They walk in together, every month or so, traveling from out of town, a thirty minute drive, always on a Saturday.
Date night, perhaps. Except that it's not night. And this isn't a couple that's getting to know each other. They don't ask about favorite movies or childhood nicknames, searching for common ground. They don't worry about filling silent spaces.
They're comfortable together, and enter with purpose. No one's dragging the other to a chick flick or an action thriller. No one stands around waiting. This is a shared destination.
He heads left and she heads right, and they search quietly for a while. She's out of eyesight, but he's in my room, pulling books one by one from shelves and reading back covers. There doesn't seem to be a system. The books he pulls range from mystery to light romance to classic.
They meet in the middle room, each with a stack.
"Have we read this one?" he asks as he holds up a book.
Sometimes the answer comes quickly. Sometimes the book changes hands so the other can read the back, or the first page, or the ending to see if it's familiar. Sometimes there's a short disagreement, but never raised voices or judgment.
Decisions are made jointly.
They bring their shared choices to my desk, enough to last a month or so. There are two Nicholas Sparks' in the pile. Picked by him, which is a slight surprise.
Although appropriate for date night, I suppose. The equivalent of going to a chick flick without complaint.
But then, I am making judgements. They don't.
"Have we read this one?" is all they need to know.