{12}

Karina is addicted to books. This is her story.

{Read it from the beginning by clicking here.}

Having gone to bed immediately after unloading her groceries, Karina wakes and rises before the sun.

Today is going to be a good day.

She makes herself breakfast: instant oatmeal with raisins and green tea with honey. She finishes the tea long before the oatmeal.

As the bowl grows cold, Karina’s attention turns to the clutter that has collected over the course of the week. Textbooks and papers scattered on the table from when she emptied her backpack to use it for groceries, fiction and poetry waiting to return home to the shelves, dishes stacked in the sink or on her bedside table…

She leaves her breakfast half-finished and fills her backpack with the things she’ll need for tomorrow’s classes. Then she hangs it on one of the hooks in the entry. She rearranges the other bags to create a neat line slanting downward left to right — the bag with the shortest handle first, and the one with the longest handle last.

The sun is shining behind the drapes in the front room, squeezing out around the edges in a sharp glow. She pushes them aside just enough to allow the sun and no one else to peek in.

The friends that have kept her company all week are sitting stacked at the foot of the bookshelf.

She picks up the first book and then hesitates. Three of the books have pink on their spines. She removes the others.

The three look so happy next to each other like that.

She lines up When We Were Very Young, The Return of the King, and A Little Princess on the empty top shelf. A Little Princess is pink with blue details on the spine. Sense and Sensibility is blue with pink details. She takes it from its place on a lower shelf and sets it beside its match. The old Nancy Drew books are all blue and follow Sense and Sensibility on the shelf.

She reaches for Now We Are Six, also blue. When her fingers touch it, she freezes. If she continues shelving books based on their colors she will be breaking up the set. She glances at the rest of her collection; there is more than one set of books that would be broken up by color-sorting.

Her finger slides up and down the spine of the little book.

It isn’t as if they've never been separated before…

Grandmother sent them one at a time, and of course they’re apart when she takes one or two out to read.

Karina decidedly removes Now We Are Six from its place and shelves it next to the other blue books.

Soon the top shelf is full. The neat transitions from one color to the next make her smile. That is until she notices a book that would make the transition even more smooth.

The color sorting consumes the better part of the day. For every book she finds a place for, there are two more that would be happier elsewhere. Finally Karina‘s empty stomach makes her leave the shelves to find some food. After lunch — or is it dinner? — she uses the last hour of sunlight to perfect her book rainbow. The fading light forces her to abandon the project. The moon is bright, but not bright enough.

It’ll have to do.