Gia January 28, 2020


The tip of his finger slid down the spine, feeling every bump in the title along the way. Thin charcoal letters, seared into the creamy white hardcover. He paused. Tilted his head to the side. Raised an eyebrow. Why was he in the back of the bookstore?

He shook his head and resumed, gently pulling the tattered story from the shelf. No clue who the author was. The cover intrigued him, but he knew better than to judge.

A peculiar choice of artwork. Just words, lots of words, layers of words toppled over each other until you couldn’t make anything out. He studied from all angles. The title could only be found on the spine, the very spine that had caught his attention.





He absentmindedly tapped his thumb on the outer corner, biding his time. All he had wanted was Kerouac’s On the Road from the window display. Second edition, great condition.

Forgetting the entrance that had lured him in, he now found himself in the darkest corner of the shop, with the strangest no-name in hand. He had no idea what he was doing or why he was doing it, but this feeling of uneasiness was better than feeling nothing at all.

Here goes nothing. The fragile binding cracked and groaned as he slowly turned the cover to reveal the front page. One word, the title stamped in the center. He ran his finger along the edge of the pages, and it almost felt like they were trembling in his hand.

He flicked a page. Paused. Read. Then another. Flick, pause, read.

The story pulled him in by the neck, encasing him in streams of words and inaudible moans and distant memories. He tightened his grip on the cover with one hand and continued turning the pages with the other. The words shivered on the pages and the pages shivered in his hand. Flick, pause, read, flick. Only faster, more feverish now. He had to finish the story.

Then the climax came. Abrupt. Abundant. Heart racing a mile a minute, he looked down and reality kicked in to reveal the denouement.

His fingers were soaking wet as he slid them out. She was soaking wet, but she seemed less and less phased as she regained her breath. She straightened her back, took a step away from the shelf he had pushed her against, and readjusted her short, backless, creamy white dress.

He stared at her in disbelief, casting a final furtive glance at the vertical four-letter tattoo that flowed down her spine.

“Thanks. Wanna come to a party with me tonight?”

It was 1981 in New York City, and we all know this won’t have a happy ending.


Featured image © Elsa Bleda
Visual Stories is a series in which I create fictional prose for photographs that inspire me. In other words – a made-up short story behind a picture that sparked my imagination.
Please support Elsa Bleda’s beautiful work at @elsableda & check out her series for the Public House of Art to learn more about her background, style, and vision.
If Elsa’s photo and/or my imaginary story for it spoke to you, share this piece with someone who needs to see/read it.


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