Unedited and will probably remain that way until I have the time to check.
It's the full circle, the completion, the coming together of things after years of watching them fall apart and I am happy for her, because she has had to go through a lot, she has had to shoulder the weight of one of the worst curses ever to be bestowed upon a human being, and to see it now, to see the finish line, it's amazing.
The reason I say that it's a full circle kind of thing is because the story started with a storybook and ended with a storybook. And where does one find storybooks? Why, at bookshops, of course. There's tons around here, tons around the time when the story began and over time, things have changed, closed and opened and gone out business, but some things will never change. For instance, she will always remember, when she steps foot inside a bookshop, the sounds of the bell ringing overhead, a tinkling sound of massively annoying proportions.
For it was a small bookshop that started off her story. Just a teeny tiny one tucked in the corner of an unremarkable building. It's closed since. Bankrupt? Changed locations? Who knows and who cares to find out? Nevertheless, she could still remember everything as if it were yesterday. Which is not true. Because this story took place years and years ago. She might even be nostalgic enough as to say a lifetime ago. A life time ago, the bookshop existed with barely enough customers walking in to sustain its life. The shelves were not stocked properly and the gray walls were not appealing to look at in contrast to the bright sunlight filtering in through the floor to ceiling windows.
There was a large display of books smacked right in the middle of the shop, though, and the books were piled harhazardly, covers facing any which way and the books were not arranged according to the sequence in which they were to be read in the series. And it was around just before eleven, maybe ten, maybe nine, or maybe an hour of two after that, she can't really remember - it was around that time when she stood at the staircase leading to the outdoor parking area and mumbled something dismissively to a stranger before seeking the comforts of the little bookshop tucked into the little corner.
Her mother put her phone away. She approached the stack of books on display in the middle and glanced around before making her decision. Other people barely gave the little bookshop a second glance, fewer still walked in. But the sounds of the bell, the bell hanging above the door, a rather terrible way of greeting a customer as they walk in the store, the sounds still follow her around till this very day. For she could have been late, a month late, or, God forbid, a year late. For the stars had aligned, the pieces fell into place, and that was was so utterly perfect in its imperfections, so beautiful in the way that it was all entirely coincidental and unplanned, that it's impossible to relive...
For she could have been fat. She could have been one of those people who really, really liked food. Instead of a thin and bony body with knobbly knees and long toes, she could have been plump, with chubby cheeks and a tummy always waiting to be filled. Her hair remained the same, though, never let it be changed.
Let's not go through breakfast because while that was bad enough by itself, it was harder to get her out of the house for a haircut than it was the get her to go to school. She whined and screamed and kicked, and in the end her mother made empty promises of food from the outside. Fast food. That was a rare occasion, indeed, and a chance she immediately grabbed at with fat fingers.
When they passed a KFC on the way to the salon, she screamed. Her mother was forced to screech the car to a stop and together they made their way to the restaurant, hand in hand. The part where they ordered food was uninteresting and mostly passed by in a blur, because when it came to food, she knew exactly what she wanted, and we might as well skip the part where they ate as well. By the time they finished it was noon and her mother fished her phone out of the pocket of her bag and dialed the number for the salon.
The place was vacant. They rushed to the car, rushed up the stairs, got her the haircut she desperately needed and went home, and like the other hundred or so people who passed by that corner that day, they barely even looked at that tiny little bookshop.
For she could have been responsible. Or at the very least, she could have been a person who liked school. I can't imagine what joy a normal scrawny (for she has been downsized to her regular size now that we've switched the situation) eight year old would find joyful in school. Maybe it was her horrible friends. Maybe she actually liked them. Maybe her Dad finally rubbed off on her and she decided that the best course of action, for that particular day, would be to not skip school.
Because it was already late by the time they decided to go to the salon, and with her mother at the reigns, there was no way they were going to be able to get her a haircut and reach home in time for her to go to school and have a joyful day. So they decided to go some other time, and some other time turned out to be a month from then. She never even knew there was a bookshop on the ground floor of that building, of course, because when she went there a month from then, it was closed. Not out of business, it just wasn't opened. And she'd never find out what that shop sold, and she'll soon forget about it all anyways, because a few years later, the hairdresser changed locations to another part of town.
For she could have tolerated being late. She could have not gone down to remind her mother to get ready every ten seconds because while, in this reality, she still does it today, it's a habit that has been running for a long time. Her mother was always late and she has never tolerated it. But what if she did?
