Her slim novella was sandwiched between a dull monograph and a three-volume encyclopaedia, which partly explained why Sorrow for Sawdust had not been lent out even once since it had first appeared on the shelves of the New York Public Library. Each week, Victoria Woodruff, the author, would visit the library, anxiously. But each time her novella would still be there, gathering dust.
She had urged friends and colleagues to lend it out, but most of them possessed copies already – with a personal inscription no less – so none of them did. She had even tried rearranging the books on the shelf to make her novella stand out, but the library staff quickly put a stop to that. That is why, five years on, Victoria was about to violate an unwritten author honours code. She would be lending out her own book.
Ignoring the glint of disapproval in the eyes of the stone lions at the entrance, she walked the same route she walked every Saturday, with one big caveat. At the end, there was no book. Between the monograph and the encyclopaedia remained just a small void, barely recognisable as a space roomy enough to house a book.
It appeared that Sorrow for Sawdust had finally found a reader and that left Victoria elated. She had slaved for three years on the novella and spent another two finding a publisher. Five years later, it appeared she had a certified reader.
Victoria whistled her way out of the building, so happy she did not notice the truck parked in front of the library or the man tossing in unloved books by the bulk, ready to be pulped. Had she known her novella was among them, surely Victoria would have appreciated the bitter irony of its title.
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