by Gail Farrelly
Gail has shared many wonderful short stories with us and we are happy to have this Valentine’s Day one to share with you!
The song claims “Love is a many splendored thing.” Rubbish!
Okay, maybe it is “splendored” sometimes; but in my brief experience, well, not so much. It’s an on-again, off-again kind of thing.
I’m an Amazon Kindle, one of those little electronic book devices that can hold tons of books. My owner is a twenty-something, self-proclaimed lover of books. Her name is Roberta Reader. She sleeps in a shirt that reads “a book lover never goes to bed alone,” and she carries a tote bag imprinted with the words of Thomas Jefferson: “I cannot live without books.” The bookshelves in her apartment are overflowing.
My relationship with Roberta isn’t always a smooth one. In fact, it didn’t have a good beginning. I was given to her as a gift; at first, she wasn’t pleased. She muttered that technology could take over the rest of the world but she wasn’t going to allow it to take over her world. She even threatened to take me back to the store where I was born. (Yes, this is the “she loves me not” part of the story!) For a while, I was not at all welcome in that household. Roberta’s so-called real books snickered behind my back, confident in their superiority.
Then a funny thing happened. Well, funny to me, anyway, though not to my owner. One night Roberta tripped over some classic books, (the biggest bullies who had aligned themselves again me!) stacked near her couch in the living room. She broke her wrist and sprained her ankle and was home from work for ten days.
Roberta ran out of reading material on the third day. In a foul mood, she grabbed me out of my little packing case (which she had hidden in the back of her closet), pushed a few buttons, and screeched, “Show me what you can do.” She downloaded the latest book by her favorite mystery writer, adjusted the size of the type, and settled down for a nice long session. And so it went for the next few days. She downloaded several more books and read to her heart’s content. (This is the “she loves me” part of the story!)
Trouble arrived when Roberta’s friend came for a visit one afternoon, bearing a get-well gift — a copy of the book at the top of The New York Times current list of bestsellers. Roberta and her friend talked about how a hardcover book was the perfect gift and how nothing could replace the feel of paper and the sight of the printed page. This brought back, they claimed, so many memories of when they had first learned to read. Roberta had the nerve to pick me up and say scornfully that she had found me useful as a temporary stopgap when she couldn’t get to the library or a bookstore but that I wasn’t the same as a real, live book. Imagine the gall of that woman. Traitor! No concern for my feelings at all.
I got back at her on Valentine’s Day, the day that Roberta returned to work. She took me with her, since I weigh so little and am easy to read on the subway. I was still mad at her, so I didn’t provide top-notch service. On the way home, I took my time when she attempted to turn my pages and I blurred the print a little. Okay, okay, I admit it. I wasn’t being so nice. But then look what she said about me! Anyway, I wasn’t surprised (but a little disappointed) when, after dinner that night, she went to her bookshelf and selected a thick volume of the works of Dickens. But guess what? It turned out she didn’t select it for reading. Roberta took the huge volume and used it as a doorstop for her bedroom door. Eureka! She then scooped me up, settled herself in her rocker, and picked up where she had left off in the novel she was reading on the subway. I breathed a sigh of relief. Our spat was over, at least for now.
So, on the evening of Valentine’s Day, all was well with Roberta and me. Of course, it isn’t always that way. I live with the situation as best I can. I have even managed to make peace with the traditional books (those other guys) that line Roberta’s shelves. After the Valentine’s Day slight of the volume of Dickens, we realize that we’re all in the same boat — subject to the whim of a woman. After all, as Frederic Reynolds wrote in The Will:
“As for the women, though we scorn and flout ‘em,
We may live with, but cannot live without ‘em.”