The Book Sale

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She remembered his fierce flashing eyes, his gentle voice, strong hands and thinning hair. Those had been the happiest of days, when he’d say their love was unbounded, unstoppable, eternal. But one day he left forever, drifted across the endless sea, and even now she would sit by the shore and look for returning ships.

Then, after enough time had passed, the goddess Calypso decided she wanted to read the book about her lost beloved. She found an old copy at a library book sale, lying among the yellowed Agatha Christies and Sidney Sheldons. The cover was torn, but she liked the firm gold letters that spelled a derivative of his name, and the name of the poet who made the song a long time ago. On the first page was the handwritten dedication “July 12 1954. For Charles, So you may return to Ithaca and I one day, with love from your darling Cynthia.” She felt a warmth and lightness for Cynthia and Charles, although they were people she’d never meet.

She took the book back to her island, where she lived alone. The sea and sky were bold and bright, the air alive with lapping waves and seabirds’ lonely cries. In her tidy cottage she sat and read the tale of her beloved. When she finished, she read it again in disbelief. She threw the book to the floor, enraged. It said she’d held him there against his will; it said he’d tried desperately to leave, to return to another shore, another woman’s arms. It was full of distortions and lies, and its tangled narrative left her stranded after mere pages, as if she were just another strange adventure on the hero’s journey home.

Outside she slew a goat and cursed Odysseus, Charles and Cynthia, the Greek poet and all writers, those prevaricating seers who twisted facts and crumpled lives like pages for their own petty visions and schemes.

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