The Day Could Have Turned Out Otherwise by Kelly Grotke

He’d just missed the bus. Half an hour then for another, according to the screen. His friends were still around the corner at the bar but the weather had turned damp and he didn’t feel like crossing the park again to rejoin them. A slight annoyance at bad timing before the book he’d been carrying around all day finally came out.

He’d had a friend, a monk as it happened, who’d always covered his books in plain brown paper. The only person he’d ever known to do such a thing. He could no longer remember why exactly but maybe it was to guard against the temptations of intellectual pride, or perhaps it was a habit acquired in the years before the Index was abolished. Funny, how holding a book in public even now for him recalled an action whose precise justification had long gone astray.

“What are you reading?” Without words, he lifted the book from his lap to reveal its spine. “The essay about truth, I liked that one very much, have you read it?” No, he admitted, looking up. “All my possessions are in these bags, isn’t that funny? My books are all gone, but on the other hand I believe your bus is here. Good to see someone reading anyways. ‘Bye then.” And he felt for a moment as if time had suddenly flown down to land on him like some exquisite and untamed bird, but just as quickly it passed and he got on the bus.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “The Day Could Have Turned Out Otherwise by Kelly Grotke

  1. Al McDermid

    I had a friend who did that, the brown wrapper thing. In his case, I think it was motivated by paranoia. Anyway, really enjoyed this, particularly the (newly?) homeless guy.

  2. This image you’ve drawn, the two characters, the setting, all like a flash of light and meaning. Nice.

  3. Makes me wonder why people don’t read as much in the story, sort of a Ray Bradbury feel to this little scene.

  4. Lovely moments in this piece, with just enough oddities to make it real. That brown wrapper covering has rich symbology to it. Nice!

  5. guy

    Japanese bookstores wrap books unless you ask them not to. So there’s a 100 million people with paper-covered books. They used to make us do that with our schoolbooks, too.

    I wasn’t sure if the reader was talking to someone or himself.

  6. kelly

    thanks for reading, everyone, and for the wrapped books additions too! Yeah, this piece is rather unfinished, I think, more of a sketch – too much comes down to bear on the last paragraph when I was running out of words, hehe. Glad to hear there are good bits in there, so maybe I’ll give it another go sometime

  7. I love all of this, but especially the image of time settling on him like an untamed bird. peace…

  8. Pingback: Week #31 – Missed the bus | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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