dulcinea.

[duhl-sin-ee-uh, duhl-suhneeuh]

noun

  1. a ladylove; a sweetheart.

I sit on the stool behind the cash register and throw my feet up on the shelf so my legs do not dangle. I open The Little Paris Bookshop and get completely lost in the story. It’s charming and inspirational and heart-wrenching. I’m no longer in the bookstore working, I’m on a boat on the Seine with a fifty-year-old man searching for the love of his life, his dulcinea, that most likely passed away twenty-one years ago.

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“Kastner was one reason I called my book barge the Literary Apothecary,” said Perdu. “I wanted to treat feelings that are not recognized as afflictions and are never diagnosed by doctors…The feeling that washes over you when another summer nears its end. Or when you recognize that you haven’t got your whole life left to find out where you belong. Or the slight sense of grief when a friendship doesn’t develop as you thought, and you have to continue your search for a lifelong companion. Or those birthday morning blues. Nostalgia for the air of your childhood. Things like that.”

He takes his boat full of books to search for the woman he cannot forget. The dulcinea who got him and made him feel alive. All others pale in comparison, in fact, he doesn’t even try so the comparison never begins.

I have a solitary tear forming in my eye. A customer opens the door. I stand up but my words aren’t coming out. I’m on a boat with Monsieur Perdu. I’m seasick by the transition back to reality.

“Hello” is what I get out far too late to be appropriate. I wipe my eye and dry my hand on my jeans.

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