The old bookstore (Agnes’s travel in time – concluding part)
I reached the bookstore again and saw that the old lady was still there but obviously younger. She was sitting in a chair with her head buried in her hands. When I touched her gently, she got up trying to cover her tears.
“What do you want? Just browse through yourself, I’m busy”. She said.
“Why are you crying? What happened?” I asked her.
“Nothing happened. Keep your nose out of other people’s business.” she said angrily.
I wanted o know what happened, but she was in no mood to talk. And I didn’t think she ever would. I would have to find out from somewhere else. But from where; that’s the question. I thought.
Right about then a couple with their son walked into the store. They wanted some history book. They seemed to know the old lady pretty well. But how do I talk to them. I didn’t even know them. And they wouldn’t talk to a stranger. I approached the son. He seemed to be my age.
“Hello, my name is Agnes. I’m new around here. Would you help me with something?” I asked the young boy.
“Hi, I’m Roger. How can I help you.” He said sweetly.
“Could you please tell me why the owner is so upset? What is bothering her?” I asked him.
“Yes, her parents just passed away and the money lenders are pressuring her to pay up; otherwise they can seize this bookstore and her house.” He said.
“Can’t she ask for some more time? I mean, they know that her parents just passed away. The least they could do is give her some time.” I asked.
“They did agree to give her more time but the rumor is someone from her family is trying to get her on the streets so that they could get hold of the properties.” He said.
“Oh, my God, that’s atrocious, how can someone do that to a lonely girl. People are just nasty.” I said disgustingly.
After that, I went home and thought about the girl. I felt terrible for her but couldn’t do anything. I slept thinking that I would go there again tomorrow morning and try and help the poor girl.
In the morning, I went back to the store and pretended to look for a book, but in my mind I was thinking what to do, how to help her out?
There were a few people there besides me. One of them was talking to a man. She was saying “if only there was some way to save this bookstore. It’s so sad to see all of this happening to a young girl like Marsha”.
I didn’t say anything and kept looking at the books. There was one particular book that I wanted, which was on the top shelf and I couldn’t reach it. I asked Marsha (the store owner) if she could help me take out the book.
“Here, take this ladder. Now you will be able to reach it”. Said Marsha
I took the ladder and as soon as I pulled the book, a door cracked open and a gust of wind started blowing in my face. I looked around and saw that one shelf of the bookshelf had been pushed back and a corridor was revealed. I looked at Marsha and she and I were taken aback.
“Will you come with me?” She asked me.
“Yes, definitely; I will come with you”. I said.
Marsha lit a torch with a candle. She took my hand and we both went inside. We walked through a long corridor and came across a room. It had a bed with a table and a chair. Big enough for one person to work and stay comfortably.
There were some papers strewn about on the table. I looked at them but couldn’t understand anything. I opened the drawer and found a big fat sealed letter with Marsha’s name on it.
I gave it to her. She recognized her father’s handwriting. She started to tear up but I told her – “You have to be strong. Don’t give up now. Open the letter”.
“I am strong. That’s what my parents wanted”. She said.
She opened the letter and it said –
To our darling daughter Marsha,
If you are reading this letter, we are long gone by now. But do not worry. We know you will be fine. There are some people who would do anything for money. They are the ones who are responsible for all of this. We had to save you somehow.
We have taken care of everything. You don’t have to worry about anything. We have taken care of everything. The creditors have been paid in full. Nothing has to be paid to them now. The enclosed deed has all the details. No one can take the house and the bookstore from you now. You are safe.
Remember that we love you very much.
You loving parents,
Tom & Agatha
She started crying out loudly.
“Hey, now you know what the reality is. You know who your friends are and who your enemies are. Your parents loved you so much that they sacrificed their lives to save you. So that you could have a better life; a life they could only dream of. They gave that life to you. Be happy. Everything is fine now.” I said consoling her.
When she calmed down we both came out of the secret room and as soon as I stepped out of the corridor, I was back in my old clothes, the ones from the present era.
I said my goodbyes to her and went outside. I was back for sure, because I could see the times had changed. I went back in to the store and saw that Marsha had aged again but this time she was not the grumpy old lady but a laughing cheerful old lady loved by all. Children loved her and came to her to listen to stories and her bookstore had also changed to a fresh and enhanced looking one.
I was happy that everything was fine now and it was time for me to go home. She gave me a wink and I left smiling.