The Inherently Romantic Nature of Rearranging Bookshelves

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

            "What would you do if I kissed you right now?" He said it matter-of-factly, wiping his glasses as he did. Mindy continued removing the dusty old books from their shelves, unfazed. It was a passive question, an inquiry seeking acceptance before any form of action. And for a moment, she considered not telling him the truth, but as she gripped the faded leather binding of Cyrano de Bergerac she smiled and said,

            "You already have."

            "No I haven't" He protested. His baffled expression causing her to let out a low laugh.

            "My freshman year." She reminded. Danny put his glasses back on and ran his fingers through his hair.

            "You must have only been what- eighteen?" He said, mentally attempting to do the math while picking up the impressive stacks of novels she removed.

            "Nineteen." Mindy corrected. Danny gave her a wry smile as he placed a Hemmingway on top of a Whitman so carefully it was as if he were handling the Shroud of Turin. There was another silence as she watched him sort them. She could never truly understand the order he wanted them in. And it didn't matter anyway because he would only ask her to help rearrange them again every few months. But Mindy didn't really mind, she loved to watch as he pondered each title, uniting it with the noble comrades that would join it back on the shelf. He handed her the stack back, resorted, and she began her ritual.

            "Was it good?" Danny asked.

            "Forgettable, apparently." Her voice was accompanied by the rhythmic thuds of the greatest works in history finding their place again.

            "I wouldn't forget that." Danny insisted. Mindy paused again, sure that Persuasion was even more worn from when she'd last seen it. Perhaps that was one of Danny's favorites. She smiled imagining him in one of his baggy sweaters, curled up with the words of Jane Austen and trying desperately but helplessly to uncover the mysteries of the human heart. "No- I remember now." Danny said suddenly, handing her a mug of hot tea he had prepared while she was lost in her own thoughts, an Austen man indeed.

            "No you don't." Mindy took a sip from her mug.

            "I do, I remember." He repeated. "Weren't you wearing a little tank top?" She laughed again; the phrase "tank top" was so foreign to Danny that the words coming out of his mouth were comical.

            "I don't wear tank tops." Long before she helped Danny with his library, she had done things like wear tank tops. She was only a student then, and she worked in the university library where Danny would come in everyday rearranging all the books in an apparent one-man war against the Dewey Decimal System. His hobby was eccentric but strangely charming, and when he was banned from taking his crusade to her school by the head librarian, Mindy found herself inexplicably abandoning Dewey and following Danny. Now years later, she still was.

            "It gets pretty cold in there, too cold for skimpy clothing. Were you trying to get me to notice you?" He asked, eyebrows raised this new train of thought too fascinating to resist. 

            "Don't flatter yourself." She took another sip of her tea while Danny's remained on the table, growing cold.

             "Okay maybe I don't remember the kiss, but I definitely remember that tank top." Mindy gave an exasperated sigh and put down her tea next to his. She was nearing the end of the shelf now, and she hoisted up a copy of Moby Dick before speaking again.

             "It was good." She said, simply, flatly.

            "The kiss?"

            "No, the tank top."  Danny grinned. He did not have a talent for sarcasm himself, his gifts lay solely in pedantic literature and awkward conversations.

            "So you were wearing the tank top then?" He asked accusingly. Admittedly yes, now that she thought on it, the day she kissed Danny she had been wearing a tank top. She had never really thought about what she was wearing when she looked back on that day or that moment, it was just a single memory suspended there, her lips and his. Strange and far away.  

            "I was wearing it, but not for you." She replied, defensively.

            "Really?" It wasn't a challenge; it was another chance for reassurance, another prelude to an action. When she looked down Danny was holding the last member of the new arrangement, The Adventures of Tarzan.

            "I was a wide-eyed schoolgirl and you were a dangerous stranger, classic story."

            "I'm still pretty strange." He said, his voice lowered to a whisper.

            "I'm still very wide-eyed." She said. He was close to her; specks of dust floating in front of his face were caught in the sunlight. And he kissed her. Among the old books and the two cups of tea, he kissed her. And maybe they wouldn't remember the last book or the golden dust that floated around them, but they would have again the memory of her lips and his.