A Books Life


Allison Jenks '25, Writer

You’ll never know my real name.

     If I’m being honest I don’t truly know my own name. I’ve heard a few people say it, yes; but how can I be truly certain, absolutely positive, that it’s my name?

      I was born in a publishing house circa 1950. (That means I am, in the wise words of Aurora, “like super old’). It seems like it was just yesterday. Who knows maybe it was yesterday. Books don’t have the greatest perception of time.

     Standing there on that display, gosh, I was dazzling in the morning sunlight. The line of people was practically around the corner, I was a brand spanking new book for Pete’s sake! Everyone wanted to purchase me. Man, how it felt great to be young and excited.

     When the customers were finally let in I was grabbed by the first greedy hands, tossed onto the counter, and bagged. Then we were off.

     The outside world was unimaginable. At the time I had only seen the publishing house, the inside of an extremely crowded cardboard box, and then finally the shelf display case.

     What a peculiar feeling it is; to be read by someone. The most important thing to me was telling my story, and I was pretty dang good at it too. Page after page, chapter after chapter, human after human, I told my story. 

     Eventually the rush of people reading died down, and I could feel my pages brittle over time, my spine cracking, even my dust jacket tearing.

     No longer was I passed from human to human, but instead placed on a new shelf. Well, not new. Actually, it was very, very old. It sagged with the weight of the other miscellaneous items not-so carefully placed on top of it. It wasn’t nuzzled by the fire or strategically placed in a bookstore. No, I wasn’t even on a shelf with other books!

     Actually, that’s a lie. There was another book on that shelf, a children’s book only about seven pages long and had to be a hundred times that in age. 

     To this day, I don’t know what that place was, but I stayed there for what I believe to be a very long time.

     Most people skimmed by me, few bothering to take me down off the shelf and dust me off, even fewer bothering to look through my pages. 

     All until one day.

     A girl had walked into the store, her eyes bright, her grin wide.

     Did you know books judge humans? I know, it’s ironic given the saying, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. 

     But alas, we judge.

     We know a good reader from a bad one, someone with a heavy hand that’s going to manhandle pages compared to a light touch; even before the human picks us up.

     But this girl, something was special about her. She could be compared to that first ray of sunlight that had hit my cover in the bookstore all those years ago; that ray of hope to tell my story. The need to.

      She had walked around the store a few times, and I thought she was going to leave, disappear forever and never come back. When suddenly she walked towards my shelf. 

All I could do was hope, just hope that she would pull me off the shelf and let my pages flutter open.

     But when she actually did, well I couldn’t believe my own words!

     She actually did it. The girl had pulled me down from the shelf and dusted off my cover before gently peeling it back and reading. Her eyes twinkled as her mind danced across the page. 

     My story was being told again! 

     She had only finished Chapter One when she shut my cover and brought me to the front of the store.

     Later on, I would learn through careful observation that her name was Aurora, and that she would become my best friend.

Aurora spent day and night reading and annotating my pages. Her pen tickled as her words flew across my margins.

     “Genius! Genius! This author is a mastermind of literature!” She would call out to no one in particular, but I liked to think she was talking to me.

     “Everyone loves that line,” I would say to her. “Best line in the entire story,” I would talk to her even if I knew there would be no response.

     I had noticed that her writing in the margins were not only commenting on the story, but creating her own. She would dance around the room when a realization would come over her; whether that was in the story or in her own writing, she would get up and dance about the room.

     “You are my muse! You wonderful, wonderful book,” she had given me a big kiss right smack on the cover of the book.

     Aurora read and reread my story, always having things to add, not only to my pages but to hers as well.

     One day, she seemed extra excited and I couldn’t quite figure out why. I only knew that when the next day rolled around and she plucked me off her desk then gently placed me into her bag we were off to a new, unknown place.

     When we arrived at the new location, something felt oddly familiar. I was taken out of Aurora’s bag and quickly understood why. We were back at the bookstore!

     Obviously, not the same one in which I was sold, but alas it was a bookstore. When people began lining up in front of the table that she was sitting at I was overcome with confusion. 

     At first I wondered if maybe I was being sold again and couldn’t help the sadness that came over me. But then I realized that couldn’t be right, I was much too old and broken to be sold, especially in a bookstore.

     At that point I had noticed another book beside me, it was glittering and new and looked as if it had just come out of a publishing house. It reminded me of the first time I was in a bookstore, how I looked like that.         Aurora was signing copies of this new book, all identical, and all brand new. 

     Someone finally asked what I was doing here, and if I could speak I would have said, “Precisely. What am I doing here Aurora?”

     With that same sweet smile that she had the first time I saw her, she replied “this book is a classic, and what originally gave me inspiration for my work. I wouldn’t be here without it,” She gave me a loving tap.

    I understood what was happening then. Her story was finally being told! I swelled with pride, happy that she could be a storyteller like me, and happy that I helped get her there.

    Throughout her life, Aurora went on to write many wonderful, award-winning stories, and I stayed at her side through it all. Now, I sit lovingly alongside many stories, all of which are her own work. The shelf is kept in prime condition and sits in a cozy living room. Every now and then I am taken down from the shelf and read by Aurora’s daughter. I wish to say Aurora was still with us, but sadly a human’s life does not last as long as a piece of literature. A book’s life is not as boring as one would think.