She stood there, staring at the bookcase, the sunlight filtering through the glass and brightening up the names so exquisitely shining on each spine. Raising a hand against it, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. It was going to be hard to let go, she realised with a sinking heart. These books had meant the world to her brothers and she knew if they were here, they’d never let her give them away. But she was helpless against the tide of events and it wasn’t like she hadn’t tried. She had begged the lawyers to let her take away the books, at least some of them. She had offered money for them too. But they couldn’t do anything, they had informed her, seemingly regretful. It was what the new owner had wanted apparently; the entire house or nothing. Heartbroken, she had reluctantly agreed; there was nothing she could do. Neither did she have the means to maintain the big mansion nor did she want to live in such a huge house, all alone. Not to mention the fact that she needed the money badly. And with all her family gone for good, she had to move on, and the memories inside the house were overwhelming.
Slowly, she opened her eyes and an old book came into her view; it was her copy of Alice in Wonderland, the first book her father had gifted her. Her head swam as millions of memories washed over her. Memories of her father reading to her, of her brothers and her sitting on the porch poring over a single book, weekends when they raced against each other to see who could read the most and almost always losing to their father. “Books are our friends. Especially those gifted by people who love you.”, he used to tell them. Her eyes swam with unshed tears as she realised that after today, she would not only lose the only home she had ever had but also all her friends. Slowly, opening the bookcase, she took out the old book, opened it and saw her father’s familiar writing. It was gut wrenching as she stared at the top right corner where he’d scribbled in the date of purchase. It was an age old habit; none of them ever wrote a name on any of the books they bought, just the date. Caressing the inked numbers with her thumb, she swallowed her tears and whispered, “I am sorry.”
A throat cleared behind her, startling her. Whirling around, she saw it was their family lawyer, staring at her with evident sadness in his eyes. She knew it was hard on him too, after all her father had been his best friend. He didn’t come forward but instead focused on the book in her hands. “I am sorry it had to be like this. You know I would do anything for you but this is beyond my power. It’s time to say goodbye, dear. Let me walk you out.” She shrugged, “It’s okay. I know you did what you had to. Why don’t you go ahead? I’ll be done in a minute and I’ll walk myself out.” The old man sighed but nodded in understanding and walked out. Turning back, she replaced the book inside and shut the case. Leaning her head against it, she sighed. “I will miss you. I always will.”
Walking through the old corridors was no easy task; every wall seemed to whisper about happier times. As she reached the door and looked back at the house staring down at her, she suddenly felt oddly peaceful. It was as if she knew that she’d be fine and that she would always have her family, her home and her books in her heart. But today, goodbyes needed to be told. As she stared, she remembered the last thing her father had told her, “The books with the most wrinkled spines are the ones you always turn to despite having read them over and over again. They are your home. And if you lose them, don’t worry because they never punish you. They forgive, always. And you know, it isn’t that hard to find a new home. You just have to set your heart on it.”
She turned and walked away, with a sad smile playing at her lips but with peace in her eyes.