My Life for a Book
Author Tabitha Grey
"A book, a book! My life for a book!"
Kindly adapted from Mr Shakespeare's
"A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!"
Chapter One: To read or not to read – that is the question!
I had always loved books. I loved when I could get so into a story that I'd dream about it. Sometimes I'd dream that I was in the story - or maybe that some magical world would whisk me away. There was something nice about a good book. I could forget the boring, mundane world around me and escape within the pages of a finely spun novel.
"Daphne," hearing my name startled me so much that I dropped the book I had been reading onto the desk. I turned to look where the voice had come from. My manager stood behind me, a somewhat irritated look on her face. "You weren't reading, were you?"
I looked away from her with the guilt of a child caught with one hand in the cookie jar. I looked down at my book, then back up at her. "Sorry," I said.
"If you need more work I can have that arranged," she said.
"Sure, Claudia," I said, with a shrug. "Anything to help out."
"Good," she said, turning. "I'll email you some new projects."
I sighed and looked longingly at my book. I had been so engrossed in the story that I hadn't even heard her approach. Usually, I was more careful than that. I cursed under my breath and opened my desk drawer to throw my book into it. I looked up at my computer monitor. In the time that I had been reading it had gone to sleep. I quickly shook my mouse to bring it to life again.
The life of a low-level editorial assistant is not one that is very glamorous at all. In fact, I really didn't do anything. I didn't even get coffee for people. All that I actually did was look up photos from various stock sources and some of our own photographers to suggest their use in a spread. It was work an intern should be doing – not someone with a degree that had been working for the magazine for two years.
I checked my email and got my new projects to work on. More image searching. A tropical sunset, a Tuscan villa, a lavender field from France. Each project had in bold underneath it, "Make sure not to reuse photos."
I sighed and I hoped it wasn't too loud. I went to work sifting through the photos that the editors may or may not choose to use.
The rest of my day went pretty much like that. Staring at the computer screen with the occasional longing glance at the drawer which contained my precious novel. Five o'clock finally rolled around and I was able to leave the fluorescent lighted dungeon that was TravPress – the premier travel publication house. I gathered my things and jaunted down the stairs as quickly as I could.
I got into my somewhat worn six year old Toyota and drove to my favorite spot in the world: Joe's. Joe's was a wonderful little coffee shop that felt like it was tailor made for me. The walls were a royal blue and was decorated with local artists work that were all for sale. I had a chair that I loved that was overstuffed, but lived in and comfortable. It sat in a corner of the shop that had Persian rugs and lamps covered with scarves to cast a shadowy glow on the room. It was just enough light to read in.
I wound my way to my chair through the tables and other people enjoying their lattes. I sat in my chair and pulled my book out of my purse and, with a contented sigh, I picked up where I left off.
"Hey, Daph," came the sigh from my right as I heard a body plop down into the chair next to me.
I closed my eyes and gathered my patience. "Hello, Dimitri…" I really wasn't interested in a verbal battle with him. I just wanted to read. I glanced at the chair to my right. There, lazily sprawled across it, one leg over the arm rest, was a guy who in any other circumstances would be attractive. He had short, well groomed brown hair, muddy blue eyes speckled with brown and gold. His features were Grecian and just added to his outward attractiveness. Yet, if you looked past all of that outward beauty, within him resided one of the most disgusting, despicable men that one could ever meet.
He rested his head on his fist and stared at me. I returned his stare with a withering and impatient one of my own. "So, Daph," he said, a sigh still in his voice. "You find your Colonel Darcy, or Mr. Rathburn, Heafclith or Mr. Brandon yet?"
His shit-eating grin that he had plastered on his face made me want to scream. Instead, I responded to him calmly. "It's Colonel Brandon, Mr. Rochester, Heathcliff and Mr. Darcy. And it's of no business of yours." With that I returned my eyes to my book and attempted to continue reading.
"So that means no, right?" he said, with a chuckle.
"I said it was none of your business - I never said the word no," I said, keeping my eyes to my book, though it was nearly impossible to concentrate on the words.
"But if the answer were yes, you wouldn't have a problem saying so - so it must be a no," he said with a matter-of-fact tone.
I glared at him. My patience was wearing thin. "Fine," I snapped. "You're right – no, I am not dating anyone."
"You know, Daph," he said. "I say this as a friend – you really should broaden your horizons and have more interests than just fictional characters and their dialogue of high-faluting mumbo jumbo."
