I break. Right here, right now in this parking lot full of rain reflecting the gunmetal sky. I break because this is the last bookstore standing at the end of an ill tended parking lot. I break because I came home, but it isn’t home anymore. One bookstore is a liquor store. My favorite grew up to become a Goodwill. 

And now this one, fighting on, but without the invitation of long, slow days spent browsing and tasting pages in armchairs. Now it is half toy store, one quarter music store, and the books are sandwiched in between. There are no tables to write at, no lingering groups. Just people moving fast, fast, fast, barely even aware of what books they do buy. 

I break for the half stocked libraries and the imaginations left untended and withering in the heartless glare of a phone screen. For the beauty of a thousand books left untested and unloved. For the people I see, gray faced, tired, unhappy, who cannot say when last they found pleasure in bending close to smell paper, ink, and binding glue.

I break because I came home. But home isn’t here.

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