No; I didn’t run home. I shoved my nose in Walden and walked straight into the book return cart I had spent the past hour staring at. Walden flew out of my hands despite a second, desperate snapping grab for it, only serving to ram it with my knuckles and sending it flying farther. The cart whirled counter-clockwise, and I stumbled once, twice, recovered, and ducked my head and swooped for my fallen tome as a man dodging gunfire, avoiding rubbernecking library-goers scanning for the tin-boom noise of a kneecap smashing a cart, until I all but baseball-slid behind cover–a DVD rentals shelf–and snatched up my precious Walden.
There I sat, hidden between romantic comedies and children’s movies with their covers crayoned over, flipping instantly to the first dog-eared page. It was a small ear, forming a tiny little square in the corner. Not an ear for a returning point: an ear for a return-to-able sentiment. My mysterious tattooed woman–what would she save this page for? Aha:
“Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.”
Perhaps? Rather heteronormative for my first impression. Or perhaps this:
“Think, also, of the ladies of the land weaving toilet cushions against the last day, not to betray too green an interest in their fates! As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.”
Yes! This was what she was saving, no doubt. No, you can’t kill time–we have only so much, don’t we, hmm, Josephine, because that’s what I’ll call you because that’s how you look to me, like a Josephine. Josephine was a woman of action, of self-reliance. She rode to the library on her bicycle, her backpack full of books, which rested comfortably in her bike basket.
And the next page. Hmm. Let’s see. Who are you, Josephine? What about this page spoke to–here!:
“For the improvements of ages have had but little influence on the essential laws of man’s existence; as our skeletons, probably, are not to be distinguished from those of our ancestors.”
So she’s not a material girl, yet she lives in a material world. Fascinating. Not one to demand diamond rings, I suppose. And here’s another ear:
“The head monkey at Paris puts on a traveller’s cap, and all the monkeys in America do the same.”
Ha! No, you wouldn’t agree with following trends, would you? I think I’m getting a better idea of Josephine now. One more earwig, then a break:
“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”
Fierce! Similar, perhaps, to a motivational poster, but that can be forgiven.
My Josephine was a woman of strength and passion, a lover of life and living, not of cell phones and social networks. An old soul in a temple of a body. And here I’ve found myself dreaming of her, sitting on the floor of the DVD rental section of the library, my ass asleep and my banged knee awake and complaining. I decided I needed to meet Josephine. She was a woman of quality. I felt as though I had known her my whole life. And every dog-eared page led to more detail, more knowing. And if I knew her, I could find her. I would find her.
Day 199’s three random prompt categories were, “A dog-eared page,” “Gym equipment,” and, “Maybe this time.”
A continuation of the last prompt, and one I’m going to have to add a third part to. You want to know what happens with the narrator and “Josephine” don’t you? I know I do.