The Soupster is thoughtful, hopeful & sad.
Submitted By Nan Metashvili
It was a typical Our Town day. Rain drizzled down, fog drifted around the forests like old spirits, and cold waves sloshed resolutely against the shore.
The Soupster was heading towards one of his favorite haunts, the library.
Though not as cozy as the old library, the new one still filled his needs. It was warm and dry, and its services were freely available to all. He would spend time reading the papers and check out a few books to feed his insatiable appetite for reading. With some amusement and no little sadness, he noted that 9.5 out of 10 people scattered around were reading, writing or playing on some sort of electronic device. Not many books to be seen, the old-fashioned kind, that is.
The smell of a brand-new volume to him was indescribable. He positively enjoyed the tactile sensation of turning pages, and the ease of flipping back to reread some passage. Many a time did he find it necessary to refresh his memory about some point mentioned 6 chapters ago. The Soupster was not shy about admitting he was getting on a bit and his little grey cells weren’t what they used to be. And he loved the elegance of choosing just the right bookmark to insert to keep his place. He had a whole collection of them.
As much as he loved reading books, there was also the social side of the library. No cold city institution, Our Town’s library was a lively place where friendships were formed and nurtured, where lonely after-school kids could safely hang out, and where even a few romances had happened. He could always count on finding a pal there to chat with.
As the Soupster picked up a recent nonfiction bestseller to sit and browse through, he noticed the person next to him. The two men both could sit there and gaze out at the unparalleled view of the ocean and small islands, the skiffs and trollers and sailboats going past. They could stay until closing time. They could use the bathroom.
But at closing time, the Soupster could go home to a comfortable and welcoming home, and the other chap obviously could not. Homeless was written all over him, from the shabby clothes, unwashed odor, and the look of sadness and fear in his eyes. Where will he go when the library closes? Out into the rain, and then?
The Soupster started to wonder why the town had to be so difficult for low income folks. Why could they not follow the example of some other communities around the country and take care of all their citizens?
Tiny houses, for example. He had lately been reading about places building tiny houses. Why did people crave McMansions anyway, when a smaller and adequate abode would do? Wouldn’t it be grand if Sitka could commit in a significant way to small and available homes?
The Soupster smiled sadly at the homeless man as the closing time lights flickered.
Then they both left the library.