A writer finds, in a used bookstore, the book she/he autographed as a gift to her/his lover.
Sally K. Parker woke up that mid-summer morning with a heart filled with pain. It was the 5 year anniversary of her lover's death. A tragic boating accident had stolen Kenneth from her. She will never forget the night the police came to her home. She had just finished her 7th novel when her doorbell rang. She stayed up, not only to finish her novel, but to wait for Kenneth's call. As she opened the door and let the police in, she felt a stabbing pain in the pit of her soul. When the police told her that they found his body, she dropped to her knees, sobbing uncontrollably. Five years later, that pain still haunts her.
Every year, on this day, Sally resorts to self-care. She takes the day to decompress and sort through her feelings. This year, she decided to drive an hour away to a used bookstore her publicist told her about. Sally needed inspiration for her next story, so she felt led to go on this journey.
Later that morning, Sally pulled into the small parking lot of the used bookstore. She sat in her black Ford Focus for a few minutes and closed her eyes. She focused on her breath, breathing in through her nose, and out through her mouth. She opened her brown eyes and looked in the rear-view mirror. Suddenly, she was horrified as she saw the vision of her dead lover, sitting in the back seat. Frightened, she turned toward the back seat and the vision disappeared. Sally grabbed her cell phone and purse and exited her car.
As Sally entered the used bookstore, she was welcomed with the scent of history, of knowledge, of leather-bound books. She felt safe in this bookstore. An elderly clerk welcomed her to the bookstore with a nod and smile. Sally smiled back as she made her way through the aisles.
Sally slowly walked through the fiction section, admiring the first edition leather bound books lining the shelves. She made her way through the alphabet and found herself at the P section. As with any writer, she looked to see if any of her books were on the shelves. In between two dark brown, leather-bound books, she saw the 6th novel she ever wrote: "He saved me." Sally grabbed the book from the shelves and held it close. It was a book she wrote about her love story with Kenneth. She dedicated the book to Kenneth, even giving him the first copy of the book. Sally ran her fingers along the front cover of the book and opened to see the inside. Sally's nostalgia turned to pain and disgust when she read the inside. She realized that this is the same book she gave to Kenneth 6 years ago. She read the message inside, the one she wrote specifically to him:
"My darling Kenneth. You have given be the best life imaginable. I have never felt so loved, so beautiful, and so safe, than I do in your arms. You have made me so happy, and I cannot wait to spend forever with you. I love you always forever, Sally K. Parker."
Tears welled up in her eyes as she closed the book. "Why would he sell this to the bookstore," she asked herself. Her cries caught the attention of the store clerk, who had gone to check on her. "Miss, are you okay?"
Sally looked up to see the elderly man who greeted her earlier. "Yes. Can I ask you a question? When did this book come in?"
Sally gave the clerk the book and he looked it over. He looked at her, tilting her head. "It's you. You wrote this book. Come with me."
Sally followed the clerk to the register, and she watched as he looked up the book. A few minutes later, he cleared his throat. "Yes, this book came in 3 years ago. A man about your age sold this book to me. He had brown hair, green eyes, and was about 6 foot tall. I remember him well."
Sally felt herself get sick. "What was the man's name," she asked the clerk.
The clerk shook his head. "Unfortunately, I cannot give out that information."
Sally took a breath. "Please. The man you described is my true love who died 5 years ago in a boating accident. I need to know who returned the book."
The clerk nodded his head. "The man's name was Ken Hoffman."
Sally turned white. "Thank you."
Sally left the store, as she became overwhelmed with the notion that Kenneth had faked his death. The betrayal and heartbreak were too much for her to handle. She collapsed in the parking lot.
A few minutes later, Sally returned to consciousness and noticed a man standing over her. As her vision cleared, she felt her heart fall into her stomach. A man of about 6-foot tall, dark hair, green eyes stood before her. She felt herself have an out-of-body experience as she whispered quietly, "Kenneth?"
The man, emotionless, responded. "Sally." He walked off into the bookstore. Sally propped herself on her elbow as she cried.