It smelled like an old book because it was one. He’d liberated it from his mother’s collection upon moving out. He took it because it had been one of his favorites when he was younger. Now it tended to sit on the shelf, unread and hardly noticed, but he would feel its loss if someone were to remove it.
The pages were stained. Some of the stains were his mother’s fault, some his. He opened it to page 239 and touched the tea stain, remembering how he had knocked over the glass next to him when he heard the doorbell.