stopped in the road

The visit had been wonderful. He had not expected her to call him. Hearing her voice had been such a shock. She had asked for his address and had said that someone would be by in the next hour or so to pick him up. It had slipped his mind that since she was blind, she did have someone to drive her around when she needed to go somewhere.

They had talked and talked, almost endlessly, forgoing snacks and water. They had promised that there would not be a repeat of the last years where he had more or less nearly fallen off of the face of the earth though he had felt a need to. The loss of Andoni had destroyed him in ways he couldn’t imagine anything else ever doing.

The trip back however turned out to be a little different and it amused him in ways he hadn’t thought it would. The driver was a kind man, one who didn’t look at him as if he belonged in a circle or out there where no one would cross his path. The trip in was quiet but the trip out had a little bit of shared chatter until the man stopped in the middle of an empty road.

For a moment, Armin’s heart stopped beating, terrified that somehow this had all just been a big setup, that this kind, white-haired man would turn and take his life from him but nothing happened. Armin leaned up slightly over the seat as the man simple stayed sitting in the driver’s seat.

“What’s the matter?” His words soft, uncertain, as if uttering the wrong words might turn this situation in to a bloody murder.

The man laughed softly and looked out from his open window, a grin to his face showing a missing teeth that Armin hadn’t noticed until now. “Turtles crossing the street.”

“What?”

“There are turtles crossing the street.”

“I didn’t see any turtle.”

“Well turtles tend to be rather small, I saw ’em from a distance, this road is pretty empty, y’can step out if you want, won’t go nowhere without you.”

Not quite certain if he was safe to step out of not, Armin chanced it nonetheless and slowly eased himself from the vehicle. He settled his arm into his crutch and carefully moved towards the front. At first all he saw was the slow motion of something moving but then he did notice that it did look like a turtle. Small as they were he really didn’t know how the old man had seen them from afar though he knew some folks just had quite good sight when it came down to that.

The car, behind him, suddenly no longer rumbled with life but he figured it was normal. Short of picking these turtles up to move them along, it would take a bit of time for them to cross, he was in no rush to go anywhere, the fields on either side of him were absolutely beautiful, it wasn’t a bad place to be stopped at.

It took fifteen minutes, a short enough time by his time and short enough time by his driver’s watch it seemed. When he had seen the last of the little turtles cross into the other side of the field though he did wonder as to why they were there at all, he went back into the car and slipped in, setting the crutch down next to him. “We’re good to go.”

The rest of the ride back to his home was peaceful, still a few words exchanged but to him most of them were meaningless, an old man merely trying to keep a ride from being too quiet as he otherwise refused to turn on the radio. None of it really mattered to Armin though.

He had had himself a wonderful visit back to an old friend. While her health was not perfectly right, she was in no way going to ‘abandon’ him the way he had her after Andoni’s death. She still had quite a few years ahead of her and it warmed him to know he had someone else on this planet he could turn to in this way.

Once he was back in his little study, he found his journal, an old book he only wrote in sporadically now, and located his fountain pen before he began to carefully write down what had happened during his day. His memory was not anywhere near ready to fail him but he knew he wanted to remember these things when it would so it was easier to simply take precautions and just write away. Anything good that happened to him was usually written down.

After several pages had been filled, he let it dry before closing the book and putting the pen away. He stretched and leaned back into his chair for the time being. He had nothing to really do though he could read his book. He was making it last, or at least trying to, only reading a certain number of pages every day. He savoured every bit as if it were the best juice he could have ever tasted. He didn’t much care for wine or cake so his savouring couldn’t really be compared to them.

When nightfall came and he was settled in his bed, now knowing better than to read this brick in his chair for fear of falling asleep with it on his lap, he pulled the large book to his legs. As he usually did, he brushed his fingers almost reverently over the cover, feeling the old, worn leather under his fingertips. He could barely make out the title of the book from the top cover but he didn’t need to.

The title was still partially visible on the side and he hardly cared. He knew this book had seen much better days but to him the important part was the inside, the pages had to be clear, intact. It wouldn’t do to have a book in hand that you couldn’t read. The thought briefly brought him back to that day the teenager had brought back the book the children she had been sitting had somehow managed to destroy to a point of no return.

He shuddered lightly at the memory and shook it off. He couldn’t understand why anyone at all would do this to books. They were meant to be cherished, they were supposed to be there when everything else failed to be. When electricity would be no more, when technology would fail them books still would be around, books would still keep them company.

Carefully, he opened the book to the bookmark he had set up and felt a sort of peace fill him, settle into his bones as he did. If others couldn’t care properly for books, then he would see about caring for those books himself to the best of his ability. That was, after all, why he worked in a library, in the long run. That way he could keep the books he adored so well as safe as he could.

Not always safe enough, a little voice in his mind told him but he ignored it and he shook his head. He could not save every single book but he could try to save as many as he could. The collection Alexis had in their little home library was proof that not everyone was out to destroy books, it helped him feel better. Maybe once he was done reading the precious one in his lap he would ask Alexis if there was any room for it in their library. He felt it would be safer there.

Pushing away all thoughts of the outside world, he turned his gaze to the words written long ago on the pages and lost himself to the stories he loved so much. It was the best of ways to end his day.

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