She entered the library and headed straight to her usual seat that overlooked the sea. She wore a denim dungaree and sneakers; eyes staring at the horizon through the huge vintage glasses on her face. After she was done looking at the sea, she tied her hair up in a messy bun, not caring of her whereabouts. The Library was her home away from home. She had friends here, from different eras, different parts of the world, with different languages, different thoughts that they had put on paper for her to read, for her to get lost in. Their words, she would carry home. Their words, she would spread. She was in love with them. After all, that is what books and writers are meant for – to fall in love with. For several years now, she had been coming here to spend her days. She always wanted to become a writer but never knew what to write, so she kept reading.
The next evening too, she came there. That day she was a little late, so she hurried her way to her seat. The moment she almost reached there, she stopped suddenly and stared at the seat, breathing heavily, hands resting on the waist; her petite figure slightly bent of exhaustion, but not so much conspicuous due to the oversized sweatshirt. It took her almost a minute before accepting the fact that someone else was sitting there. Disappointed, she turned to another seat. She couldn’t read that day. She spent most of the time looking at him, on her seat, and then planning for the next day so she reaches on time.
The next day, she hurried to the seat. He was there again.
The next day, he was there again.
The fourth day she could not handle it. It disturbed her how she could not focus on the books and instead, thought only of her seat being occupied. She went up to him and said, “Excuse me.”
He was lost staring at the sea.
He gently asked, “Isn’t the sea beautiful?” still looking.
She suddenly forgot about the excuse me part. She too started looking at the sea. “Yes, it is.” She smiled.
He nodded and asked, “What did you have to say?”
She couldn’t dare to interrupt the beauty he saw. She smiled, “This is a great seat that you’ve chosen. Enjoy reading.”
The next day, she saw her seat vacant. She went up to it, looked at it and then turned around for another place. That day, she didn’t read. Instead, she took out a notebook and a pen. She started writing. After she had written some lines, she looked up and saw that he was there; on her seat. She smiled again and bent her head a little to look at the sea past him, from a little distance this time, though. Then she continued with her writing.
The sixth day, she came and took the other seat again. He came at his usual time. He sat there and looked at the sea for minutes before digging his face into a book. She looked at him and kept looking for a very long time before she could write. After a few minutes of writing, she stood up and started walking in the library, but she wasn’t searching for a book.
He was there again. He found a note on the desk. It read:
“There’s a cabin at the end of the hall. It overlooks the sea and has two seats.”
He took the note and walked to the end of hall. She was on one of the seats. He sat on the other one. Both of them smiled out of their similar profound love for the sea, for its beauty, for its calmness, for their understanding of how it had survived centuries playing hide and seek with its companions – the Sun and the Moon, and for the joy of the stars when they looked into their limitless mirror on Earth!
He saw she was writing. For the next two weeks, every day, they would sit there. He read his books, looking at her once in a while, thinking that she was turning pale, and he would blame the notebook for all the stress. She continued with her writing. He didn’t turn up on Sundays. She would still write in the expectation of Mondays.
But this Monday was different. She wasn’t there. He came and was a little surprised by not seeing her there. He reached to the desk and found a notebook on it. It was the same notebook she used to write in. Bewildered, he picked it up. There was a letter with it.
Dear unknown companion,
Thank you for being the inspiration for this story. I hope you won’t pick up a book today, and read my story in its stead. This is my first work of writing. I had always wanted to write a book. You made me write it. All these years I have looked at the sea day by day and I never stopped admiring its beauty. It was like my mirror of thoughts. It helped me think. That day when you took my seat, I was forced to look at you every time I wanted to look at the sea. I found out that people are beautiful too. I had started thinking about you. And now that I wasn’t so close to the sea, I had started appreciating it more. From that distance, I could see its expanse more clearly. I could see other things too – the people, the book shelves. My perception broadened. I started writing, then.
You can take that seat again. I can’t come now. Sorry for leaving you alone in the library. I was being treated at the Cancer Institute. Today is my last day. I will wait for you beyond the sea. Look through the horizon whenever you miss me. I will wait there when the sun will set every day. I will tell the sea how we admire it. Death should be beautiful.
Keep inspiring more people like me. And yes! I secretly loved and envied your choice of books. I am glad that these books are the witness to my love.
This story is for you.
Your unknown companion
He could not believe what he had just read. He rushed from the library to the Institute, breathing heavily and praying, confused and crying. He reached. She was gone!
The story was published – International Bestseller! She became a writer, resting in the same Library. He became a lover!