Book One: Where I Begin

It was Aunty Lou who proposed it.

“She said, ‘what value can a book have if you cannot sell it?’” I informed the gaping Cardigan, but her eyes were lost in my stripes and it was quite beyond her to master her ears at the same time.

I would hate to think I had solved all those murders for naught, I had agreed. Tompkins had looked at me, confused perhaps. I must remember to ask him later.

The Bookseller was more dexterous, leaving his brows to ponder my spikes while he measured the rest of me. “What brings you here?”

“Be nice,” Aunt Em had begged, as she must. Aunty Lou had pursed her lips before acquiescing, “If it is beyond you to be appropriate then nice would most certainly be better than normal.”

So I cautioned my tongue, “I wrote a book.”

“Concerning?”

“Me.”

“And you are?”

“Mary Kate.”

He loosened his tie (a wise idea as it was clearly cutting the circulation to his senses). “And tell me, who will want to read all about you, Mary Kate?”

“Oh probably no one at all. The devout will undoubtedly find me blasphemous, while my fellow sinners will be troubled to find their life work amounts to a far less substantial offence than hoped.”

“Um, so why should I be interested in your book?”

“It answers the question.”

His brows returned to hunker down behind his lashes. “The question?”

“Do you have trouble with your ears?” I kindly raised my voice.

“The meaning of life?”

“You don’t know that?” I pondered his belt. Perhaps we had been too quick to judge the tie.

“Are we alone?”

I checked under the desk. “It appears so, though I am always wary of fleas.”

“Then what question?”

“Some things,” I smiled, “you really have to read for yourself.”

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