You Read to Know You’re Not Alone [Short Story]

Posted: December 1, 2015

A beautiful story, that makes us realize that there are times in life when we find ourselves in books.

The doorbell rang twice but Ian wouldn’t get off the couch. Kimaya felt like slapping him. The wedding dress lay in the hallway where she had tossed it. She picked it up and threw it on the entryway desk before opening the door.

“I believe this is yours,” said the building security guy, handing Kimaya a plastic flower pot. His name tag said Tony.

Shanda, the manager, stood behind him, holding a clipboard in one hand. In the other hand, she held her tote.

She announced, “I am now late for my book club meeting.”

Kimaya wondered if Shanda expected an apology.

“I didn’t mean to…” Kimaya’s voice trailed off.

Tony took a step forward to enter the house.

“If I may?”

Kimaya opened the door wider to let them in.

“Sooner you talk, sooner I write the incident report, sooner I go to my book club.”

Shanda set the bag down on the entryway desk. Her thick body looked like it was spilling at the seams of her khakis and polo-shirt. On her name tag, right below her name, it said ASK ME ABOUT: in fat, bold lettering, and Shanda had scribbled READING across it.

Shanda didn’t look like someone who cared about books or book clubs.

Kimaya checked herself. Maybe Shanda was a kindred spirit. She herself couldn’t sleep without reading a chapter or two.

Tony positioned himself between Kimaya and Ian.

“You got some ‘splaining to do.”

Neither of them spoke. Ian stared at the carpet.

Tony cleared his throat. “You look like you work in nice little deskjobs in one of ‘em downtown offices. Howdya get to tossing flower pots out the window?”

Kimaya winced. The flower pots were Ian’s gift to her. The plant, the soil, everything really. He was the Mr. Green Thumb of their combined household. No, he had been the Mr. Green Thumb till 5:47 p.m. that evening.

She’d gone shopping during her lunch hour and chanced upon this gorgeous dress. She couldn’t wait to surprise and came home earlier than usual to —

Ian in their bedroom, buck naked, except for a blindfold and socks. He was being paddled by a naked young woman.

25ish, looked like she weighed 200 pounds, much shorter than Kimaya. She vaguely remembered the woman from Ian’s office party. An intern of some sort.

Fucking midget.

She’d never considered herself a violent person, but she knew it –

Thwack! The dress was on the floor. The car keys flew out of Kimaya’s hand.

Hit the woman square on the jaw. She yowled in pain.

Kimaya assaulted them with whatever she could lay her hands on – ladles, books, saucepans.

Ian ran to the balcony. The woman scurried out, half dressed, grabbing her things.

Kimaya followed Ian. She aimed a flower pot at him. He ducked and it flew down.

Who called building security, they wouldn’t say for confidentiality reasons. But a few minutes later, Tony and Shanda materialized outside her door.

Now, Tony was staring at her.

“Miss, we need to write up a report.”

Ian intervened, “Domestic incident. Nothing more.”

“Who tossed the flower pot?”

“I did,” said Ian. “Put it down.”

“Oh no, Mother Teresa! You don’t get to behave like a goddamned martyr! Not after what you’ve done,” retorted Kimaya. She turned to Tony. “I tossed the flower pot out the window because my fiance was fucking another woman. In my bedroom, on my 450-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets.”

“They don’t need details.” Ian got up from the couch. Tony took a step towards him.

“Now, now. Do either of you feel threatened by the other?”

“No.” “No.”

“Do you want to file charges?”

“No… look…”

“Can you file charges against someone because they’re a dickwad?” Kimaya’s voice was loud.

“No.”

“Not even if they’ve been fucking someone in my apartment, which they’re on the lease of, but don’t bother to fucking pay the rent for?”

“No, miss, that’s not sufficient grounds to file.”

“Then, no. I don’t want to file.”

“Is there anything we can assist with?”

“Yes, please tell him to leave.”

“Babe, let’s not do this now, let’s talk first.” Ian reached out to touch Kimaya’s face.

“STOP. RIGHT. NOW. Touch me, and I will go to town on your face.”

Tony held up his palms. “Sir.”

“Mr. Building Security. Please escort him out.”

“Sir, let’s go for a little walk,” said Tony.

“I’m not dressed.”

“Let’s give the lady some room like she says.”

Ian got dressed and they left.

Shanda, who had been watching the whole thing from the entryway desk, offered Kimaya the form for inspection.

Shanda, who had been watching the whole thing from the entryway desk, offered Kimaya the form for inspection. She had put down ‘Domestic disturbance’ where it said Reason, and marked out a couple of boxes with giant X’s next to them.

“Your details go here. Sign at the bottom.”

Kimaya did as she was told and handed Shanda back the clipboard. Shanda was touching the lace of the dress with the tips of her fingers.

“Pretty dress.”

Kimaya stared at the dress. She hadn’t bothered to check the return policy at the bridal store.

Shanda said, “It’s not the first time, you know.”

“Her? You’ve seen her before with him?”

“Seen her a few times. Seen him with others a few times.”

Kimaya slouched against the wall.

“Sorry, not my place to…”

“Seven weeks to the wedding. Dress, venue, everything’s fixed. My parents, my friends, they love him.”

“You can do better.”

“Maybe I don’t want to do better.”  Kimaya slid to the floor. “I’m just so exhausted.”

“Wait. I might have just the pick-me-up for you.” Shanda rummaged in her bag and took out a book.

Eat, Pray, Love. Book club selection for this month. Read it?”

Kimaya shook her head. “What’s it about?”

“A woman caught up in a situation like yours. I think you’ll like it. If you’ll drop it off at the public library when you’re done, I can let you borrow it.”

“No time. Also not in a mood to read. Thanks for the offer though.”

Shanda shrugged. “I better get going. I’ll file the paperwork with the office tomorrow. It’s not personal, we have to write this kind of stuff up. It’s for your own protection.”

“I understand.”

Months after this day, after she returned the wedding dress for store credit, after she threw Ian out of her apartment lease and life, Kimaya found Shanda’s laminated bookmark fallen under the desk.

It said, “You read to know you’re not alone.” Kimaya debated whether she should return the bookmark to Shanda, but kept it anyway.

Cover image via Shutterstock

I'm a writer, wannabe-comic-strip creator, naturalized US citizen, small town desi girl

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