Ainslie runs a thin finger along the spines of the old books. “Take as many as you want,” Gran said. Ainslie frowns. There must be a kajillion books here and not a single graphic novel or zombie story in the entire mess. The shelves overflow and more books erupt from cardboard boxes. Some are stacked into a side table for the worn armchair.
“C’mon slowpoke.” Her mother’s hectoring voice booms up the stairs.
Gran’s downsizing or, as she calls it, getting ready to die. She wants her only grandchild to take some of her most prized possessions, her books. She’d let Ainslie take all day but Mum has less patience, with everything.
“Don’t rush her,” Gran says, her tone soothing. “I want her to make good choices.”
Ainsley upends one of the boxes. Frankenstein ! This is more like it. The pages crackle with age and someone has scribbled their name on the inside but it’s the best thing she’s found so she tucks it into her backpack. Below that is a copy of Peter and Wendy with old-fashioned black and white plates. The hinges are split in places but she likes the pictures and bags that one too.
“Get a move on.” Mum’s words prickle with irritation. Next she’ll be threatening to leave Ainsley behind. She’s done that before today and it took Ainslie an hour and a half to get home by bus.
Ainslie flips the books fast until one with a plain cover catches her eye. The Story of O by Pauline Réage. At last, something modern. She’s played The Land of OOO at her best friend’s place several times. She’ll have to stop there on the way home and show her this prize.
© Maggie Bolitho
Picture from Wikimedia Commons: Frontispiece to Mary Shelley, Frankenstein published by Colburn and Bentley, London 1831. Steel Engraving in book 93 x71 mm.
Author: Theodor von Holst