Short Story from original Spanish Language
Dissatisfaction is a diffuse pain.
It is not the suffering that a serious illness produces, it is more like the discomfort of a stone in the shoe or a scratch. But this lightness becomes unbearable if it is not solved.
The dissatisfaction in the writer is more like the abstinence that produces the attempt to quit an addiction, an abstinence that does not go away until you consume again. And I had been abstinent for many days! Therefore, I decided to go out and find a story, a dose that would calm my anxiety.
I wandered deep in thought, wallowing in my self-pity when I was suddenly aware that I had stopped in front of a bookstore door.
It was a very small and old place located in a forgotten alley where no one ever passed. As much as I remembered, I couldn’t remember how I got there, nor did I even know where I was in the city. The only thing I was sure of was that something inside me was forcing me to push that solid wood door darkened by time.
I looked through the shop windows to see if I could get an idea of what awaited me inside, but the dust and cobwebs allowed only the reflection of a fading, yellowish light to escape its fierce defense of the privacy.
I rested an indecisive hand on the doorknob and, as if an invisible force had helped me, I shoved the heavy door open. A musty musty smell slapped me, and the sound of the bell at the top startled me. The image that was shown before my eyes left me paralyzed in vain.
The store was actually a single long, narrow aisle. The walls on either side were lined with bookcases filled with sleeping spines of books of all colors, their skin tattooed with gold letters of different fonts. In that sea of tomes and tomes that held the privilege of getting rid of the dust and cobwebs that abounded everywhere, there was a common denominator, their antiquity. The newest was from the late 19th century. They also shared an amazing state of preservation, they looked brand new. They shone with their own light. In the narrow back wall there was a small counter, behind it, a door that seemed built for a gnome and, to the right, a fragile spiral staircase that lost itself inside a black hole in the floor.
With no signs of life, I rang a bell on the dusty counter. For a few seconds nothing happened, the silence was absolute.
But then I was aware of a shadow struggling to get through the gnome door, which I guessed gave access to the back room. When the shadow became corporeal, I discovered that he was too tall a fellow for this narrow, low-ceilinged place. In fact, his head was hitting, with every movement, the chandelier that hung from a beam and that was responsible for the dim light that escaped through the window.
The giant, dressed in a 1930s smock, looked at me with wide eyes behind the bottom lenses of his glasses:
– How can I help you, ma’am? – He asked me after the brief throat clearing that is needed when one has not spoken for a long time.
I, who kept trying to imagine how that big man had managed to get out through the gnome’s door, didn’t know what to answer. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing there. After a couple of minutes of awkward silence, I uttered a few stammering words: – I need, I need …
The strange clerk pointed his finger at me and yelled:
– Tell me no more, you need an idea!
I jumped back scared by his unexpected reaction and only managed to nod with a slight movement of the head.
The giant scratched at his tousled gray hair and narrowed his eyes with concentration. Then, adopting a professional tone, he said:
– Aisle 3, shelf 25, fourth shelf counting from the top. It bears his name.
Pointing me up the spiral staircase, he flipped a switch on the wall behind him. A reflection of bluish light emerged from the black hole in the ground. I looked into the abyss, which was not really such, it was just the entrance to a basement. Calmer I began to descend. When I got downstairs I was surprised to see that the so-called basement, which I imagined small and cramped like the store, was a huge room. My steps produced an echo that seemed to have no end. Apparently this space was full of bookshelves.
I looked for the one the giant behind the small counter had indicated. As I walked the corridors, I realized that the place was a warehouse for jars, glass containers in which millions of fireflies moved, emitting a fluorescent light of infinite shades. At the top and written in gold letters, each one bore an identification tag. There were all kinds of feelings, situations, experiences, anecdotes, stories …
When I arrived at my destination I was absorbed looking at the bottle that had been assigned to me and that, indeed, was marked with my name and filed as “dreams.” I did not quite understand what was happening, but as a sleepwalker, I grabbed it I went upstairs and approached the clerk and asked:
– What is owed?
– A good story!
And without further ado, he disappeared through the gnome’s door.
I went out into the street wondering how I was going to get home and what the hell were those bells that were destroying my eardrums. I looked to my left at the exit of the alley and what I saw was the wall of my bedroom.
I jumped up in bed, slapping the alarm clock that wouldn’t stop ringing. I ran to the computer and wrote this story. “
by Luisa Velez Vazquez©Collaborator