A long, long time ago, something extraordinary happened at the small bookshop called Everything.
You know the one, on the corner of Silly & Serious.
It smells like old books; and new ones.
It has a little bell that signals someone coming in, or at least the door opening.
It has 2 large tables in a row, centred on the entrance, in the middle of the downstairs.
On it a mixture of smart books and silly ones. Important ones and fleeing ones.
The collection continuing alongside both walls.
Books with mostly words, and books with mostly drawings.
Books you can fit in your purse, and books more fit for a church.
And halfway on the right side is a spiral staircase going up, but with a chain closing off its ascent: visitors are not allowed.
In the left back corner a leather chair.
Her ‘thinking chair’ they called it. Because when she sat in it, she seemed to just stare into her shop. Not that many people had seen her do it, but someone caught a glance once and you know how it is in a small village like Reality.
But really it is her EntranceChair.
Unbeknownst to everyone, in this chair she enters her fantasy world where all her family lives.
And through this chair she enters back, into the world where the ‘normal’ people live.
It’s her connection between herself and Reality.
It has been the thing that kept her sane all these years.
Or at least as sane as she could muster up.
So the chair helps her intertwine her real life and her life in Reality.
Her real life being the showcase of all her personalities.
Reality being the small town she landed in by accident 24 years ago and never seem to be able to leave.
The main reason being the extraordinary bookshop she inherited from her crazy uncle.
Well, crazy, he seemed very normal to her, but most of Reality called him barking mad.
She always thought most of Reality was boring and her uncle the only real thing alive so she kept the bookshop open as long as there were creatures to be known.
Because one night, about three weeks after she had arrived, after she had closed the shop, exhausted, again, she sat down in this chair.
It was one of those old and worn leather armchairs with some knobs missing. Which was a good thing because those things had a way of pressing on you bum like a nail sticking out of a badly made park bench.
This chair was as comfy as cinnamon and vanilla. Homey like warm chocolate milk on a cold winters night. Deep enough to embrace her fully, like a homemade patchwork blanket. A perfect place to rest. She had done this for a few nights in a row now. But this night was different. She felt it. She was not alone. All of a sudden there was an obviously bright but shy little girl standing not far from her chair. She reminded her of herself. But how did she get into the shop? The door was closed, locked even. And why was this little girl out all by herself at this hour of the night?
It took a while for her to remember her uncle had told her this might happen, that the chair was special. She hadn’t believed him; caught up in her own struggle to survive in Reality she had thought “maybe they were right, maybe he was barking mad”.
But now there was, as she later came to know, Toinette. She just stood there, about 6 feet away. Holding on to her Poohbear, she couldn’t be much older than 4. Her big blue eyes staring at her, a tiny questioning smile around her tiny lips. She needed something but Leona didn’t know what at first. So she sat there. Which was strange because normally she would immediately try to get this child back to her parents. But now she was sort of fixated, like in a trance.
Toinette slowly walked forward and Leona finally started to stretch out her arms. As to slowly pick her up and place her on her lap.
But as soon as she moved, Toinette was gone.
Leona, flabbergasted at first, clicked back to her uncle’s story.
This is what he meant!
He had said “just sit there”. “Wait. And see. All will reveal itself.
All you have to do is write when it does.”
And she had!
She had gotten to know all 30 shades of ‘Crazy’ and through her the books had come.
Keeping the voices alive while keeping her sane.
Or as sane as you can stay in a town called Reality, in a small bookshop called Everthing on de corner of Silly & Serious.