Florence Everley’s Book Emporium


The air smelled like fresh ink and warm paper. Light filtered through stained glass to adorn the spines of row upon row of books in the packed bookstore. There was no particular organization to the books that lined the shelves. In some places, romance books were double-stacked against treatises on human rights. Adventures lay next to tragedies stacked on top of instruction manuals. But for the regular patrons of the store, it didn’t seem to matter. There was something special about Florence Everley’s Book Emporium, but no one could quite define it. No one who came to the bookstore ever left without finding exactly the book that they needed.

A harassed-looking father stormed into the shop with a baby slung across his chest in a carrier and a series of shopping bags loading him down like a pack mule. He looked around the bookstore in confusion before stomping up to the front desk. His eyes were wide and frenzied.

“Where is the children’s section? I need to find the Moo Moo Achoo book,” he demanded.

Florence smiled warmly. “If you take a moment to look around, I’m certain you’ll find what you need.”

“But-” he spun around, then turned back to her. “I’m really in a hurry. My wife will kill me if I don’t get the book.”

The woman smiled again, her face soft and comforting. “It won’t take but a moment. I can help you with the baby while you look.” She held out her hands and the man stared at her for a moment before sighing.

“Yeah, actually, that would be great.” He set his bags down next to the front desk and carefully handed off the sleeping child. “Is there…anywhere I should start? I don’t see any sections.”

“Why don’t you try in the back?” she suggested. “I have a feeling you won’t be disappointed.”

The man walked to the back of the store, his eyes catching on titles here and there as he went. As he walked among the quiet bookshelves his shoulders began to relax and he smiled, remembering the many days he spent lost among the books at the library in the town where he grew up. His mother used to take him there every weekend and she would spend hours reading him stories.

He stopped walking. There, sitting on a shelf in front of him, was an old children’s book about a stuffed rabbit that lost its way trying to get back to the child it loved. For a moment, he was completely lost for words. It had been his favorite story, growing up. He’d never been able to find a copy of it, before. Couldn’t even remember the title. But the moment he laid eyes on the cover, he knew that this was the story he loved.

The man picked up the book and flipped through the pages, tears coming to his eyes at the fond memories of the time spent with his mother. He’d lost her when he was only a teenager. Seeing the book now, after all these years, made him feel like she was with him again, if only for the moment.

“Have you found what you need?” Florence asked. She bounced the baby lightly in her arms, and the baby cooed happily at the movement.

He turned toward her with a gracious smile. “Yeah. This is exactly what I needed.”

Florence smiled. “Books have a way of finding people, here. Why don’t you come with me and we’ll get you settled.”

“Yeah. That sounds great.” He followed the woman back to the front of the shop with the book clutched close to his chest.

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