Red Clutch

She sat, nose deep in the last few pages. I swatted at thick air, vainly aiming for the little buzzers pecking and bumping against my face. She looked up from her book, amused.

“Flies love you. Maybe you actually are dead.”

Maybe. My thumping heartbeat disagrees. As I watched that fine Roman nose delve deeper into the flaking papyrus, her eyes growing supernova as she reached the crescendo, I knew how alive I felt. Insects be damned; nothing beats sitting under a tree with the one you love as they have their life changed, 167 pages at a time.

I poked the embers of our bonfire with a stick and threw another strip of bark into the heart of it. She insisted on burning every book she finished and discussing it over the embers. Books serve their purpose and deserve a proper funeral…. apparently. Good or bad, they were all cremated. Sometimes she’d grab a cooling handful of ashes and smear them over her arms and cheeks, looking like a librarian dropped into Apocalypse Now.

I once asked her; ‘can you miss a place you’ve never visited before?’ She waved a novel in the air like a flag and gave me a ‘…the fuck do you think?’ look.

Finished, the latest opus sizzles and crackles, the plastic jacket melting as the pages turn black and red. Words and characters disappear, snapping and rising red into the night sky.

“I’m releasing them…” she said, looking at me sideways. “Before you ask…”