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In the bookstore, the fusty scent of ink and pulp. I want to lie down on the floor and breathe in the smell of words. I want to hold the words, to wrap my arms around them. A giddy, greedy swell churns in my belly, a hope, a prayer: one day, I will read all these books. I know I will. And when I do, I will be a better person.

But as I wander the aisles of the shop, a panic begins to wend through me like roots of a tree: it is the deep, troubling knowledge that I will never read all the books I mean to read. I leave the store empty-handed.

Outside, a guy on a bench looks down at his phone. It is in his hands. He holds it affectionately, the way you used to hold a book, palm on spine, fingers curled around pages.


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