I skim the books for plotlines and personable characters. Soon the stack narrows down by half. Great books, even though they aren’t aimed towards me. I add a few new authors to my list of ones to read. Amazing how sometimes you can find gems in the least popular books.
One book details the falling of a kingdom. The characters fight for the kingdom of old, one a princess, the other a vagabond. The princess holds her ground with strength instead of remaining soft and cute. The vagabond does his best for the greater good despite his mysterious and conniving background. The two make a contrasting pair. They each represent the different sides of the kingdom. A strong holding towards power and the freedom of the world on the other. Where will they end up, and how do they manage to bring the kingdoms together?
I read the end of the book to justify the means of the story. The ending seems bleak but leaves plenty of room for a sequel with a better ending. The meat resides in the middle of the book, where I find the most enjoyment.
The scent of coffee becomes stronger after a few pages.
“You should drink that before it gets cold.”
Jill had sat down across from me, two coffees set between the books. She parts the books just enough to make better contact. “You really zone out.”
“Sorry, you sorta learn to when you live in the dorms.”
“No need for details, I can imagine.” She takes a sip from her coffee and points to mine, “I hope you like black.”
“Black is perfect. I can’t do those fancy drinks. Mocha-choco-lacta-whatever.”
Jill laughs, “Clearly, for you, simple is best. Err, simple pleasures I mean. Not you’re simple. Sorry.”
Now I laugh, “Nah, it’s cool. Keeping it simple is best. Things in life get complicated enough.”
Jill smiles. “You sure do like your young-adult fiction.”
“That’s my favorite genre. Seems weird of me to say as I get older I guess.”
“Are you kidding? Adults read this shit all the time. They share them with their kids too. Don’t feel weird for reading. You’ll put me out of a job.”
“Speaking of jobs, how did you start here?”
“I needed money to pay for school. My dad doesn’t have a lot of money so I had to do it myself. The scholarships and grants helped too.”
“Wow.” I never really thought where I would be if my parents couldn’t afford school. “Do you like it here?”
“Well, having experience and enough skill to talk my way into it, I was able to convince them to hire me as assistant store manager. So I am able to cover the expenses I have. So that’s nice. Being around books all day is pretty amazing, but I never have the chance to read any.”
“You don’t read at home?”
“Not as often as I’d like, that’s for sure. But it’s become something of habit to set aside a little from the paycheck to get a book or two. I have to be careful where my money goes though.”
“That’s tough. I’d want to spend it all here. My wallet is empty.”
“Judging by this stack, I wouldn’t doubt it,” she says, smiling, “You mentioned you go to the university.”
“Yeah, I actually enrolled in the college for English. I really want to be on one of these shelves one day. What about you?”
She ponders the question for a minute before answering. “I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. There are many careers like that, but I can’t afford a four-year university. It’s fine though, plenty of things to keep me occupied.”
“Like what? My roommates love their TV.”
“I don’t have a TV. I do have a small garden. Mainly for tomatoes and other things. Saves a bit of money. But I wouldn’t call it a hobby, though.”
“But you were in my concert band. Don’t you also play an instrument? That can be a hobby.”
“Sure, and well yes, but I played an electric guitar. And an electric guitar is not really concert band material. Can’t imagine why,” she smiles sarcastically, drawing a laugh from me, ”I did play in a punk rock band outside of school though. Managing at school got me paid in a more steady way than playing at local bars.”
“Do you still play then?”
Jill props her head with her hand, “I wish. But that’s a long story. Are you studying in the music program?”
“No, I wanted to do something else. Which also caused a falling out with one of the guys in my section.”
Jill nods, understanding. “I only ever saw you with an instrument and with Oliver. I’m guessing that’s who you mean?”
Hearing the name stings a little but the memories were going to come up eventually. “Yeah, Oliver and I aren’t together anymore. Career differences. It was a dream of my parents, we would play music professionally.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
“No, it’s fine. He’s been crazy about music since we were kids. But I wanted something different. I wa-”
A loud crash shatters the relative silence in the cafe.