She was seven years old, dodging puddles on the walk home, hopping over the cracks in the pavement, rushing to get away from school. She wanted to get away from the classes, and the nosy and the strict teachers, get away from all the other boys and girls. She wanted to go home, go in her room, and lock herself away in her books. Because she didn’t want to have to have to think about the classes, or the girl who laughed at the way she said something, or think about how she had to go to school again the next day.
Instead, she got out her copy of Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone, whizzing through it, moving onto the rest, moving onto Percy Jackson, moving onto Michael Morpurgo, then to Cathy Cassidy… soon she’s thirteen, staying in her room reading Twilight, Hush Hush, The Hunger Games, fifteen and delving into the worlds of Cassandra Clare and Veronica Roth… it seems like everyone else is going out with their friends, having sleepovers, going for meals… all the while she’s sitting in her room, closing the page of her diary, to read another chapter of John Green.
She’s at college now, she’s doing A Levels, she thinks it’s okay, but still her room and her world of books is where she will always want to be.
The pages of Young Adult have been replaced by covers of Dickens and Austen, to make room on her shelves, she discards the copies of Roald Dahl and Jacqueline Wilson, places them in boxes and puts them under the bed… instead the leather bound copies take over, a mismatch of clean new copies and the musty scent of the little gems found in charity shops.
She’ll go to the local tea room, writing down the thoughts, the ideas, making up characters in worlds miles and miles away, listening to the calm melody through headphones. She’ll sip at her tea, writing and writing, until it gets cold and she puts on her scarf, she walks home with her head down, smiling, thinking of her story, and what might happen next. Somebody stops her for directions, she gives them happily, and goes home, quickly eating the mash and fishcake, to get to the next chapter.
The next day at college goes much like the day before, staying out of peoples way, listening to what the others have to say rather than speaking, jotting down story notes in the margins of her notebook, locked in the world of her books.
The books are what got her through, that which made her smile, cheered her up on the hard days, gave her hope when she felt like she was nothing, friends when she was lonely.
She built her world from the pages of her books, the characters gave her the courage she needed, the stories, the love and life that she wanted.
And while writing, while reading, in that little tea room, she found her own story.
Her story that would go on to define the rest of her life.
And it all came from the opening of a book.