The Life of a Book

We are happy to share a creative short story written by one of our very own Library Ambassadors!

Jade Driscoll is a senior from Randville, MI who will be graduating in May with her bachelor’s degree in English/Creative Writing. This is Jade’s first year as a Library Ambassador, and she plans to remain in the program when she returns to CMU in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in creative writing. Jade is very active on campus as she serves as Director of Programming for the Larzelere Hall Council as well as the Larzelere Hall Desk manager and President of To Write Love on Her Arms, a national non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. Jade loves to write and share her writing with anyone she can, so we hope you enjoy this short story.

The Life of a Book

I had always been quiet. I never did anything to draw attention to myself, and I certainly never jumped out at anyone, screaming “Pick me!” like some of the others did. Instead, I hid in the shadows and the corners, knowing that the right person would come to find me if they really wanted.

I was grateful for my eyes because watching was exactly what I did best. I watched as some of the others were picked up and taken away. Eventually, most of them returned, but they were different. Some had an amazing time, they were sad to be back and immediately began throwing themselves in front of people to be chosen again. Others were not so lucky. They returned beaten, or torn, or stained, or missing some small piece of themselves. After a while, some of them would try to find someone else willing to take them, to give them a better experience in the world. If nothing else, they knew they were luckier than the ones who did not return at all.

I watched everyone return and leave again, and I listened to their stories, and I never wished I was in their place. I stayed in my place. I kept my head down. I avoided attention. Having my own stories of the world was not worth the potential harm when I could just watch everyone else.

Then one day, she found me. I do not remember her name, but I remember what she looked like. She had wispy grey hair falling out of a bun, and she was wearing pointed glasses and a navy sweater twice the size of her frail frame. Her veiny left hand was holding a handwritten list; she clearly knew exactly who she was looking for. She pushed past everyone who actually wanted to leave, and I began to panic with some of the other recluses.

Slowly, she came closer to me, and I held my breath. Before I knew what was happening, her hands wrapped around me tightly. Her skin was rough, and I could feel each individual bump of her spidery veins. I cried out, but she ignored me. A few of the others began to cheer for me; they were excited I was finally getting to experience the world on my own. I was terrified.
I closed my eyes as we moved. I did not want to know where we were going.

When she put me down and I opened my eyes, I was on a wooden table, and I did not recognize anyone around me. It was a relatively large table, with a sign that read “Celebrating Female Authors!” I took a deep breath, ruffled my pages. That was why I was there. That was why the woman hand-picked me.

For a while, I stuck to what I was good at; I watched the others throw themselves forward and walk out of the library with people, and I did my best to blend into the wooden-table-turned-display-case. It was not my shelf, though, and there were not many places to hide. I could not blend into the wood.

Nearly a week after the woman stole me from my home, another woman stole me again. Her name was Olive and her hands were much softer than the first woman’s. I could not feel her veins as she held me.

I spent almost another full week inside of a bag before Olive pulled me out again. I saw real sunlight and trees, and I felt the summer heat, and I heard birds sing. Suddenly, I understood why the others said the potential pain was worth it.

After Olive, it was John, and then Marsha, Bailey, Tyrone, Nina, Halle…

I showed them each the world inside of me, and, whether they knew it or not, they showed me a bit of the world, too. I learned that sand came in different colors, that the ground was made of individual blades of grass, that no two ladybugs sounded the same, that the rain withered my skin but cigarette ashes hurt it more, that sometimes the world wanted to fall apart, but the people never fully let it.

I never wanted to sit in the shadows again.

-By Jade Driscoll

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