences, they had one important thing in common. They were-

Again, this person cleared their throat sounding as if they were right by my ear when doing so. I turned my head to see that the person on my left was the one who had interrupted me.

"Can I help you with something?" I ask the man who is staring right at me.

"Yes, actually. You can. What are you reading?"

"The Notebook. Why do ask?"

"I wanted to know what book could ever make someone have that look on their face." he said, propping his chin on his hand.

"What look?" I ask slightly worried. I don't think I've ever paid a lot of attention to what I look like when reading and have never gotten comments on it before.

"You looked almost longingly at it. As if the story itself was the one thing in life you truly desired."

"Well, in a way, it is." I respond, thinking deeply on what he's said.

"What do you mean by that?" he asks leaning more towards me.

"Have you ever read The Notebook?" I ask.

"I'm sorry to say I haven't had the chance."

"It's a beautiful book. You should really consider it."

"I think I will."

"It's a love story. It's one of the most beautiful ones I've ever read. I can't read the last few chapters in public because they always make me cry." I run my fingers over the cover of the book. I look up to see the stranger staring at me with a look of curiosity in his eyes.

"What? Do I have a weird look on my face again?" I ask.

"Will you read it to me?" He says completely ignoring my question.

"Why can't you read it for yourself?"

"I can I just don't want to." He shrugs his shoulders.

"And why is that?"

"Because I want you to."

"And why would I take time out of my day to read you a story you could read to yourself perfectly well?" I challenge.

"Because you'd be reading it anyways and you know you want to." he responds quickly.

My eyes narrow as I study his, looking for an ulterior motive.

After not seeing any sign of one, I realize I can't read it to him in the library. There are children that come here regularly and I'm pretty sure that their mothers would not appreciate them hearing some of the content that this book entails.

"Where would we read it? It's not exactly a storybook with pictures that I can read with children running around."

He leans back in his chair and grins, looking as though he just won something.

"One moment," he gets up and goes to the librarian at the front desk. He returns a minute later with a sticky note and pen in hand.

After writing what looks to be an address on the paper, he hands it to me and picks up his bag, ready to leave.

"Meet me there tonight at five and bring your book."

"How do I know I'm not going to show up to see that you are planning to murder me?"

"You'll just have to trust me." he says before exiting the library.

• • •

I pull up to where the sticky note had directed me to and see that it is a small lake with a field of long grass surrounding it. It's nearly deserted except for one person.

He's laid out a blanket on top of the grass and is currently laying on it with his hands behind his head. I retrieve my book and exit my car.

"Glad you decided to trust me." He says, not even opening an eyelid to look at me.

"I wouldn't say I trust you yet. I don't even know your name."

"Jay." he responds. "And you?"

"Maddy."

"Just Maddy? Or is it short for something?"

"My name is Madison but I've been called Maddy since I was in the second grade."

"Well Madison, I'm very pleased to have met you. Have you brought your story for me?"

"Yes I have. Shall I begin now?"

"Yes, please."

So I read him the first chapter. We met at the same spot at that same time every day. I would read him a chapter a day and he would listen to every word.

The only time I didn't read was when I cried.

Whenever Jay noticed me tearing up, he would just sit up and take the book from my hands. He'd find where he had stopped me and finish reading the chapter for me. There were no hesitations or awkward silences. All we did was read to each other. There were plenty of times we laughed and there were plenty of times when we were both too into the story to remember that the other was there.

When we finally reached the last chapter, I realized that today was going to be the last day I read to him. I started reading and a few pages in, I was in tears again. I honestly have no idea how Jay knows when I begin to cry.

When I begin reading he is always in the same position. Laying on his back with his hands cradling his head and his eyes closed like he is about to take a nap. I'm not a loud crier. In fact, when I cry I barely make a noise. With his eyes closed, how does he know when I'm crying? I've thought about it quite a bit and haven't come up with a conclusion yet.

Jay sat up and silently took the book from me. He moved to sit next to me and began to pick up where I left off. After reading for a little bit, his voice began to shake as well but he continued to read until the book was finished. Jay read the last few words and then silently closed the book and set it in front of us.

I was sitting with my knees pulled up to my chest and the bottoms of my sleeves wet with tears. I felt Jay's eyes on me and turned to look at him. His eyes were glistening but he hadn't fully cried yet.

"I had no idea." he finally said.

"About what?" I rasped.

"That a book could make you feel so much."

"You just have to find the right book." I gave him a watery smile.

"Thank you for reading to me Maddy."

"You're welcome." I said back.

There was a moment of silence until Jay suddenly said, "What should we read next?"

My face lit up and I thought for a moment before saying, "Have you ever heard of The Fault In Our Stars?"

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