The two people who passed each other in front of the counter in my bookshop

They didn’t know each other. They were attached to two different parties. One party, a family, efficient, searching purposely through the shelves. The other party, a couple, browsing randomly and quietly.

Then, readers from each party met accidently right in front of the counter and had to weave around each other. That’s when I looked up. They avoided each other with expertise: each man gliding efficiently around the other. I caught their expressions. They were both carrying a small pile of books, and they both nodded to each other as they swerved.

They glanced at each other’s books as they passed. I saw that. Readers do that. I do it: someone may have something I need. Obviously, they must hand it over.

One man, as he veered, was grinning, triumphant. This made me look sharply at his books in case he had something I wanted. But it was fine. He could have those. The other man was holding a book up to another person in the distance, who called out:

‘You got one?’


Everyone dispersed back to their proper groups. It was a readerly and complex exchange and worth noting.

Then, the family group finished up, brought their choices to me and paid for them and clustered through the door, the child asking on the way:

‘Hey dad, how come you choosed a army book?’


But then they were gone, and I heard no more.

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