Let's get one thing straight - even though I love the smell of a new book, I'm more than happy to keep sniffing them in secret.
We all have our guilty pleasures and if sniffing the pages of a book is something that brings you even the slightest hint of joy, then you won't find me interfering. However, my cousin Leda, didn't seem to share that sentiment. She was going to a book sniffing convention this Friday evening.
And naturally, I wanted to investigate. Mainly so that I could hold her to this very night for the rest of our lives - as one usually does.
So I told her to keep me posted and here we are, driving to what might be the biggest laughing stock of all of America.
"You think this is stupid, don't you? " her naturally higher pitched voice asked from the driver's seat. I fought to keep myself from laughing, but I couldn't stop my smile.
"Nope. " She could tell that I was lying. I had laughed right along with my teenage brother when she told us about this group. I never thought that Leda was an idiot, but this was downright ridiculous, if I were being honest.
She sighed heavily, "Just don't embarrass me, please. " I chortled, "I'm series, Jade! " I nodded wordlessly whilst pursing my lips.
I really wasn't planning on embarrassing her in front of others. I was really curious of what these people would be doing. Would everyone just silently be sniffing the pages of books like some creepy cult? Or would they somehow discuss the smells of the different covers, or genres? I was sure that they wouldn't actually be discussing the real stories; otherwise, they would just be called a damn 'book club'.
Instead, they're catchphrase is: Sniffing Books Must Be Normalised.
It was another half an hour drive and we finally pulled up to the place. It was a small red building which sat a road away from a gas station. There were a lot more cars than I had expected. A little over a dozen at least. The building had a sign that read 'LIBRARY'.
Well, no shit.
The place was well lit and the gas station was pretty busy for the hour that we were arriving. The sun was quickly vanishing over the horizon and the roads were almost bare. Like in the city, there was trash all over the streets and a couple people hanging around the library to smoke and converse.
"Looks good. " Leda smiled at me, her dark brown eyes sparkling.
I nodded simply and followed her out of the car. We could hear loud music and the sound of laughter from outside. Leda knocked on the rusty door and I looked around whilst we waited for someone to answer. I felt a little more at ease with our current location when I noticed that no one was really paying attention to us - they just seemed like they were hanging out with their buds for the evening. And then the door opened.
"Hi! Welcome, welcome! " I turned back to see a man with a wide stance, round belly and a huge smile on his face. He was holding a Sprite and had a handknitted, 'I HEART BOOKS! ' sweater on.
Leda and I greeted him and he shook our hands individually, the smile never left his face.
"It's nice to have you both here. You can come in! Everyone's in here. " he stepped aside and I saw that some of the book shelves were pushed closer together to allow other people to mingle inside. Everyone else had smiles on their faces as well. They all held books or drinks, and spoke and laughed.
Not exactly what I was expecting. I was definitely leaning into the cult vibe.
"Thanks, so much! " Leda took my hand and guided me inside whilst I stared at all of the posters in the room which spoke about enjoying the little things and even a few printed out memes of book lovers that I ended up smiling at.
"You want drinks? Or some biscuits? "
"No, thanks. " I replied smiling and Leda also shook her head, "I'm Jade. This is Leda. " I pointed between us.
"What do you do here? " Leda asked, excited.
"I'm Nigel. " he smiled and his hair shook on his shoulders as he laughed heartily, "We like discussing books and shows. Stuff like that. We share stories about the crazy stuff we think about too - like that! " he pointed to a meme on the wall.
"When the plot is so good that you want to set the book on fire and scream for the god's to give you strength.... "
Leda and I laughed together. It seemed like such a basic meme, but we all knew that it was a hundred percent true. When we looked back at Nigel, he had a bowl of chips in his hand. Leda and I both grabbed a few and I smiled at the absolute absurdity and simultaneous brilliance that I was starting to notice.
"And I cried! He thought that if he gaved me a custom-made 'Game of Thrones' dire wolf magazine, I'd love it- "
"And you didn't!? " I asked Charlize, my eyes wide as we spoke and ate some cookies.
"No, no! I loved it! " she laughed aloud, "But all I could think about was how they kept killing them off on the show!"
I chuckled again, my stomach starting to hurt. I wondered if I should stop eating all the food.
"So, what did he do? " I asked.
The middle-aged woman shook her head whilst laughing, "He bought me some Taco Bell. But, don't worry. I told him about me being a cry baby. Think I traumatized him for the rest of my birthday's though. " she shrugged.
"That sucks. "
"He'll get over it eventually, I think. " she smiled, again.
"Probably. It's almost like a time when a favorite character of mine died and I practically sobbed alone in bed. It wasn't pretty, I'll tell you that - "
I never thought that I'd be thinking this, but I actually really liked this place. Everyone was really nice and had some amazing stories to tell. I half expected to find them worshipping a pentagon on fire.
We spoke about different kinds of things, not only books, but real experiences. So far, I had found some really interesting people and I was glad that I did. Leda was speaking to some other people of her own.
We'd still never left each other's sights, but I knew that she was really enjoying it here, too. The music was extremely loud, but perfect for the atmosphere, surprisingly. There was food and drinks and lots of people with similar interests. I was glad that I had come.
However, after three hours of staying, both my cousin and I decided that we would be leaving. We said our goodbyes to all the awesome people in the convention and even exchanged phone numbers with Nigel. And then we walked out of the library.
The music was now echoing into the night and we walked to where we had parked our car.
"I was right, huh? " Leda said, smugly.
I rolled my eyes, but allowed a nod of agreement, "It wasn't as creepy as I had first thought. It was nice. "
"Mhm - oh. "
Leda and I both came to a halt as our eyes scanned the parking lot. At first, I thought that we had gone to the wrong spot. Until I spotted the broken glass on the asphalt. There was nobody in sight and no way for us to get home. Unless we asked strangers in a damn convention.
My hands and jaw clenched with fury. The car was stolen and we didn't hear it. . .
"You have to be fucking kidding me. I'm never gonna let you live this down."