My head whirled around so quickly I could have gotten whiplash. High-faluting mumbo jumbo. That was something Gilbert Blythe had said to Anne Shirley in Anne of the Island when she asked him what she thought of her writing. "Where did you get that – the phrase 'high-faluting mumbo jumbo?'"
"Huh?" he said, confused. "I don't know – I heard it somewhere, I guess. Why?"
"It's from a book…" I said, quietly, returning to my book.
"See what I mean – that's my point, Daph. You really need to have some more interests," Dimitri said, waving his arms in exasperation.
I was about to spit some scathing remark, but it was stilled by a young girl – barely legal – rushing up to him and sitting on his lap.
"Dimitri!" she whined, poutilly.
He grinned and put his arms around her. "Hey Becky – what's wrong?"
"You didn't call me!" she said, her pout increasing. "After you left so quickly the other night, I thought something was wrong!"
"Aww, Becky, I told you – I had a big project to work on and I had to be up early," he said, and patted her on the hip.
The girl – Becky – sighed and looked kind of pacified by that. "Well, are we still on for tonight?"
"Ah – tonight – I don't know –"
The sound of someone clearing their throat loudly with purpose interrupted his stammering.
"Oh," he said, looking up at the newcomer. "Anna, what's up?"
She just looked down at him with disgust and walked away.
"Okay, see you later, then," he called after her with a wave.
"Pig!" came the response.
"Who's she?" Becky said, her eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"She's the head of the project that I'm working on – she's no one really," he said smoothly.
Becky, her idiocy becoming more and more apparent to me as I watched this story unfold, seemed to think about this for a moment. After deciding that this must be the answer – and how could Dimitri ever cheat on her – she nodded and gave him a quick kiss. "I have to go to class – but I'll see you tonight?" she said, coyly.
"We'll see," he said, just as coy, that stupid smirk on his face as he watched her walk away.
"I see that you're interests are quite diversified," I said, dryly.
"They are," he said, knowingly to me. "You should take notes."
I scoffed and returned to my book.
"Are you two at it again?"
I had come to the realization that I wasn't going to get a whole lot of reading done that day.
Liz, my best friend of years, approached the table in front of the two chairs we were occupying and ran a damp rag over the top and picked up an empty coffee mug. She looked between us with humor clear on her features. If I didn't love her like a sister, I would have slapped her.
"I was just offering Daph here some friendly advice – but she wants none of it!" Dimitri said, pleading his case.
"I don't want advice from a womanizing pig like you," I said, rolling my eyes.
At that, Dimitri stood up. He chuckled some and then said, "You know, some day you're going to wish you had listened to me."
"Mark my words, Daph!" he said, and chuckled as he walked away.
I glared after him – more upset that he got the last word than anything. In the years that I had known Dimitri I could not think of one pleasant experience that I could associate with him. We had interned at the same magazine right out of college. I had progressed and been hired on full time. He had been a diva, claiming he was an artist and shouldn't have to do work that was beneath him. While I could sympathize as I thought the job was beneath me, at least it was a job.
He had spent the next year travelling and taking pictures – which to my chagrin, TravPress had purchased the rights to use them. He was a freelancer working mostly as a photographer, but also as a painter. He had the cockiness of a starving artist, but the income of someone with an actual job. I pretty much hated him.
"You know," Liz said, sitting in the same seat that he had just vacated. "If he weren't such a dick, I'd think you should go out with him."
"Yeah, okay," I said, waving her off. "And while I'm at it, I'll just stuff my head in the oven too."
"That was a famous author reference… wait – no – I know this one…. Don't tell me!" she said, feigning concentration.
"Sylvia Plath," I said, grumbling.
"I told you not to tell me!" Liz said, laughing. "He may be right, you know."
I just looked at her, praying she would not continue.
Against my most sincere wishes, she did continue. "Maybe you should do some other things – other than reading, I mean."
"Liz – you're my friend, right?" I asked, searching her face for the answer.
"Of course I am! Why do you even feel the need to ask?" she asked, outraged.
"Then never, and I mean never, agree with that asshole again," I said, seriously.
Liz just rolled her eyes and laughed. "Spare me your dramatics," she said, still laughing.
Clearly she did not see the gravity of this situation as I did. He was the enemy – she was my ally, my closest friend! They could not join forces. My world would crumble.
And I told her as much. She laughed still more, claiming that I really should stop reading so much. "There's only so much the mind can take, I think," she said, getting up and going back to work.
As I went back to reading (finally!), I couldn't stop my mind from wandering. Could Dimitri possibly be right? Should I concentrate less on the perfect, fictional male leads and consider a real-life man a companion instead?
I pondered these questions well into the night, until sleep finally came.