Short story: Pre-loved



It wasn’t first editions, the author’s signature inside, or the condition that interested Sylvie. It was difficult to explain even to herself, but it had something to do with the previous owner, and when she took hold of a book she just knew. Of course it helped if they had underlined passages, folded down corners, perhaps written a message in the front. “Pre-loved,” she called it.  And rarely found, but best of all, was when she came upon a postcard or a photograph tucked inside the yellowing pages.

With nervous anticipation, Sylvie pushed the door of the charity shop open.


This is part of the Friday Fictioneers writing group – where writers from all over the world write about 100 words using a photo as inspiration. This week the picture has been provided by John Nixon. Lots of other writers have written very short stories inspired by this photograph; click here to read other people’s and to join in. And please comment below with any suggestions for improvement on mine.

19 thoughts on “Short story: Pre-loved

  1. That would actually be a fascinating hobby — finding books that have obviously been well-loved and personalized. Well written, darling.


  2. Dear Claire,

    It seemed we were joined at the hip this week. Pre-loved. I like that. I actually have found newspaper clippings and postcards in old books. Stuff daydreams are made of. I enjoyed your story.




  3. Dear Claire,

    Your story, Pre-loved, went straight to my heart. It is one of those that I will remember for a long, long time. Timeless and pretty near perfect, evocative of the prompt, beautifully written. Flash fiction does not get better than this. I felt as though I was reading a section of a ‘great’ novel. Thank you for writing.




    • Ah, Doug, you’ve made my day. That’s such a generous note. I am working on my second novel, and this might be part of it. I don’t know about ‘great’ but Sylvie and her book buying habits may well come to light again.


  4. I love pre-loved books too! I love thinking of someone else reading, taking up their pen, and inscribing something. How could they have known I would pick it up someday and wonder about them?


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