So she never told her mother to get ready and they left after noon. So she didn't give a rat's ass about school and just called her Dad, as if skipping school was an everyday occurrence, which, who knew, it might be in this reality, and she didn't go to school for the day. It was decided before they even stepped out of the house because that only happened at 1 o'clock. So the reached the salon and she got her haircut and then they exited the building, with their gaze focused entirely towards the ground in front of them, and had KFC for lunch.
For she could have gone to a different place. The hairdresser, fickle as she was, could have switched locations just before that very day and when her mother gave a call, it was found that the salon had moved to another part of town. So they went at 10 in the morning and the hairdresser, late as she always was, had not opened shop yet. They hung around, nobody approached her and she in turn just kept to her mother's side.
There were no bookshops around and a few miles away was that little bookshop tucked in the corner. Maybe another girl walked in that day, or a boy, and the books on display were really hard to ignore. They were just a big pile of books, arranged crookedly. If you entered, that was surely where you would have headed to first. But she did not enter, because she was far, far away, waiting for her hairdresser to arrive so she could get a haircut.
For they could have been early. Who knows, really, why the hairdresser was late that day. It could have been because her car broke down or it could have been because her daughter was keeping her on the phone for a long time. The hairdresser's daughter was busy that day, so no call came that morning. The car ran smoothly enough so the hairdresser reached there right at 11 o'clock on the dot.
She was there, that girl with the curly and unruly hair. She was just about to go inside that little bookshop tucked into the corner but when the hairdresser came, both she and her mother went to the salon instead. She got her haircut and went home afterwards. The day in itself was mostly disappointing for everyone involved. Maybe the hairdresser really missed her daughter and the call in the morning was something they had scheduled and her daughter's cancellation broke her heart.
Whatever it is, when she got home, she still didn't go to school anyways. There wasn't really a point, was there? It was late enough as it was.
For it could have been a different set of books on display. Instead of colorful books that drew attention, they could have been books that were... beige in color and while she still flipped through the pages and read the summary at the back, at the end of it, nothing interested her. But then again she was desperately bored. It was 11 and they had been there for an hour. The hairdresser was supposed to open her shop at 11 sharp and yet she had told her mother she was going to be late for that day in particular.
Unknown to her, but maybe she had suspected it at the time, another hour was going to stretch in front of her and a few more occurrences have yet to have occurred. The stars weren't aligned, not on that day, for the books on display were boring and dull and beige, and she put them on the counter to pay because she had the time and her mother's money.
At 11.30, they didn't give up, not exactly, but both mother and daughter were already so bored out of their minds that they decided to go and have KFC to fill in the time. When they got back, the salon was opened.
For a myriad of situations could have occurred, each depressing in its very essence, at the very thought. For she arrived at 10 with her mother, expecting the salon to be opened, but no, it wasn't. It opened at 11. So they went downstairs and entered the small little bookshop tucked into a nondescript corner. She browsed through the books but there was no doubt in her mind when she approached the stack in the middle of the room which books she was going to purchase that day.
With plastic bag of books in her hand, she waited with her mother outside the bookshop. An old man passed by and asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, whether she would study at UM or go overseas. It was years ago, so she couldn't remember exactly what she said. Maybe she impressed the man, most probably she didn't, but a phone call to her Dad and the hairdresser each and about an hour later, she got her haircut and then she went home.
She also couldn't quite remember if the KFC restaurant four or five blocks off was actually involved in the story or not. Regardless, they had KFC that year. And what a year it was, too.
So she thanks her parents, in present tense now, for being the vehicles that brought her to that place, where the stars aligned and the everything that previously was not in order, came together. She thanks her mother, for everything that happened that day. She thanks her father, for always driving her around town looking for things and for allowing her to buy things off the Internet. She thanks her second brother, for replacing the third book that her cat scratched when she was nine. She thanks everyone involved. She thanks God.
Because she looks around her now and everything, inside, out, just simply everything, she owes it all to this. This one thing. This one teeny tiny thing. That one teeny tiny bookshop tucked into that little corner on the ground floor of an unremarkable building. Everything from the way she acts and thinks now to the things she has experienced, the hobbies she has developed, the skills she has learned and the talents she has discovered. The people she has met and the friends she has made.
She thanks J.K. Rowling.