I took a train this holiday season.
I know nobody really takes the train anymore unless you live in a major city East of the Mississippi (in America at least). I quite like trains though, and so when the option came up as an alternative to driving to my destination over New Years Eve, I thought “Why not?”
I was waiting for this train, sitting on the benches in the station, enjoying the brief respite from the -5°F weather outside (not counting the wind chill), when I saw one of those rotating racks for pamphlets, maps, and brochures. It was mostly empty. Comically so. Either literally everyone who walked through this station had taken a pamphlet, or the rack had been basically abandoned by whoever was supposed to be stocking it.
The only thing left, wasn’t a pamphlet, map, or brochure, but a book. A slightly worn copy of Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn.
I had my cheap laugh right away. Seeing a book nigh universally acknowledged as terrible to be the last thing on this forlorn rack was more than a little bit funny.
But I couldn’t help but wonder why it was there. It didn’t look like the station had any stores or sold anything aside from the row of vending machines.
It must have been left behind by someone.
Deliberately; either out of some visceral hatred of the book which left them completely unwilling to bring this thing with them on the train, or because they wanted someone else to come across it and experience the joys they had while reading it.
That second one seemed unlikely.
It could have been an accident, left behind by mistake and put up on the rack by someone who had no idea what to do with this thing.
Or it could have been none of those things.
There are probably many many other reasons the book could have been left behind, but these are the ones that ran through my head, sitting on the bench in the train station.
Looking over at it, I felt a sudden wave of sadness wash over me. It really did look pretty pathetic over they, scuffed up at the edges, all alone in a place it didn’t belong.
It occurs to me now that somebody must have loved the book at some point, right?
Either someone bought it for themselves, or for somebody else as a gift. It had been purchased with every intention that it would be read by somebody presumably.
And here it was, abandoned in a train station.
I have never actually read the Twilight Saga. I know it by reputation, and I forced myself to watch two of the movies out of a sense of obligation to give something a chance, but I’ve never actually read it.
I almost picked that book up.
I almost regret not doing it still.
I used to work at a used book store, filled with row upon row of books that had been loved, and would be loved again if I had any say in it. To me, in that moment, an abandoned book just seemed like the saddest thing I could imagine, and I wanted to pick it up and say “It’s ok. I’ll read you once, then see if I can’t find some place to donate you.”
But I didn’t pick it up.
I had things to do that day and couldn’t be asked to haul the extra weight of a book around.
More’s the pity.