2nd Reads by the Sea: The Blue Sword by Tracy Joy Jones

Second Reads by the Sea —The Blue Sword

2nd Reads by the Sea: The Blue Sword by Tracy Joy JonesFor your reading pleasure. 🙂 Introducing “Second Reads by the Sea: The Blue Sword” — a short story by Tracy Joy Jones.

The bell above the bright blue door jangled merrily. Moshi’s head bobbed from the depths of his book to offer a greeting.

“Welcome to 2nd Reads by the Sea.”

The stranger waved her acknowledgment, spared him a small smile, and immediately began her search. Moshi wondered that she could see anything through the sunglasses she’d neglected to remove. Perhaps they had prescription lenses, and she needed them to read. Or perhaps she was so used to neglecting her own comfort that she forgot the little things. He watched her meander through the display tables, reading for a moment, frowning, and moving on. Clearly a woman on a quest. He smiled to himself and left her to her search.

Moshi Ackerman had always dreamed of running a library by the sea—a place where books could go out, linger on the shore, spread their magic, and come back to him with their stories. When he lost his precious wife to cancer, he decided to quit dreaming and start living. He packed his treasured books and a lifetime of picture memories and moved to the seaside town of Kingston, South Carolina.

At first, Moshi thought volunteering in the one-room public library might be enough to fulfill his dream, but the librarian made it clear that she deeply resented his offer of help. Ms. Mayweather saw it as both an intrusion into her domain and an insult to her capability. She had run the Kingston Library for fourty-three years, she’d have him know, and she had never needed help. The thought that the librarian needed help had never crossed Moshi’s mind — rather that he needed to help. He left with furrowed brows, slow steps, and a heavy heart. What did he do now?

As he pondered that question, Moshi read books and added new ones to his collection. He took long walks by the sea and got to know the people of Kingston. The locals accepted him readily. After all, a long time ago, his mother had been a Kingston girl. People said Moshi reminded them of an old sea captain, full of stories and time-weathered wisdom. He puzzled over that description because he didn’t know anything about boats. But he did love the sea, and he loved stories. That much was true.

The decision to open a bookstore came to him slowly, and then all at once when he found the perfect location just a kite’s sail from the ocean. Picture windows graced the storefront, and a popular local coffee shop shared a wall. People came and went all day, making it the perfect hub for the distribution of books and the study of human nature.

He named his store 2nd Reads by the Sea, which sometimes led people to the misconception that he only sold used books. In reality, he carried any book worth reading twice. As he was fond of explaining, the first read pulled readers along in a rush toward the ending with a longing just to know. The second read sank below the surface, penetrated fear, inspired courage, ignited kindness, and opened the imagination. The second read held the true magic.

In spite of his rapport with the locals, the majority of Moshi’s customers tended to be tourists looking for an easy beach read. Moshi didn’t mind. He enjoyed the challenge of convincing people to dig their toes in a little deeper.

“Read it twice. You won’t get what you need on the first read,” he solemnly challenged the woman as she brought her selection to the counter. Her floppy straw hat and sunglasses almost completely obscured her face. Perhaps she was a woman in hiding. Moshi’s inner book sense quickened. She may wear her pain close and deep, but her choice of book told him she searched for meaning and courage.

“Twice?” She gave a dismissive laugh. “I’ll be lucky if I get through it once. Our vacation is only five days long.”

She held a well-read copy of The Blue Sword in her hands.

“Read it for the adventure the first time. Read it for the treasure the second time. Trust me. You need the treasure.”

At his words, the woman frowned and slipped off her sunglasses, perhaps to better see if he was serious. Moshi often forgot to blink. It intimidated most people, but the woman didn’t look away. He couldn’t help hoping she would rise to his challenge.

Under his unfaltering gaze, her eyes welled with unshed tears, and Moshi’s vision shifted, as it so often did. The middle-aged woman in hiding melted away, and a girl-child stood in front of him. A girl full of hope and enthusiasm for life who’d dreamed of living large and making a difference in her world.

He couldn’t help challenging her again. “I promise, you will find the courage you seek if you will read it twice.”

