I was perusing one of my computer folders over the weekend and found a very short story I’d written about two years ago. It’s always been one of my favorites, as it touched on something I think every writer is looking for: immortality.
I’m not talking the ‘I want to live forever’ or ‘stay beautiful/youthful forever’ type of immortality. More, it’s knowing you’ve left something of yourself in the world that others will forever know you by. We’ve lost many great authors, yet we can pick up a copy of their work and still have them with us.
I think everyone wants to be remembered beyond their immediate family and close friends. We don’t want to be forgotten. Sometimes, if you’re very lucky, you’ll be someone who people look up to and admire. You’ll leave a legacy behind you that transcends death, one that makes others strive to become the same type of person you were.
As a writer, I’ve had some interesting moments since signing with Solstice. I’ve seen some things that I want to forget, while I’ve had other moments that put me in a state of shock for days. Am I really worthy of an honor? Can I deliver what people now expect from my writing time and time again? Will I be the type of author whose books will be rarely found in the used book store because my fans refuse to part with them?
So, here’s the story. Maybe one day I’ll be in the position the main character in here is. Goddess knows I think he should be.
By KateMarie Collins
(Originally uploaded April 2, 2010 to the yahoo Fantasy Writers group as a weekly challenge response)
The bell rang out pleasantly as the frail man entered the shop. The young woman behind the counter barely glanced up from the fashion magazine she read. That was fine, he thought to himself. He was after a specific title and doubted she’d be much help finding it.
A thin smile broke through the deep lines in his face as his fingers absently ran over the titles on the shelves. So many thoughts, so many ideas. The bored clerk really had no clue how much of a treasure her job was. If he worked someplace like this, if his body still let him work, he would be reading from the dusty tomes and not some rag that was more concerned with being someone else than yourself.
It took him several minutes to make it the few yards to the section of the store he was looking for. By the time he reached the shelves, the smile had gotten somewhat larger. There was a smell to a used book store that always made him feel good. The combination of dust and musty old pages could permeate into his soul and bring him out of every depression.
He stood, peering through his glasses at the rows of books in front of him. There, crammed in between other paperbacks, were three well read copies of what he was looking for. He caressed the spine of each one with a trembling finger. Tenderly, he removed one of them from its prison, freeing it gently. The other books moved to fill the space. He could almost hear a sigh of relief from them, the space more than welcome.
Grasping the book as best as his arthritic hands could, he shuffled back towards the counter and the bored clerk. She put down her magazine after he placed the book on the counter, clearly annoyed at having to give up reading it to do her job.
She rang up his purchase without really noticing the title. “$6.85” was all she said to him as she finally looked up at him.
Slowly, he reached for his wallet and his credit card. “You sell many copies of this book? I saw you had several on the shelves.” He kept his tone conversational.
That got her to look at the cover. She read the title and author briefly, shrugging her shoulders. “Tony Rudzki is pretty popular with the fantasy crowd I guess. When we do get his stuff in, it doesn’t last long.” She took the card from him, running it through the machine.
He signed the slip, handing it and the pen back to her. “Aren’t you going to ask for my i.d., miss?” he inquired.
Clearly irritated about not being able to go back to her magazine, she took a cursory glance at the name on the card and his identification. “Hey, imagine that. You’ve got the same name as the guy that wrote this.” She handed him back the cards and put the book into a small bag. Her eyes were already back on the magazine.
Tony smiled at her. “Yes, miss. And that’s the kind of immortality that all the fashion tips in your magazine won’t give you.”
He turned and shuffled out of the store, leaving the clerk to watch his departure with amazement.