They showed a movie that I had already seen and couldn't bring myself to watch again. The old man sitting right next to me did not seem to be interested in the movie, either. He was too busy browsing his book. Since I was too tired to read and too curious to sleep, I decided to watch him from the corner of my eyes.
It looked as if he was just randomly opening pages, so I tried to make out a system behind his behaviour. I soon gave up looking for one when I noticed that the old man was not reading a single word but stared right through the pages. There was not even a certain pace by which he turned from one random page to the other. What made it even worse was that he kept on closing the book, looked out of the window, and then inserted his bookmark at some totally arbitrarily point of the book, a different one each time.
There was obviously no use in trying to find out what the old man's motivation was. I thus directed my concentration towards the book itself, hoping to find just one hint for this weird occurence. I tried hard not to examine the thing too overtly, yet the old man caught me twice while I was curiously bending forward my head, staring at the book. He didn't seem to be upset about my indecency, gave me a simple smile and turned back to the window.
The book was bound in linen and bore no inscriptions on it. I wasn't able to catch a sight of any of its pages and started getting tired of guessing what the hell was going on.
"Excuse me, Sir."
He turned around.
"I've got a question. What book are you reading there? I don't want to be obtrusive, but I am asking since you seem to browse the book randomly and continue reading it from a different point than the one you stopped with."
He frowned and looked at the book, then back into my eyes. "I don't think I understand what you are saying. This book here is a simple novel and I read it the way most people would do it, from the first to the last page. In that order."
"Well, if that is true, why aren't you putting your bookmark at the page you stopped reading it at? You don't even look where you insert it!"
The old man was obviously confused. He opened the book, took the bookmark out and started browsing the pages. "Really?" He looked back up to me, his face totally stunned. A tear formed in the corner of his right eye and finally rolled down his cheek. "Why did you have to tell me that?"
I thought I heard a silent click somewhere in the background. The old man opened his mouth to tell me something, but closed it without saying anything. I wanted to respond to the unsaid, but didn't even start when I felt the rising pressure on my entrails. I looked around me and saw everyone sitting there quiet and calm. Finally, I turned my eyes to the old man's book that lay unfolded in his lap. All its pages were blank.