She sighed and swallowed. Cowed into obedience at his insistence, she nodded. “Alright.”

He wasn’t sure whether she meant it, but Moshi chose to take her single-word answer as a binding contract.

“Come and tell me what you find at the end of the journey.” He left his cryptic words to resonate as he rang up her sale.

“Oh, I don’t know when I’ll get to come back here. My husband chooses where we go on vacation. We might go somewhere different next year. I never know.”

And there it was, the powerlessness over her own future, the resignation to live her life on another’s whim.

“You’ll be back,” Moshi said and grinned because his words carried power, and yet the heart of the issue the woman faced was finding the courage to follow her own heart.

“I guess we’ll both see,” she said, taking the 2nd Reads by the Sea bag from his outstretched hand. “Thank you.”

He watched her walk toward the door, her face pensive, footsteps uncertain. She glanced back over her shoulder, and Moshi felt a thrill of anticipation. If she listened to him, she would not be the same woman the next time he saw her.

He never knew when the book seeds he planted would come back to him. It might take a month, two months, or years. He never knew whether the next person through his door would return bearing the gift they’d received from a book or whether they would bring a new challenge hiding a deep need.

But the last thing he expected was to see the same woman in his shop only four days later. She strode through his door and straight to his counter, ignoring the tables of trinkets and carefully stacked displays of his favorite reads. He could immediately see the warrior maiden in her gait, her bearing, her eyes. She’d shed both her hat and her sunglasses. She was the same woman, and yet not the same at all.

“You’ve already read it twice,” he said with surprise. “You’re wearing Harry-sol’s gift.”

And she was. Her blue eyes flashed with renewed strength, determination, courage, and hope.

“I did. I couldn’t stop reading, and then I had to read it again just to see if you were right. How did you know? What is this?” She held out her hands as if they glowed with Harry’s blue magic and were somehow alien to her.

“It’s the courage you needed. The book was holding it for you.”

She met his eyes, her face filled with wonder. “The book held my courage? Is it magic?”

Moshi shrugged. “Perhaps. Or perhaps you simply needed the reminder so you could find your own courage. Perhaps you’ve been like Harry, pretending to fit into a world of trivialities when you are really a warrior with a fierce destiny ahead of you. Regardless, the question now is, what will you do with the gift? What cause will you champion? It is only now that your adventure begins.”

She nodded solemnly, looking back at her hands. Once again, Moshi’s vision shifted. He saw her drawing her blue sword and charging towards the battle, just as Harry had done.

The woman looked up again, a whimsical smile on her lips. “I used to dream of building water wells in Africa. Although… it sounds silly even to say it out loud. I remember first having the idea when I was only a young girl, about ten years old. I couldn’t do anything about it back then. And now, I’m only a housewife from Ohio. At least, that’s the story I’ve told myself. But I’m not just that, am I? I’m strong. I’m resourceful. I may not know exactly what I’m doing or how to do it, but I might never know until I begin. I can make a difference.”

Moshi grinned, feeling his own magic grow with her words. One book at a time, he thought to himself and began to chuckle. One life at a time.

“Indeed you can, my dear girl. Indeed you can.”

2nd Reads by the Sea: The Blue Sword by Tracy Joy Jones

Now Read the Book:

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinleyIf you haven’t read The Blue Sword, you’re in for a treat. It’s one of my annual reads. I listened to the audiobook this year for the first time, and it’s completely lovely. I love this story about a girl who thinks her quirks disqualify her, but in reality, everything unique about her is exactly what is needed to save a kingdom. She finds her courage, stands against impossible odds, and finds herself along the way. The book description on Amazon is terrible. I would never have read this book if the description was all I knew, so just take my word for it and get the audiobook through the app “Libby” if it’s available with your library. Or order your own copy. Just don’t forget to read it twice. 😉

The Blue Sword

Comments 2

  1. I absolutely LOVED this, Tracy!!! A wonderful story, a timely reminder at any age, and kept me reading to find out what happened to her and the “magic” within her being restored! Just precious!!!! Keep’m coming!!

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