Saturday 14 November 2020

Arnie's List


by Gill James

Earl Grey

Arnie typed the ISBN into the panel on the wish-list. He clicked the submit button and waited as the computer whirred and clicked for several seconds. Then a picture of the book appeared and he noted that he could buy 48 new, the cheapest priced at just one penny.

It was odd, though. When he started he’d had 2,000 books on his wish list and now he still had 2,000.  Had somebody bought him something? Probably not. It was May and his birthday was a few days before Christmas. And then he remembered that if somebody ordered something, it didn’t disappear from the list. Last year he’d received a copy of the latest Pratchett book from each of his three children. Didn’t they talk to each other? He’d gone on the forums and it had been confirmed: items weren’t removed from wish-lists unless the owner brought the product. The online book store wanted the surprise to be retained.

It was daft. He’d never remember himself what was on the list. It would be a surprise to receive something he’d forgotten he wanted. 

Now it looked as if he needed to go to the forums again. Did they really only let you have 2,000 items on the list?  Did they take off the oldest item when you added a new one?

Half an hour later it was confirmed. You couldn’t keep more than 2,000 items on your list. He was over capacity.

He was about to log off when he noticed a message with an intriguing title. “Immortality rules okay.”  What was that about? He opened it.

“It’ll take you forty years to read that lot, mate. And what about the rest?”

The guy was right. On average, Arnie knew, he read about fifty books a year. And he was already sixty-five. Certainly, as well, there were new books coming out all of the time, often better than what had gone before.     

He looked apprehensively at the fifty unread books lined up on his shelf. A year’s worth there. He shuddered. 

No more items on his wish list, then. It was a wicked waste of time anyway, wasn’t it,  trawling though all those review magazines, looking for gems.

He’d get himself one of those e-readers and load it up with a year’s worth of books. The kids could send him tokens. And he’d only buy more if he’d got less than fifty on the device. He’d save hours that way and therefor have more time for reading.    

He pressed the delete button.

“Are you sure you want to permanently delete your wish-list?” the machine asked.

Arnie confirmed.

He sat back in his chair, feeling liberated.          

About the author 

Gill James is published by, amongst others, Tabby Cat Press, The Red Telephone, Butterfly, The Professional and Higher Partnership and Continuum. She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Salford University.

She edits CafeLit.

She has an MA in Writing for Children and PhD in Creative and Critical Writing



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