The Library Card Philanderer

Together forever, girl. Probably.

Together forever, girl. Probably.

My backpack was growing absurdly heavy. I had been cavalier and ruthless about clothing, toiletries, first aid–it was only four months in Asia! Bandages were for the weak. I didn’t need more than one pair of pants, or three shirts. Razors were for job interviews. Dental floss was for date night. If it meant I was going to have to carry it through Thailand and India, I probably didn’t want it.

The only item that went uncompromised, the only objects so necessary to my continued biological functioning other than the goopy organs already locked in my husk: my books. I wasn’t going anywhere without my books.

It started simply enough. I made dire, brutal calculations of space and weight and airline bag regulations. I considered pace of reading, total page counts and the relative difficulties of style, likely downtime, made equations to include the variable of a rainy day. My travel compatriots were also packing books, and I took theirs into account, too. I slid 5 books into my backpack, cradled them in the precious central core where they could be buffeted by soft underpants, where they could be shrouded in t-shirts to keep them from the dangers of the outside world.

These were my paperbacks. Nothing would befall them. And I had all I needed.

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The Lonely Tale of Fleabag, The Island Stray

Private Beach

The water is calm and dark, but the sands show the remains of the rainy season. Deep wells form and drift, brine collecting in sudden pools, and rocks and shells litter all the way back to the sturdy palm trees. There are mountains out in the water, on distant islands, ones just as quiet as this one. The wind carries black, heavy clouds, and it feels like a monsoon could open up upon us at any time. It is bright here, but it’s fragile–a storm just biding its time.

There is salt in the air from the sea, and we walk the enormous distance of the low tide to get to the water. Koh Mook is usually a busy island, but the monsoons leave it quiet, desolate. Emptied out. No one stops us from entering this private beach, which becomes our private beach simply by default. The sands and surf before us are endless, and it feels a little bit like we are alone in the universe, or at least in this small part of it. It’s the end of the world, or just after it.

There is little noise but for the slow, easy swell of the tide, and the skittering of paws from behind us. We are not so alone: a scrappy stray approaches us cautiously. He has a mutt’s colouring, the enormous paws of impending maturity, but the wary eyes of youth. This is his turf, maybe, this great, untouched swath of dark-brown earth and deep, black water. He knows every rock and cave, he knows the nearby forest. He trots towards us, this little local lord, and not long after his brother, or his loyal viceroy, sidles up, too.

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