The Struggle
by JuBee
circa September 1997


Natalie grabbed her coat and leaped for the door, nearly
knocking down Grace.

"Whoa! Hold on a sec there," Grace commanded. "I
demand to know where you're going in such a hurry."
There was a twinkle in her eye as she grinned at
Natalie. "Got a hote date waiting for you? Maybe a
certain detective over at the precinct? Hmm...???"

Natalie smiled sheeplessly. "Not quite Grace."

"Then what? You were watching the clock for the
past five minutes waiting for your shift to be over!"

"Well...I'm going to pick up a book."

Grace stood there, stunned for a moment. "What? Nat,
I seriously think you need to get out more often."

"But Grace, you don't understand! I've been waiting for this
book for...forever! And, you're delaying me now...I gotta run."

With that, Natalie was out of the building.Grace looked after
her, shaking her head.

***********************

"Damn! Where is it????" Natalie searched fervently, from shelf to
shelf of the bookstore. A woman was stocking books over to her left.

Nat cleared her throat. "Ahem...excuse me, I was wondering if this book-
store carried this title..."

"What is it?"

"A Rustling of Ashes," Natalie explained. "It's based on my favorite TV
show. Maybe you've heard of it? It's called Fleeting Day..."

"No."

"Oh."

"Well, can you check to see if it's in yet? I've been waiting for this book
for a long long time."

"Sure." The lady punched in the title on her computer. "Umm...did you try
Science Fiction or Fantasy?"

"Yes! It's not there."

"How about Horror?"

"Yes. Not there either."

"Then, it might still be at our warehouse. Would you like to order it?"

"YES!"

Natalie gave the saleswoman her phone number.

"It will take from 10 days to 2 weeks."

What a long time, Nat thought. She didn't know if she could wait that long.
What the hell? Rims is right around the corner. Might as well check to see if

they have it.

Nat walked over to Rims and searched again through the shelves for A Rustling
of Ashes. Nothing.

She implored a saleswoman to help her find it, and when Nat mentioned that
she had placed an order with the other bookstore for that very same book, the
lady was all too obliging to search for her novel.

Nat stood around waiting for almost half an hour when the lady appeared,
shaking her head. "Nope. I looked through five bins...nothing. But, you can
place a special order with us. It'll take from two to four weeks."

Nat's face fell. "No thanks...but I appreciate your help."

She slowly walked out of the bookstore, deciding to try again tomorrow.

************************************

Nat rushed out of her apartment, this time, determined to have her book.
She remembered that there were two Barnes and Nobles a few miles away.
Why hadn't she thought of checking them out?

She practically ran into the store, heading straight for the fiction section.

Nothing. The worker checked her computer, and saw that yes, they did
have the books. But, if they weren't on the shelf, that meant they were still
in the boxes. "You can call us tomorrow, and we'll put it on hold for you,"
she
offered.

"I don't want to place an order, I don't want to come back another time!"
Natalie felt like screaming. Instead, she grudgingly left the store. Okay, one more
bookstore left, Lambert. This has got to be it.

Natalie walked slowly to the next Barnes and Noble, which happened to be
conveniently located a few blocks away from the one she had just visited.

The fictional books were located on the very top floor. Natalie trudged up
the
escalators, daring to hope that *finally* she would get her book.

Quickly scanning the titles, she didn't see it.

She went to ask a salewoman, yet again, if they had the book. But there,
behind the counter, she saw it. The book. The novel she had been waiting for.
She saw...

****A Rustling of Ashes!!!!!!!!!!****

Natalie felt like leaping for joy. She hurriedly grabbed the book and sat
down on a chair and began to read. She couldn't resist.

"Excuse me, Miss...did you just take that from the counter?"

"Yeah, it was just sitting there," Nat explained.

"I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask you to return it."

Natalie felt the anger rising out of her ears, and exploding out of her
mouth; Nat
heard herself shouting quite a few number of expletives.

"Look *&*&$^#^##!#!#!@#!#!#!#!#!$@%#^&$&$&$^@$$!~#^$&!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"I'm sorry, but the book is on the counter for a reason," the woman replied
haughtily. "You're just going to have to give it back!"

Nat held onto her book for dear life. "I dare you to come and get it," she
threatened. "That's the only way you're gonna get this from me."

A crowd had gathered around the scene now, but Nat didn't care. No one was
taking this book away from her.

"NAT?????"

Nick was staring at her, open-mouthed.

"Hi Nick," Nat said, a little flushed, and very much embarrassed.

"Sir, I'm sorry, but I can't seem to get your book away from this woman."
The saleslady glared at Natalie.

"Um...this is your book?" Nat asked, feeling more than a little foolish.

"Yeah."

She handed him the book, then looked around at the crowd that was still
watching her with curiosity. "What did I do?" She said to herself. "I can
never set foot inside this bookstore again."

She offered her hand to the salewoman. "Umm...sorry?"

The saleswoman glared at her. "As if this town isn't overrun with enough
quacks..."

Nat felt herself turning red.

Nick led her away from the curious eyes and towards the travel section.

"Look Nat, if you want it so badly, you can have my copy."

"Really Nick?" She threw her arms around him.

"Actually, ahem...I remember you talking about it and...well, I ordered one
for
you. I got mine yesterday."

Nat stared at Nick furiously. "Do you know how much trouble I went through
to get that book????"

"I'm sorry. I wanted it to be a surprise," Nick said, giving her one of those
wounded puppy dog looks that she just couldn't resist.

"Fine, fine" Nat said grudgingly. Then, her eyes shone.
"So..tell me, what did you think of the book?"

"Well...I can't put my finger on it but...it's sounds very very familiar...."

The End