A soft breeze caressed my face as I stepped out of my building. The air was heavy with the fragrance of the earth, soft after the first showers of the season. My sister insisted that I visit a local book club. Her friend ran it and had asked her to invite me on her behalf. They had meetings every weekend. She said I ought to meet new people to get over the hurt I was so bent upon to not let go.
My wife of ten years had left me, one fine day, just like that. No explanations were given, just a few words to say how sorry she was and a goodbye. My world had come crashing down, I suffered an identity crisis. I lost interest in my work. My home became my refuge and my sister, my only cheerleader.
“You need to find your way back to yourself,” she kept saying.
As I walked, I noticed that the usual grey of the sidewalk was adorned with the transient beauty of fall. Red and Gold leaves. It brought back memories, painful and haunting.
As I reached the address my sister gave, I stopped to take a look at the huge building, red-brick with Victorian detailing. Pushing open the heavy swing door, I entered the specified room. Seven or eight people were sitting in a circle and listening intently to a woman who was reading from a book. I tried to sit at the back when she motioned her hand asking me to take a seat next to her. The room was warm. I removed my scarf from around my neck and hung it on the back of my chair.
After the reading was over, she introduced me to the group. They clapped for me. I felt uneasy. As if she sensed my malaise, she concluded the session by saying, “books always wait for their reader. Their words stay on paper even if no one ever reads them just like the feelings you have in your heart but may not be ready to express. One can always walk away from a book if one chooses, and return when ready.”
‘I had heard those lines before,’ I thought.
“Next week, same time. I hope you will come, Alex,” she shook my hand as I took leave.
It was already dark. The chill in the air made me realize I had left my scarf inside. Before I could turn back, I heard my name.
“You forgot this,” she said handing out my scarf. The breeze moved her hair, tousling her curls over her face. She removed it with one hand and chuckled. Just then a leaf blew and settled on my nose. She burst out laughing. I laughed too, amused and embarrassed at the same time. Everything around seemed to brighten as we laughed together.
She asked me if I would like to bring one of my books to the next meeting.
“I would love to,” I said and walked back home.
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