At first, I didn't want to touch it. I thought it belonged to someone else; someone who left it behind absentmindedly. It looked very official marked as it was with a post-it and id numbers. I was taught to never touch something that doesn't belong to you - especially when it has easily identifiable markings.
The book was just sitting on a coffee table. In the sun. Alone.
And I desperately needed something to read....
Lonely books have always been a fetish of mine; in the same way that dinosaurs and ninjas are to little boys.
No longer able to withstand its draw, I made my move. At the threshold of satisfaction I was cut off by a deft maneuver; another moth had been circling this flame and when I threw caution to the wind, so did she.
It was an awkward moment.
Neither one of us looked confident that what we were doing was remotely acceptable - or legal. We were in unknown territory.
I gave her a sheepish look, "is this yours?"
She shook her head. I was afraid she was going to take it. I saw it first, and by the ancient laws of finders-keepers I was entitled to first dibs.
But how to wrest it from her grip?
I sized her up: she was small and slender, easily moved by a stiff breeze. I could take her. Except size matters little. She'd already proven her cat-like reflexes, and I have a bad habit of dropping my left guard. Besides this, the 'I saw it first' defense has little legal precedent. Brute force would only add to the potential charges of theft – a judge would not look kindly on me.
It was here that I thought of the wisdom of King Solomon. My only hope was that the universe recognized the principles of finders-keepers and entrusted me as the book's rightful owner.
"Why don't you keep it?" I've been working out lately, and I tried to flex a little arm muscle. She held the book a moment longer, caressing the cover with greedy eyes.
I'm not sure if it was all the flexing, or basic social pleasantries, but she finally relented, "no," she said, "that’s ok. You take it."
My faith restored, I took the book from her and made my way home where I was able to inspect the cover a little more closely. I hadn’t stolen it at all! My guilt subsided.
I look forward to a good tale - and more bicep curls.