The Chicken A Noise Makes When You Cut Its Head Off

As far as he knows, this is not a game they are playing.  He stalks his way through the stacks, the two books in his hand now forgotten as he looks for her.  The place is crowded with shelves and with tables displaying more books.  Every time he rounds a corner he thinks he sees a flash of her distinctive green coat but it is just a trick of the mind.  Anonymous readers stand and browse.

This is not a small bookshop.  It is a packed landscape with a breadth and depth of comprehensive completeness to rival the great hanging libraries of babylon.  He doubts that there is a book in existence that they do not sell here.

He spends a few hours looking for her and then sits down for a rest and to try and calculate the fraction of the shop which he has searched so far.  How could she wander off like that?  In here!  We don’t need this, he thinks.  We need to be more careful than that.  Then he wonders whether she is maybe looking for him and in his constant movement they have missed one another.  He is infused with a hotheaded energy – anger at himself and frustration with the situation.  But he knows that charging off again would be a bad idea.  What to do?  What to do?

He slumps into a chair which the bookshop has helpfully placed just there, picks the nearest book of the shelf and begins reading.  He reads the first few paragraphs and then turns back to the cover.  It has her name on it and this surprises him.  It is the kind of secret which makes him feel, again, like this is the kind of careless mistakes they need to stop making.

It makes him think of the word ‘precipice.’

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