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A fairy in a bookstore.

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I want you - Elvis Costello

Listen to the song here!

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“Oh my baby baby

I love you more than I can tell
I don’t think I can live without you
And I know that I never will”

 

But he did live without her; kind of living, that was.

He was still breathing. That was a fact - every painful day, every empty hour away from her. Oxygen kept filling his lungs, his blood steadily pumping it to the rest of his body. But what he needed was Claire; she was his real oxygen, making his life full.

 

It wasn’t that Jamie didn’t have any happy moments to speak of.

He wasn’t ungrateful. He had his sister and his best friend and brother-in-law to love and support him. His dream of having his own bookshop had come true and although the business was quite new, it was already profitable. At work or with family, he found small moments of contentment. He was satisfied when a new book arrived to his bookshop, or when he tried to guide his customers to the right choice judging from what he surmised of their character. He laughed with his heart when he was playing “the Indians” or “the cowboys” with his nephew.

These moments though, were too few to chase his emptiness away. On the whole, he felt hollow.

His life was on the right trail, leading to happiness. But he would never be happy without her coming aboard to travel this journey with him.

 


“Oh my baby baby

I want you so it scares me to death
I can’t say any more than “I love you”
Everything else is a waste of breath”

 

Jamie met Claire on a cold and rainy Friday afternoon at his bookstore. She came in like the sun in a winter’s day, brightening his life and casting away the darkness. The little bell above the door was still chiming when she smiled at him and said the sweetest “Hello” he had ever heard in a posh English accent. Sitting behind his counter to fill the list of the new arrivals, he felt unable to move and his eyes followed her while she peered around her to find the bookshelf of her interest. He was so hypnotized by her graceful movement that he didn’t even ask her if she needed any help. When she spotted the shelves with the classic literature her furrowed brow relaxed, and she smiled again.

At that point Jamie had already shaken his head three times in an attempt to break the spell the she had cast on him. Nothing. The fairy was still in his bookshop, reading summaries and trailing her ethereal fingers across spines that whispered their mysteries to her.

At last, he moved behind her and asking “Could I be of any assistance, lass?” He wished with all his heart that she would say yes.

He forgot time and place around her. She was holding an old leather-bound edition of “Wuthering Heights” when he’d first reached her. She caressed the cover with a reverence that made his heart melt. A bookworm she was- just like him.

They talked about the Brontë sisters and then moved to Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Robert Stevenson and Jonathan Swift - neither of them realizing that it was already ten o’clock and the bookshop should be closed for a while now.

“Will ye join me for a beer, Claire? To… to continue our conversation.”

“Sure, I reckon it’s going to be a long one if we enlarge the topic on non-British or Irish writers as well!” Claire winked at him.

That night, their first night together, was one of the best in his life. They talked about literature and then about themselves and their lives. She was a doctor, doing her residency in Edinburgh and she loved whisky and art.

“Art is universal, illimitable and free. I have to be so organized and precise when at work that I enjoy roaming unconstrained in fantasy at leisure. How is it that Fitzgerald wrote it? ‘Art isn’t meaningless… It is in itself. It isn’t in that it tries to make life less so.’ Well, I believe literature does that to my life.”

“The Beautiful and Damned” Jamie whispered. Well, if he didn’t fell hard for her already. He would be damned if she wouldn’t be the beautiful art in his life. She made everything meaningful.  

They left the pub at two o’clock in the morning. Jamie was tipsy with drink and happiness. For the first time since he was a little boy, he felt that the world might be like a fairy-tale.

 

Since then, every Friday night Claire came by the bookshop. The saying “thank god it’s Friday” took a new meaning for him. He was living for these days, finishing all his work by noon just to talk to her when she would finally arrive.

She always waited for him to close the shop and then went for drinks together.

“It’s like I knew you all my life, Jamie!” Claire said laughing at their second “date”.

“Aye, this between us – it’s different,” he replied trying to contain all his feelings in his heart and away from his lips. It was too soon yet.

 


“I want you
You’ve had your fun you don’t get well no more
I want you
Your fingernails go dragging down the wall
Be careful darling you might fall”

 

The forth Friday in a row, while they were in their second dram, Jamie leaned in and kissed her. He wanted both to be still sober, the weight of their kiss to be based on their feelings and not in alcohol. It was slow and tender at the beginning, but Claire deepened it the moment his tongue touched her lips. Their long-restrained desire took over, erupting into the most passionate kiss he’d ever experienced.

When they broke from the kiss they were both breathing heavily. Claire’s eyes were burning with lust, her rosy cheeks almost the same color with her lips. The sensation was euphoric.

Jamie had everything he wished for, and even more. This absolute bliss, her whisky eyes shining with happiness, was engraved in his heart and on his mind forever.

All it took was a heartbeat and everything turned into a catastrophe. Her soft mouth became a tight line and her face contorted as if in pain.

Claire gasped, the sparkle in her eyes fading away as she whispered “I’m sorry Jamie. I’m so sorry.” Shaking her head, her hands moved from his nape towards her coat and bag.

“Claire, what… Why?” he asked, flabbergasted. His voice was still husky from their kiss and he felt so ecstatic after finally tasting her lips that he couldn’t comprehend her reaction.

She just lowered her head and left him alone, to watch her swaying body as she left the pub. The door closed behind her and Jamie felt his heart shattering in a million tiny fragments, impossible to be found and pieced together again. At least not without her.

