The manga section of Barnes and Noble is particularly busy today. The smell? Pungent and sour, with the slightest hint of salty. A pair of socks dragged themselves through the carpet after a ten mile run through the sewers and fell asleep in the corner, where a permanent stain now resides. There are four characters that have wandered over in the past four hours. Differentiation between smell is tough, but luckily my eyes have adjusted to the hazy fog that fell over me when I sat down. At 2:08pm, a man with a blue pullover stopped short when he saw me shoved into a corner, hunched over my laptop with a look of contempt, and immediately took off his shoes. He picked them up carefully and placed them in between two bookcases only to skirt off down the comic book section. Now that his shoes are off, he is truly free to peruse the shelves. I don’t see him again until 2:30pm, where he drops down a few feet in front of me to grab volume four of Blood Lad. He turns the book over in his hands a few times and then leaves, nearly forgetting his shoes as he disappears towards the check-out desk. Around 2:45pm a girl in elephant pants approaches with a boy on her arm. They talk in low hushed voices. The girl picks up a Death Note book and says something under her breath. The boy lets go of her and tells her promptly that she looks great and doesn’t need to lose weight. He begins to mumble something else, clearly irritated. I give them a silent fist pump as they make their exit. I wish them the best. At 3pm the third character arrives, a rarity in this section. She’s embarrassed and red faced as she runs over to pick up a manga with a bunch of girls in practically no clothing on the cover. She flips through a few pages and nods to herself before pulling out her wallet and taking off towards the cashier. Why must we play these games blue-dress girl? Why? I respect her either way. Around 4pm, a man quite possibly the grandfather of time itself shuffles into the section. He looks as if he has fallen out of a Tolkien novel and has no idea how he ended up here. I’m writing furiously, practically smashing keys as I power through a fight scene, rigorously adding in dialogue tags and finding other words for “leaning.” He surveys me for a moment and then takes a step closer. I trust he knows that I’m not in fact a strange entity cursed to write in this corner forever (though I actually might be). He wanders over, searching the shelves and running his finger along the wood. Stopping short of the case, he reaches down and pulls out a tiny compact book. He sits down next to the shelf and for the next twenty minutes, cuddles up with book, the sweetest smile across his face. I don’t know who this guy is, but I want to be as happy as him someday. He is my new hero and I watch him out of the corner of my eye while pretending to write. When he leaves, he takes the sun with him and I’m left in the frozen wasteland that is this corner of Barnes and Noble.
What is this about though? What is the meaning of this? Simple. When I write myself into a hole, I set thirty minutes aside to do character studies of random people I see until I figure out how to properly transition in my story. I’ve figured it out now. So, signing off until I post the next section.