Contemporary Fiction Inspirational

Into the Unknown

By Jalissa Mooney

What am I supposed to do now? That was the question running through my head, as I walked down the block of the new neighborhood I had just moved into last week. My apartment was still filled with boxes that were half unpacked and the uncertainty of the future was surrounding me. I was twenty-six years old and a college dropout, but what was the point of going to college when you’re heart wasn’t in it? When you were only attending college to please your controlling mother who thought she knew the best road for you to travel down. 

I crossed the street and started to head towards downtown, my favorite area of the city. I wasn’t a lazy person. I worked at Walmart to pay the bills and my biggest passion was books and writing. I had always dreamed of being a writer, but just as I had been told, getting published was harder than it looked. It took longer too. Somehow along the way, I had lost my spark for the one thing that I loved the most. Now, I was trying to get it back. 

Getting a book published took time, maybe more time than I originally thought. What would I do until then? The question was, what could I do that would make me happy while I continued to work towards my writing goals? As I walked into the shadow of the downtown buildings I passed the chocolate shop, the bread bakery, and across the street, I spotted the new bookshop that had opened up recently. I hadn’t had the time to go in yet, what with my withdrawal from school and the arguments with my mother. But I had nothing to do today except go back home and pack, something I wasn’t exactly looking forward to. So, I crossed the street and headed for the door.

Inside, I spotted a woman around my age, standing at the counter speaking with a customer. I took a look around at the shelves. There were new books along the walls and a shelf filled with personal recommendations from the owner. I quickly spotted several novels I had read in the past and many more titles that were on my list of books to read. When was the last time I read a new book, I wondered? Was that before I moved, or before the spring semester started? I couldn’t remember anymore. It had been a tough few months. 

When I made the decision to withdraw from school my mother was furious with me. She said that I wouldn’t have any good work skills if I didn’t finish school and I would never be a productive member of society. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. After that, I knew that I could no longer stay home, no matter how much cheaper it was on my budget. Two months after I left school, I left home as well. Much to my mothers' disappointment. Then again, when wasn’t she disappointed in me? 

I tried to shake the memories from my mind as I browsed the bookshelves and listened to the quiet chatter of the other customers. 

“Hi, are you looking for anything in particular?”

I turned around and saw the woman from the counter standing behind me. She was wearing a red scarf in her hair and matching pants with a white blouse. She looked much better than I felt. 

“Oh, no. I’m not looking for anything really. It’s just my first time in here.”

“Well, welcome to Book Barns, I’m Kathy,” she said, “and if you’re interested we have a wide selection of books from Tik Tok over in the corner of the store.”

“Oh, how nice. I see a lot of books on Tik Tok that I’ve been interested in.”

“Right? I’m on that app so much just to find the books people are interested in and talking about. We decided to include a display for them thinking that it will help some customers find the books they're looking for a little easier.”

“I might have a look at that.”

Kathy nodded and turned to help another customer while I walked towards the corner of the store. The small table held a sign and an assortment of books. I recognized several from Tik Tok and picked up a fantasy novel I had been curious about. This novel was very popular and I had planned to read it months ago, until the incident with leaving school. What happened to my love of books? I used to visit the library every other week like clockwork for a few new books. Now, it had been at least three months since I paid them a visit. After a moment I tucked the book into the crook of my arm, deciding to bring it home with me. 

I walked around the store for a while longer, finding another novel that was on my list to read. A biography about Stephen King and his writing process. Maybe these books would help me get back into my own writing process. I hadn’t put pen to paper in almost as long as I hadn’t picked up a new book. I decided it was time to head home, so I took the books and headed up to the counter to check out. 

“Did you end up finding something after all,” Kathy asked?

“I did, I wasn’t expecting to but I have been meaning to read these two for a while now.”

She scanned the first book and then the second, totaling them up. 

“Would you like to be added to our mailing list to hear about new book deals and events at our store?”

“Sure,” I replied. After giving her my email address, she pulled out a paper bag with the stores' logo and started to pile the books inside. However, one book slipped out of her hands and fell onto the floor.

“Oops, I’m sorry,” Kathy reached down to pick up the novel. “Hey, this is Stephen King's memoir. I loved this book. It got me out of a huge slump.”

“You were in a slump,” I asked?

She smiled, “Yes. I’m not famous or anything, but I do write and submit to different places. Only a handful have been published so far, but I was in this slump for a year and I couldn't write a single word. This was one of the books that helped me to realize that I was trying too hard and not letting myself breathe.”

I looked at her thoughtfully, “I enjoy writing to, but currently I’m in the middle of my own slump of sorts. It hasn’t been quite that long though.”

“Even a week without writing is too long. I remember feeling as though I was going to be stuck forever and never able to write another word. I even got depressed for a while. Reading about other writers and their struggles helped me get out of my own.”

“I see. Then why are you working in a bookstore?”

I own this store. I realized that I loved other people's books as much as I loved writing my own. I decided to open a bookstore and enjoy my time in between writing. It’s a lot of work but also a lot of fun.”

She handed me the shopping bag and I said goodbye. 

On my way home I was thinking about Kathy and what she had said. After a year in a slump like my own, she found a way out and even found what she wanted to do when she wasn't writing. How could I do that? I looked down into the bad I was holding. Maybe the key was patience and determination. I was determined to regain my passion for writing but the next step might be that I needed to be patient. Things happen for a reason in order we are not usually expecting. I had realized that school wasn’t the right path for me and then I moved out of my mother's house to be able to make all my own decisions. That was the first step in the right direction. I felt a new spring in my step and a rush of confidence. 

Looking forward I saw the sun begin to set on the horizon. 

February 19, 2022 20:04

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RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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