Karina is addicted to books. This is her story.

{Read it from the beginning by clicking here.}

Karina has a half hour before class. She scans the shelf for a quick read. Maybe a couple of favorite chapters or a picture book. Her eyes fall on The Book.

It reaches out to comfort her like it did in the church and curiosity gets the better of her.

The leather feels good in her hands. She sits on the floor and spreads The Book open to somewhere near the middle. The 2-column layout of short chapters with small numbers denoting individual sentences or phrases is disruptive at first, but soon it draws her in with its rhythm. It’s almost like counting beats while learning a new song — it’s grounding, stabilizing.

The Book is supposed to be full of “Thou-shalt-nots,” isn’t it? But she finds beautiful poetry at the heart of it. Passionate imagery. Blessings on the writer’s God and curses on his enemies.

This could make for an interesting enough read.

She skims the spread, then turns a handful of pages. Ah, here are the curses pronounced on people in general and not only on the evil. Here is the description of the wrath of God. A wrath so intense as to make humans more rare than fine gold, leaving infants dashed to pieces and wives raped.

Her throat tightens and she forces a swallow. She snaps The Book shut and drops it on the nightstand. The God of The Book is sickening.

Twenty minutes until class starts.

She grabs When We Were Very Young on her way out the door and reads as she walks. Poetry always calms her, especially poetry for children. Maybe it’s because it reminds her of a time when she could fit inside tight spaces, hidden away from grown-ups. Maybe it’s the simple, musical nature of the sing-song stanzas. Whatever it is, she needs it today.

She slips into the empty hall. Too early to go into the classroom. Almost too early, even, for students to begin congregating outside. But at least she’s far from The Book.

She flips pages, trying to find her favorite poems to give herself a distraction. After a moment, students appear in the hall and congregate in their cliques. She checks her phone: Nine minutes of free time to fill.

Karina waits for the crowd to thin as students jostle each other entering and exiting, then slips into a seat in the back corner and turns to the first page of her poetry book. Again she finds only frustration.

She checks her phone again: five minutes.

Why is the time crawling so slowly?

Never has she wanted class to start so badly. Not that it would calm her any better than a book.

Should have grabbed a novel.

She snaps the book shut in frustration and watches the minutes tick by on her phone screen. Four more minutes, if the professor starts on time. He’s plugging in a laptop to the projector now.

Three minutes. She tries to read another poem.

Two minutes. She pulls her notebook from her bag and sets it next to her phone.

One minute. Her fingers tap the spine of the poetry book as she searches the front of the room for any sign that the professor will, indeed, start class at the top of the hour.

Time’s up. The professor clears his throat as the screen lights up with a powerpoint promising neatly-bulleted lists to transfer to her notebook.