Why I Did Not Go To The Book Festival

Sheila Lamb

Sherman Alexie lay at our feet.
 
We were supposed to be at a fair, a festival, scheduled to stand in line with a thousand others, to wait for his autograph. The line would stretch through the green patchwork rectangles of the mall, filled with MFA students and librarians, eager to champion the celebration of books.
 
Mr. Alexie would scrawl his name inside my worn, used-bookstore copy of War Dances.
 
“I am an MFA student,” I’d say. “And a librarian.”
 
I’d make a joke about drafts or revisions or readings and he’d smile. He’d understand. Our eyes would meet in a flash of writerly camaraderie.
 
Instead, you and I were in bed. Baring our souls. No. Baring our bodies. We met again and again, under a canopy of blankets, fortified by bottles of red wine. It had been that way with us since we met. Three weeks ago? Four?
 
War Dances, which I had been reading in anticipation of the day, fell from my grasp when you reached where you always reached.  The pages were pushed down, farther down, pushed aside by our hands, pushed away by our knees. Down, farther, to be tangled with quilt and sheet.
 
Portent clouds promised rain, heavy, possibilities of thunder. Excuses. Every gray shadow, every slight dimming of the sun meant rain and so then – we would not go. How could we in weather such as this? The drive into the city, the crowds on the mall… how badly do you want his autograph… how badly do you want … how badly…do you want…
 
The clouds, similar to those in Seattle, the ones that Sherman knew, grew. They loomed, swollen with liquid, waiting to burst. Now was not the time to get out of bed.
 
Trapped between our feet and wooden edge of the frame, each page turned, a lonely dry leaf rustle. Stories forgotten, for now. Poems neglected. The luscious red shoes, the song-blessed blanket, the windshield owl would have to wait. We had our own things red. Our own blanket. Our own owl.

 
 
 


Sheila Lamb is an MFA candidate (fiction) at Queens University of Charlotte. Her short stories and flash fiction have appeared in Steel Toe Review, Referential Magazine, Soundzine, Santa Fe Writers Project and elsewhere.