[Flash Fiction] Between the Shelves

A/N: Update! There’s now a prequel to this story, another short titled ‘The Bookfeet’

The arch-window door opened with a jingle that signaled my entrance. I breathed in a combination of musty wood and a crisp hint of lemon. The crimson curtains, tucked at the sides of the floor- to-ceiling window by bronze tassels, blocked the heat of the sun and kept the store cool and comfortable.

“What are you looking for today?” A man sat in a plush armchair in front of the window, dressed smart as always in a gray cardigan and tie. He glanced up from the small table that was holding his laptop, a stack of thick-bound books, and what looked liked financial forms, dollar signs scattered here and there.

“Not sure.” I gestured to the store. “I’ll just browse.”

“Take your time.” He smiled before returning to his work, fingers clacking on his laptop as his eyes scanned the inside cover of a book at the top of the pile.

My legs moved of their own accord, weaving around the casual stacks of the books on the floor. My fingers trailed the shelves next to me, feeling spine after spine. Most of the spines were creased and had the roughness that came from being shared by many people.

I turned the corner and was faced with a young girl wearing jeans and a loose top. Her blonde hair was tied back in a messy ponytail, and she was stretched out on another plush armchair, absorbed in a book. Around her, I glimpsed a dark-haired spectacled boy waving a wand, a slender blonde-haired male holding a bow walking next to a scruffy man in a ragged cloak, and dragons of every size and colored scale imaginable. The fantasy section.

I kept on walking and peeked around the next shelf. There was another armchair, this one empty, and a man who looked like he was in his early twenties, sprawled on the floor, his long legs reaching across the aisle. He had earphones plugged into his ears, and he glanced up as he flipped a page. We exchanged gazes before his eyes darted back down to his book. Next to him sat an old, green-skinned creature meditating, and a man leaning against a blue box twirling what looked like a screwdriver. The science fiction section.

As I kept walking past smooth wooden bookshelf after smooth wooden bookshelf, I glimpsed a tall, thin man with high cheekbones in a trench coat in the mystery section, a short-brown-haired girl resting her head on a boy’s shoulder, oxygen tank next to her in the romance section, and identical twin girls with blank eyes mouthing the word “redrum” to me in the horror section.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” The gray-cardigan-man glanced up at me when I had walked a full circle around the bookstore. He was at the counter now handing books wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine to a red-haired teenage girl in a yellow sundress. She said a quick ‘thanks!’ and rushed out the door.

“I think I did.”

The man eyed my empty arms and gave me a small smile. “Next time, you should buy a book.”

“Next time, I will.” I smiled back and with a wave, stepped out of the store, shielding my eyes against the blazing sun as the door closed behind me with a soft chime.

© Jade M. Wong 2016

Yup, you got it. Still dusting off some old stories for old Writing 101 prompts. 

TRIVIA FUN! There are 6 7 references (Thanks to lovessiamese for spotting a How To Train Your Dragon one)  to specific books, TV shows, and movies in this story. Bonus points to whoever finds and names them all! 😉


28 thoughts on “[Flash Fiction] Between the Shelves

  1. I feel like I should apologise but I actually liked the first story better, although unless I’m confused the first story was in fact the second story and I think it shows that you are growing as a writer and if I’ve got that wrong than, please take it as a compliment anyway. I feel mean saying this but for some reason your simile at the beginning of the story didn’t work for me. I thought why does an ageing forest, in autumn smell like lemons? and it threw me out of the story, right at the start, onto my pale, wobbly, out of shape butt, when damn I wanted to stay in there.
    My other problem was that after the first book section description I was thinking Oooh I wonder what’s in horror? and then when at last we got to horror, I found ‘gory stuff that nightmares were made of!’ And hot damn, me and my fridge full of severed heads, were very disappointed let me tell you! and you should never let down my special little guys, disappointment gives them migraines you know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t apologize, Rebekah! As a matter of fact, I want to thank you for being honest and giving your feedback. It’s feedback like yours that will help me grow as a writer. You bring up a good point about what an aging forest has to do with lemons lol. I just always liked the smell of lemons so I threw that in there xD and hmm, I can see how the horror line is a little weaker compared to the others. I’ll be tweaking that a little.

      Please don’t be shy about leaving your honest opinions on my writing in the future :)!


  2. Good writing paves the way through a story. Excellent writing drives the reader down the paved road (totally just made that up and I think it needs serious work). Your writing is like slipping into a comfortable luxury car and being driven wherever you want the reader to go. Oh, and I love this line – Most of the spines were creased and had the roughness that came from being shared by many people.

    Could really use some adverbs, though.

    Again – well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ok, you have to stop complimenting me like this. I’m flattered left and right here! *fans self* Thank you immensely. It really means a lot to me that you enjoy my writing so much. I have half a mind to print your luxury car metaphor and tape it on my fridge for a daily boost of happiness lol

      Also, your good writing vs excellent writing, very philosophical for being thought up on the spot. You should copyright that quote, ASAP.


    1. Oh Wow, that is an amazing compliment. Thank you so much!

      I’ve actually been neglecting my writing for a while due to Life and I joined Writing 101 to get me back in a daily writing habit, mostly. I’ve been having a lot of fun with these challenges too :D.

      Btw, I love reading your responses to the prompt as well. You’re a great writer yourself.


      1. I loved this! Do you have anything published? I want to read more. I think I figured out four of the references but not sure if they are correct: Harry Potter, The Neverending Story, Splintered, and How to Train Your Dragon. Think the trench coat may be Dick Tracy or U.S. Marshals, or maybe Men In Black. Lots of fun reading this.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you so much for the compliment! No, I’m not an author, I just blog and write fanfiction, for now lol. As for the references: Whoa, I did not realize How To Train Your Dragon fits in the “dragons of every size and colored scale”, so extra extra points to you! lol

          Harry Potter is spot on 😀


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