Remembering Lena

Remembering Lena

Wesley thought he knew why he borrowed the books. He wanted a reason to come back.

Every week for the last three months, Wesley Bryn has showed up at Pretty Things to return a book to the proprietor and borrow another. The reason is as much a mystery to him as to her.

00 yr. 03 mo.
Seven Days Fantasy Romance
Flash Fiction Short Story

Wesley Bryn returned to the book on Wednesday. The title and author name on the cover meant nothing to him—David Copperfield, Charles Dickens—but inside the front cover, a soft blue floral designed bookplate had a due date for Wednesday, today, blue inked in loopy feminine handwriting. Stamped at the bottom of the bookplate was an address for Pretty Things, presumably the establishment where he had borrowed, rented, or otherwise procured said book.

Wednesday, the day calendar said it was. The third. The calendar was the eye in the midst of a storm—photographs that should mean something, names and addresses, places he needed to be and by when, a favorite quote framed in wood.

Yesterday, Wesley read through his journal, one of them anyway, the story of his own life, and found it as words from a stranger, but here was this book handwritten as if to him. ‘Due back Wednesday, February 3rd.’ He pulled out the street map of the city from the phone book and guidebooks rack—every rack and box and basket neatly labeled; he would change it as soon as he figured out how—and looked up the address, trying to ignore the yellow star sticker he had placed over his own. Not far from here. He took the book and went.

A bell tinkled over Wesley’s head when he entered. Pretty Things was in the heart of town and he just one walker from the busy street outside.

“Hey, you made it.”

Wesley stopped inside the door at the girl’s beautiful smile aimed at him. She was a tiny pretty girl—his hand would swallow her wrist, perhaps even her whole face if he tried—but her hair was a burnished honey color that hung down to her waist and her eyes seemed open enough to take in all the parts of him he didn’t even know yet.

“I came to return the book,” he said automatically, stepping forward, glancing around as he did so to notice the books and Victorian-style knick-knacks scattered over welcoming tables with comfortable chairs and couches surrounding them. Bookshelves were everywhere, adorned by clocks, bottles, scarves and prints of poetry and quotes.

She reached over the counter and took the book with another smile. Wesley could see a small home-like kitchen behind her with a teapot on and steaming next to a fragrant platter of cookies on the counter beside. “Did you like it?” she asked. She flipped open the cover, glanced over the bookplate, then closed it again and looked at him, listening intently.

Wesley shrugged. How could he answer that? He remembered… Tuesday. No more, no less. “Do you have another you could recommend?” He leaned both arms on the counter.

“You know,” she said reasonably, “you could buy books instead of borrow them. Then you wouldn’t have to remember to come back.” But she was smiling as she flipped open the hardcover and peeled out the bookplate to file in a drawer he couldn’t quite see.

But Wesley thought he knew why he borrowed David Copperfield, watched her write out that due date for Wednesday. He wanted a reason to come back. “I like borrowing.”

She smiled up at him, a brilliant sweet smile, and laughed a little with a sound like a chime as she set the book back on the counter between them and leaned her chin into her hand and her elbow on the hardcover. “Well, what did you like about this one?”

Taken aback, Wesley thought about that. He frowned and glanced toward all the shelves full of other books in the rest of the small shop. “I’m not really sure.”

She hummed thoughtfully. “You always seem a little lost when you’re here.”

“Do I come here often?” he asked, wondering sincerely.

But she glanced up at him, puzzled expression glimmering in her warm brown eyes. “Only every week for the past three months. Come on, let’s see what I have.”

They went together over to the books and the scattered coffee table tomes and discussed this one, that one. “Would you like some tea?” “Yes, that would be nice.” She fetched it. They enjoyed the smell of cookies, the taste of jasmine. He picked a book, Jane Eyre, and they sat down together to read.

Of course, they did not make it further than a few chapters, not with the occasional customer she jumped up to help or their somewhat frequent discussions of what they were reading. He had to stop himself from writing in the book, but she just smiled and brought him a pencil and told him he could, and that for some reason, made him like her even more.

“What’s your name?” he asked when the afternoon sun was slanting its rays and turning a more burnished gold.

She laughed that chiming laugh of hers and held out her hands for his book. She put in another of those blue floral bookplates and wrote in pen, ‘Due Wednesday, February 10th’ then signed, ‘Lena.’ “There,” she said. “Now you’ll remember it.”

Wesley held the book and frowned thoughtfully. “I forget. Often.”

“I know people who forget things all the time,” Lena shrugged lightly, unconcerned.

But not their own names. Their lives. Everything before last Tuesday.

“I’ll bring the book back Wednesday,” he said as he got to his feet, began the walk toward the glass front door with its tinkling bell.

Time enough to wake and read his journal, remember his name, his life, and everything before. Time enough to reread Jane Eyre and his penciled notes between the words, crammed into the margins, and remember… Lena.

#


Seven Days Fantasy Romance

If you liked this story, you may also like The Cloths of Heaven. Please consider sharing this story or tipping the author at left.

Share on TumblrShare via email

8 Responses to Remembering Lena

  1. Pingback: » A Case of You Kabobbles Publishing

  2. Pingback: » Be Prepared to Bleed Kabobbles Publishing

  3. Rabia says:

    I love this! Quiet and poignant.

  4. Amalia Dillin says:

    This is so bittersweet and beautiful, and I love the slow reveal.

  5. Pingback: The #FridayFlash Report – Vol 4 Number 33 | Friday Flash

  6. Pingback: » Curiosity Saves the Cat Kabobbles Publishing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


two − 1 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>