NWM

He had warned her about opening the book; now, it was too late. Little did she know her actions would cause such consequences, but, then again, she was only 12.

The girl had always wanted to feel a sense of belonging. As an orphan, she didn’t have any memories of warm smiles or gentle caresses. Never would she feel the reassurance of a mother’s arms or hear the laughter of a father’s voice.

All who came to seek a family left with somebody other than her. They came and went, never once glancing at the no name girl.

The one thing she understood best was loneliness. While loneliness was just a word for others, it was her way of living.

She had always gotten by on her own. Almost like a promise to herself, she decided a long time ago that loneliness would never bother her even when it was unbearable.

While questions still berated her every day, she did find solace in books. The feel of the binding crunching under the pressure as the book was pried open, the dust that danced itself off of used volumes, and the sound of books being snapped closed were her fondest memories.

Even when she couldn’t read a lick of English, books were a great love of hers. The pictures peeled themselves off the page and twirled themselves with the letters she could not understand.

They became real for her, more real to her than the hopes of ever being adopted by parents. Books became an attainable reality to her; a world where she was the center and everybody else no longer existed. And her existence as a human ended the day she met Mr. Linden.

On no particular humid day in early May, this young girl came into a bookstore with little to no money, trying to swindle the owner of a perfectly good book. Mr. Linden, the bookstore owner, had seen her sneaking around the store prior to that day.

With clothes like hers, she couldn’t have come from anywhere but the local orphanage.

This was the first time she had dared to enter and he kept a watchful eye on her as she roamed the dimly lit shelves. In only a few minutes though, she returned to the front with a leather book in hand.

“This book is not for sale, especially to the likes of you,” Mr. Linden sneered.

“How about an exchange then?” the girl asked with stoic eyes.

“No,” he said. “Now leave. You don’t belong here.”

With no further discussion, she obediently headed towards the door, obviously unaffected by his cold words.

As the bell rang her departure, Mr. Linden grabbed for the abandoned book on the counter only to find a tattered Bible in its place.

With his mind preoccupied, the young girl had skillfully switched books right under his nose and successfully gotten out of the reaches of a terrifying Mr. Linden.

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