After that conversation, I think we both needed a break from each other. I spent a whole day reading a book in my kitchen. I knew I would never be able to talk to anyone about it. I washed the dishes. While I was doing that, I finished the conversation in my mind that I had had with Clarice.
“What were you doing on the farm?”
“I had gone there because of the ocean. Also, I am an only child.”
“What does being an only child have to do with it?”
“You find you must do what you want.”
“Do you? I don’t know very much about only children.”
“We’re very aware of everything, and also sometimes afraid.”
I made myself stop the conversation. I sat down at the table and started reading again so that the words I read would fill my mind.
The next morning I went to work and it didn’t stop raining. In between shelving books I would stand in front of the large windows and stare out at the parking lot. People came and went, running from their cars to our store, or sometimes to another store across the street.
“Don’t forget where you are,” the assistant manager said to me.
The hours crept slowly by. When a customer asked me a question I answered it quickly so I could be alone again.
One customer got angry with me because I was reading when she walked up to the cash register, and I didn’t notice her. She said to one of the other employees that it didn’t even seem as if I cared about books. I thought this was strange because I had been holding a book and looking down at it when she saw me. But in a way she was right—I didn’t care.