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  • The book that I'm reading has sand in the front of the plastic sheath covering the book jacket. It's from the library, and I'd heard about on public radio, went to the library website and put in a request and several weeks later, after I'd all but forgotten about it, I got a notification that the book was ready. The book is now overdue, and I'm frantically reading to get to the end, both so I can find out what happens to the story, and so I can dutifully pay my (hopefully no more than) dollar in fines.

    This book went on vacation with somebody. There is sand trapped between the plastic covering that the library puts on the books to keep them tidy and the jacket itself. I can imagine the person before me, sitting on the beach, somewhere warm, maybe there's a cocktail sitting on the table next to them, and they're listening to the waves rolling in and out.

    There are no waves here today. It's raining, and the sound of the water outside is less rolling as it comes in and out off of the shore, and more a not-too-gentle, steady pitter patter of drops falling from the sky. The rain is coming in sideways, knocking against my window, wanting to come in.

    Do you remember when library books had the names of all of the people who borrowed the book before you, stamped into the back cover? A violation of privacy, to be sure, and where, other than libraries, can you get that sort of privacy these days, but still, I miss seeing those names, feeling like I was part of a club. A club of people who touched this very book, who went on vacation, who left sand and rain drops on its cover.

    The book was due back to the library yesterday, and I would really like to finish it now.

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