The young man strolls into the used bookstore with as much nonchalance as he can muster. He looks around, eyeing the stacks of horror novels, passing over the harlequin racks, letting everything catch his eye and his fancy. He knows he hasn't a dime to spend on a book. he heads to the clearance section anyway.

He leafs through German novels, just looking at the strange, harsh words he cannot read, turns the complex physics books upside down to try to make more sense of them. This corner of the store, with its slightly bent covers, notes written in the pages, and cola stains on the corners makes him feel at home.

Then he picks up a new book. His eye passes over it, but his hand pauses. It's nondescript, a pleasant forest green with a tattered corner. He opens it, skims a page. He sinks to his knees, reads it fully. Then again. The words jump off the page at him, each line clamoring for its place in his heart. He's read books before, but never has a book, just an ordinary book, touched him so profoundly.

He races to the counter and digs through his pockets. He finds twenty-seven cents and a peppermint. Dinner tonight. He asks how much the book costs. The pretty brunette working the counter looks him up and down, looks the book over. She proclaims that she sees no price tag.

For the rest of her days, she will maintain that she's never seen such a smile.