There are times when one feels especially solitary and contented, and some of those times can be stumbled upon in bookstores. Emeric, a nine-year-old boy, already knew this well--he and his mother visited bookstores on special days; holidays they spent alone, dreaded visits to the dentist, and special Wednesday nights when they were both really exhausted and went to share a hot chocolate and giggle at people reading aloud.
The novelty of that solitary contentedness was mixed with the feeling that it would soon be Christmas. Christmas music could be heard over the speakers, and shiny bits of colored paper were attached to bookshelves and ceilings and computers, and even some of the hats of the employees. It was still the same bookstore, though--big and full of the smell of paper, except for the corner with the coffee shop which housed the delightful dark smell of roasted coffee beans (his favorite place, even though he didn't really like coffee very much).
Emeric and his mom been holding hands going into the store, taking turns to open doors for each other and then meeting up on the inside, stopping in front of a large display of Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading to decide whether they wanted to go to the left or the right or split up, or go get drinks and then wander around. He was standing still, just letting it all sink in.
"Hey, Em." It was his`mom, holding up a book for him to see. Somehow she'd gotten two or three tables ahead of him into the store without him noticing. He was shocked. "Have you got this one?" she asked.
He shook his head and went to join her. "Derek said it wasn't so good. There's a lot of . . . umm, kissy parts in it." He wrinkled his nose and hoped she understood; baring his soul was difficult even in the middle of a safe haven of books.
"Oh." She wrinkled her nose, too, and put the book back. "Lame." Suddenly he felt that his mom was the best, the only mom to understand the imminent danger of sappy books.
One of the employees walked past with a Santa's elf hat on, and they watched her pass. It was then that they decided they would have gingerbread with their hot chocolate, the interesting gingerbread with the raisins in it--the kind that came with a little tub of cream cheese icing.