Ruth Z. Deming has had her work published in lit mags including Literary Yard, Blood and Thunder, Pure Slush, O-Dark-Thirty, and Your One Phone Call. A psychotherapist, she lives in Willow Grove, a suburb of Philadelphia. She's always proud to be published in Scarlet Leaf Review.
NOW YOU SEE ME, NOW YOU DON’T
I’ve been traveling, give or take, about ten years. Such is my lifespan. I’m considered quite popular so there are actually one-thousand copies of me. Of course, they mutilate me. Stamped on top with black ink is written “Montgomery County, PA, Central Library.” I’m in a canvas bag which reads, “Property of the Library.”
Into the bag with me are crushed an assortment of five other hard-back books, three DVDs, and two soft puppets. All my life I have been a book, born in a bindery, with soft paper, now slightly discolored. Occasionally a patron man-handles me – I doubt on purpose – so I’m sent to the “Mechanical Room” where I undergo a sort of surgery. Since I’m not a sentient being all I feel is a little tickle.
I try not to think of what will happen to me when my time is up. While I’m still fairly young and beautiful, with a full cover copy, I understand I can be recycled, similar to some people who have compost heaps. Their egg shells and pressed lemons and bits of celery are eaten by fox, deer, crows and raccoons.
The family I just stayed with lived in some sort of house. Houses are bigger than apartments or, in a few cases, nursing homes, where people are always bustling about.
This family sat down in the den, smelling of a spaghetti-and-meatballs dinner. Daddy said, “We’ll all take turns reading.”
“Me, first, Daddy,” said a little girl, who was wearing a yellow nightgown.
“Me wanna go first,” said a little boy in pajamas with trains on them and footsies .
He stood up and began screaming.
“Go to your room, now,” said Daddy.
“You don’t love me,” said the little boy who was carried upstairs by Mommy.
The little girl, who had black hair and black eyes, cleared her throat and began to read.
“Where’s Papa going with that axe,” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.”
She continued to read, offering up a few yawns.
At one point the little boy peeked from the stairs.
“All right, son,” said Daddy. “Come down and listen. But no more screaming fits.”
I enjoyed my two weeks with the family before they drove over to the Upper Moreland Library, stopped their car, and dropped me down the chute.
It was like a roller coaster ride and I giggled.
Soon another book fell on top of me and then another.
Where, I thought, will they send me next.