 

“I want you
I woke up and one of us was crying
I want you
You said “Young man I do believe you’re dying”
I want you
If you need a second opinion as you seem to do these days
I want you
You can look in my eyes and you can count the ways”

 

He dreamed of her every night during the following week. Every morning he woke up sure that her legs were entwined with his and her curls were spread on his chest.

But his bed was as empty as his heart. Tears found their way to his pillow and all he wanted was to fall asleep again, to find his peaceful oblivion. When awake, the same questions dominated every other thought his mind would form.

Why did she leave? How could her feelings change so much in mere moments?

He was sure of what he saw in her eyes immediately after their kiss. He could even feel her heart beating as he pulled her body flush on his.

She knew that he wanted her more than anything, didn’t she? Why was she gone?

 


“I want you
Did you mean to tell me but seem to forget
I want you
Since when were you so generous and inarticulate
I want you”

 

She hadn’t flinched when he kissed her, but she’d moved to find him and be closer to him. He was still sitting on the stand and she was standing between his legs when they moved away from each other.

Jamie knew she felt it as well. There was this connection, this inexplicable link between them. She never said so, but there are times –as rare as they might be – that words were meaningless. The eyes could convey more messages to a person in love than a whole page filled with words.

 

“I want you
It’s the stupid details that my heart is breaking for
It’s the way your shoulders shake and what they’re shaking for
it’s knowing that he knows you now after only guessing
I want you
It’s the thought of him undressing you or you undressing
I want you
He tossed some tattered compliment your way
I want you
And you were fool enough to love it when he said
‘I want you’”

 

She never came to see him again.

 

The first Friday night found him in pure despair. Without her playful “Hello” and her beautiful face entering the bookshop, he felt helpless and forlorn.

Jamie decided to take the matters in hand. Claire had mentioned the hospital she was working at and he had resolved to go and stand by the doors until he could talk to her. He had to try, because he couldn’t go on. Her absence was not only painful, it was unbearable.

Every day, when bookshop was closed, he occupied the same spot outside the hospital, as stubborn as he was hopeless.

 

On Wednesday he finally saw her. She was in her green scrubs with her hair up in a bun and her ivory skin glowing. He could see though that her eyes were sad and she looked detached, a thick wall separating her from the world around her. He started towards her but stopped shortly when another man reached her, putting his hand on her waist.

 

On Claire’s waist. Moving her to him. He had to be a friend or a relative. He had to be.

 

Jamie listened to him calling her “darling” and he kissed her on the lips, the very lips Jamie still felt burning on his own. This kiss destroyed every alternative scenario formed in Jamie’s mind. They were a couple.

She smiled at the man, a smile that never reached her beautiful amber eyes. This was totally different from the smiles Jamie knew. He noticed that she was holding her satchel with both hands, not reaching to hug the much older and cold sober man.

They walked towards the parking lot and the man never took his hand from Claire’s waist. This intimacy between them was driving Jamie crazy. His mind was racing, trying to comprehend how this could be real and how his dreams came to be ashes, burned by the image of her with him.  

 

It was his hand that should be in her waist. 

His lips on her mouth, on her body.

His heart beating against hers. 

His life shared with her.

 

Jamie wanted to go there and punch the man in the face. To shout at him that Claire wasn’t – obviously – happy with him. To declare that he knew how the happy Claire looked.

How happy she was when she was with him- every single time she was with him, because she was meant to be with him.

 

How difficult was that to comprehend?

 

He wanted to grab her away from the man’s grip and shake some sense back to her; to make her open her eyes and see the mistake.

She was in love with him and Jamie knew it as well as he knew his own heart.

His own, smashed, destroyed heart.

Claire couldn’t be in love with this man.

 


“I want you
The truth can’t hurt you it’s just like the dark
It scares you witless
But in time you see things clear and stark
I want you
Go on and hurt me then we’ll let it drop
I want you
I’m afraid I won’t know where to stop
I want you
I’m not ashamed to say I cried for you
I want you
I want to know the things you did that we do too
I want you
I want to hear he pleases you more than I do
I want you
I might as well be useless for all it means to you
I want you
Did you call his name out as he held you down
I want you
Oh no my darling not with that clown
I want you
You’ve had your fun you don’t get well no more
I want you
No-one who wants you could want you more
I want you
Every night when I go off to bed and when I wake up
I want you
I want you”

 

Jamie needed to hold her in his arms and make her see- not just look at him but really see. To make her listen to him and to hear his truth in her heart.

His statement would be plain enough.

“I want you. More than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life.”

His lungs were burning, his heart banging in his chest, desperately trying to be heard by her.

 

I’m here. I came for you.

 

She didn’t listen to his heart’s frantic beating.

He couldn’t see anymore, the tears fogging his eyes and making everything around blurry. Everything, apart from her figure getting in the man’s car.

She was leaving.

The world became a black shadow covering him in his despair. No stars, no moon around to show him the way.

Drying the tears from his eyes, Jamie looked at her one last time before the car’s engine ignited.

With his heart clenched, beating painfully in his chest, Jamie saw her eyes lost, in a far away land. It was then that he decided there was only one thing he could do. He had to save them both.

He was hers and she had to know.

If she wanted him to stop feeling this way for her, she couldn’t just run away. She had to kill it herself.

Or kill him – at this point there was no real difference.

 

“I’m going to say it again ‘til I instill it
I know I’m going to feel this way until you kill it
I want you
I want you”