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A Summer Love Triangle MAG
It was July, the summer of 2007. Briny air clung to my skin as I stretched my towel out over the sand. The sun was hot but not uncomfortable. I reached into my beach bag, excited to have a free day at the beach. I pulled a tattered, mildew-scented paperback out of my bag and groaned. Maybe this wouldn’t be such a restful day after all.
My dad is a voracious reader, and for his fiftieth birthday I had created a private book club for the two of us. He is constantly traveling for business, so I thought it would be a great way to spend time together doing something we both love. The first book on our list was Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. My vision had been lofty: we would read side by side in huge leather chairs and discuss interesting themes while sipping cappuccino and educating ourselves with great literature.
Dad had embraced my vision and plowed through the heavy tome with gusto. In fact, three months had passed since he finished the book, while I hadn’t gotten past the first three long, dull pages.
Surprised by how quickly the summer days were drifting by, I promised myself that July was the month of Dickens and Dickens alone. But the constant lure of the warm ocean and cool breezes left me with little time to settle into a good book. When I sunbathed with my friends, they would doze, flip through magazines, or read chick-lit beach books. There I was, the next towel over, trying to focus my sun-soaked eyes on the pages of Dickens’ magnificent yet exhausting prose. The margins were so small, the print so miniscule! As the days sweated along, I began to dread opening that torn and musty book resting reproachfully on my nightstand.
I had made some progress (page 20 of 805) when, on July twenty-first, just as I was dog-earing my page to grab some lunch, my mother called up that a package was waiting for me in the kitchen.
I double-checked the date before I allowed my heart to start racing. It was the twenty-first, to be sure – the date pre-ordered books had been promised. My hands began to shake with anticipation; every limb in my body trembled as I realized the long-awaited day had arrived. I flung poor David Copperfield to the foot of my bed and sprinted downstairs, each mad footstep screaming Harry’s name.
The shipping label stated to the world that he belonged to me. After I’d spent months dreaming of his arrival, Harry Potter, the seventh and final, was at last mine. Thoughts of young Copperfield and his foolish wife, Dora, were swept aside as my elated mind cleared room for incantations and potion recipes.
With excitement, I tore open the package, freeing Harry from his bonds. Cardboard shreds fell to the floor as I held the book for the first time. Its brand-new yellow cover shone like the blazing sun. Mine, all mine! I hugged the thick novel to my chest, welcoming Harry into my arms, welcoming him home.
Eating wasn’t necessary; I had a private date with Harry Potter planned for this evening. I carried him to my room and placed him on my pillow. I unconsciously put Copperfield in my nightstand drawer, hiding him in the darkness while I slowly opened the cover of my new treasure.
Harry smelled delicious. I think he was wearing my favorite cologne: new book. Not a hint of mildew in his beguiling aroma. Propping the book up on my knees, I dove into the magical world I had missed so dearly.
Hours passed me by unknowingly until it was three in the morning; I was the only one up in my house. I pulled my lamp closer so the room was black except for the halo of light surrounding Harry and me. Guilty thoughts of my abandoned David flickered across my mind as I turned the pages. I had never stayed up this late to be with him, never skipped dinner to enjoy David’s quiet company. I felt like I was in a whirlpool, being sucked deep into this addictive relationship with Harry.
A corner of my mind considered David, growing dusty in my drawer, alone and deserted. What would he think of me? I feared his judgment, his mute reproach. But wait, Harry had defeated Voldemort! He was going to beat him once and for all! My eyes swelled with proud tears and my throat tightened at the thought of my beloved grinning triumphantly over his fallen enemy.
Thoughts of Copperfield vanished as I realized that it was over, all over; the boy I had spent five years of my life obsessing and fantasizing over was now a grown man and married. The epilogue left me no room for interpretation; Harry was lost forever, bound to that red-haired brat. He was gone, escaping from my eager grasp as quickly as he had entered it. Rejection stabbed me like a Cruciatus Curse.
The next morning I was cranky. My scrambled eggs had a copper aftertaste, and I gave a nasty look to anyone who asked me to pass the orange juice. I felt dissatisfied not only by the mediocre eggs but by the way Harry Potter ended – and the realization that it had ended. I had let myself get so absorbed in this fantasy world that I couldn’t fathom a return to reality. Had the past 12 hours really ended? Could it be? Was Harry no longer a part of my life?
I couldn’t accept that I would never experience that tingling rush of excitement upon opening a just-released Potter book again. Never again would I smell the distinctive bouquet of freshly printed pages mixed with mystery and anticipation. Never again would my imagination be so thoroughly captivated that I could hardly eat or drink, let alone sleep.
My melancholy attitude persisted throughout the day. Lying on the blistering sand as my magical fling faded, my thoughts reverted to an earlier and perhaps deeper love. Dear old David Copperfield sat patiently in my canvas bag, awaiting my caress. The paperback felt flimsy in my hands, so used to Harry’s durable hard cover. The texture was not unwelcome, however, and I admired David’s classic appeal with a new appreciation. The novel fell open to where I had left off and, like a lost friend, he raced back into my life with undiminished fervor. With one last longing sigh for my lost Harry, I dove back into my relationship with David with renewed commitment.
As the humid July nights melted into cooler August ones, I nestled close to his fictional body. We sat together throughout the tiresome five-hour plane ride to California. His intelligent prose comforted me as I fought with my best friend. David aged, became a widower, and wrote a book as I made new friends, enjoyed the summer heat, and readied myself for the coming school year.
The dense pages began to loosen up as I learned to appreciate David’s wit and remarkable intellect. Where I had previously thought us so different, I began to see that we shared much. Throughout the time we spent together, he made me laugh, cry, and think. My eyes grew accustomed to the small print as I felt myself being drawn into an even more vivid world than Harry Potter’s.
My friends questioned the bulky novel I lugged around. Why wasn’t I reading the latest Gossip Girl? Could that thick text really be just for fun? No one could understand my relationship with Copperfield, nor could they identify with my desperate need to stay up all night with Potter.
I never mentioned to David my activities that night he spent in the drawer. The adulterous secret burned in my chest like a hot coal. But I decided that what David didn’t know couldn’t hurt him. As I lay awake one evening, shivering in the cool breeze from my window, I realized that few people could comprehend the affection I shared for my two conflicting loves, David and Harry.