Harry Potter at the Urologist

My husband and I have been spending a regrettable amount of time in doctors’ waiting rooms. Particularly at his urologist’s, a dreary beige holding pen full of old men with worried expressions. Women are rare and children even rarer, so I noticed the little boy immediately. He was around ten years old and he wasn’t paying any atttention to any of us boring adults.

He had a thick hardcover book on his lap. He was absorbed, lost in the story. The chairs are not comfortable so he was wriggling and twisting as he read, but he never looked away from the page. Someone had removed the dustjacket and the spine of the book was rubbed and worn so I could not read the title.

But I knew. I was far enough away so I couldn’t read the text over his shoulder. It didn’t matter. It had to be a Harry Potter and I was almost sure I knew which one. Then he turned a page and I saw the chapter illustration: the wriggling gilliweed of The Second Task in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

I wanted to say something to him, but all I could think of were the horrible condescending adults from my childhood who would interrupt me constantly with inane questions. “What are you reading? Do you like to read? What’s it about?” I wanted to tell him I’d met J.K. Rowling (briefly) and how wonderful it was to hear her read, I wanted to ask him about his favorite part of the book and his favorite characters. I wanted to share mine with him. But I didn’t. I watched him and I hoped it was his first time reading Harry Potter. I envied him that.

Total absorption must run in his family. His father left the treatment room, walked through the waiting room and out into the hall before coming back and collecting his son. The boy walked out with his finger holding his place in the book; he wasn’t in the Muggle world at all.

I want someone, somewhere, to get lost in one of my books just like that. If I could do that for one person, once, I would be a success as a writer.

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Mary Holland

Mary Holland writes alternative-world fantasy for grown-ups. Her books include Matcher Rules, The Bone Road, and The Dog of Pel. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with three cats and an ever-changing assortment of wildlife.

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