Free Book

Like a gift from summertime Santa Claus, I discovered a brown cardboard shipping box tucked beneath the rose bushes as I stepped outside to deliver tomatoes to a neighbor.

A package? Who would be sending me a package? And on the Fourth of July of all days?

I glanced at the shipping label: it was addressed to me. It was from Harper Collins. It was, at last, the free book I’d been waiting on to start sharing it around with friends. I’d begun to give up hope that it would ever arrive and had written it off to the same place in my mind as the Amazon gift card that I’d been promised in return for a point of my blood (I’m looking at you, Red Cross) but had never received.

When did it arrive?

I still couldn’t figure that one out: I was positive that the postal services would NOT be delivering on Independence Day. And I didn’t see it yesterday: I knew that for sure because I’d liberally hosed down the roses for almost ten minutes. That wouldn’t have been good for a cardboard box and this one felt fine. Right?

I touched the bottom edge. It was damp.


So the box had gotten wet. I hurried inside and cut the tape to open it. The book was nested in a layer of crumpled paper and did not seem worse for the wear. I’d assumed that a free copy of a book would, by definition, be the same paperback edition that I’d recently purchased, but no- this was the official edition. The version that would’ve been a hardcover if it were not trying so hard to look like a revivalist’s hymnal. The cover was white faux leather with gold letters and tooling. “THE TRUTH!!!!!!” It proclaimed with all the subtlety of an eighties era televangelist on cocaine. The pages were edged in gold. The flyleaf was marbled with black and gold. CAN I GET A HALLEILUJA?!! Amen!

I was looking forward to giving it away.

I wasn’t sure I had the gumption to read it a second time yet anyway: it had already disrupted my train of thought quite enough. The first pass cut deep existential questions into my self awareness that had only just recently begun to scab over, and had even pushed me so far as to consider looking into therapy (which I’m still not sold on).

Who was I and what did I want out of life? I still wasn’t sure- but I knew that the answers weren’t to be found in any book, no matter how gilt with gold. I still need to figure these things out.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on July 4, 2018.

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