By: lisa evola
The boy picked up a blue tattered book and smoothed the pages that blew with the rising wind. His palms rested on the cover as he approached me on the walkway where I stood. “Here Mrs.”, he stated matter-of-factly. “Here is the book for you.”
I was astonished as he pushed its soft worn fabric into my uncertain hands. “Oh,” I said hesitantly, “I’m not looking for a book today.” I had paused on the street to check my phone. A short chirping sound had alerted me to a message begging for my attention, and I had stopped to sate its cry.
“I saw you looking Mrs.” He insisted. “This is what you are looking for.”
I had looked. As I paused from my task, the array of colors had caught my eye, and I had thought how beautiful its kaleidoscope had appeared. The sun shone brightly upon the assorted covers, blue, greens and oranges popping forth in a fury of brilliant hue. “I was just admiring the brilliant colors of your books, but I am not shopping today.” My schedule was tight, and I simply did not have time to linger among the frivolous. Time had, as of late, become a premium. And a premium that I could not afford.
As I looked into his crestfallen eyes, my heart tightened, and I realized just how young he was. He appeared no older than my youngest son, only sixteen; not yet a man. His clothing showed extreme signs of wear and bleaching from the intense sun in this desert region. And it occurred to me then that he was on his own, making his way through life in the only way he knew.
“Come Mrs.,” he said. “I have what you need here. My books, they are all very beautiful.” His pleading eyes convinced me of their desperate sincerity, and I allowed him to take my hand, then guide me to the steps where he displayed his treasures. I discovered that his name was Gabriel. “Like the messenger angel,” he told me.
“And what is your message?” I teased.
“This Mrs. This is your message.” He pushed the blue tattered book back into my hands, and I looked for the first time at its title on the narrow binding.
The lettering was carved deep into the unusual fabric that clothed its casing. The blue cloth of the book was of a shade I had not seen before, brilliant, with an almost transparent appearance. The fibers from below the surface hue showed thick with texture, and the frayed corners simply added to its uniqueness. The lettering itself looked as though it had been hammered in gold, and it glimmered in the sun, even though its age should have prevented its luminosity. Grandiose flourishes poured from the characters, embellishing the words further, drawing the eye to its obvious importance.
My breath caught as I read the letters strung across the binding: A Matter of Time.
I looked back at Gabriel and enquired of its cost. “Whatever it is worth to you Mrs.”
I opened my wallet, taking from it a large stack of bills; everything that I had. And placed it into the waiting hands of the messenger.