- “Do you have that book?” a patron asks. You reply, “I’m sorry, could you be more specific?” “The book,” is the only answer you get. This happens with three more patrons today. “I’m sorry,” you say to them all, “I don’t know what book you’re talking about.” The book. The book. The Book. Should you know The Book? Should you have The Book?
- An elderly couple comes in every morning for the newspaper. Nobody remembers a time that they didn’t. They have always been elderly. There’s a faint foul smell in the library when they’re in.
- There is a branch on the system map that you’ve never heard anyone talk about. You’ve never seen books with their branch sticker come in and you’ve never sent books to them. You asked a co-worker about it once, but they just smiled and asked how much shelf reading you got done that day. You tried to find it once, but kept finding yourself in the same grocery store parking lot over and over.
- You weed for hours. There are no fewer books on the shelves. You weed for days. There is still no room for the new books that have come in. You weed for months. You feel like you’ve withdrawn a lot of these books already. You know you threw this stained, tattered, moldy copy of Bleak House in recycling a while ago. You weed for years. You weed forever.
- (You never weed books on witchcraft. In fact, you put ten brand new ones on the shelf yesterday. They have already disappeared.)
- One day the elderly couple doesn’t come in. The library has a much fouler smell that usual during the time they’re regularly in.
- You go through a box of donations and at the very bottom you find a copy of Ramona Quimby, Age 8. You loved that book as a child, and it looks like the same edition. You open it to check the publishing date and there is your name and childhood phone number written in purple crayola marker in your 8-year-old self’s handwriting. You did not grow up around here. Your family is not close.
- You go through a box of donations and at the very bottom you find a book with a photo used as a bookmark. You take it out to let the patron know they left it in there next time they come in. The photo is of a child at the beach and you would swear that it was a picture of you, but you have no memory of that swimsuit and no memory of that beach. The patron does not return.
- You go through a box of donations and at the very bottom you find a book written in a language you can’t identify. You pass it around to your coworkers, and none of them know either. You upload a picture of the cover to reverse google image search and there are no matches. You open the book to double check for copyright information and you don’t know how you missed it until now but there is your your name and childhood phone number written in purple crayola marker in your 8-year-old self’s handwriting.
- “Do you have that book?” a patron asks. You reply, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what book you’re talking about,” even though this time you get the nagging feeling that you do.
Somebody, please write this!
Okay, so on the spur of the moment last night, I tried to write a little bit of this, and it went a completely different direction than I’d expected it to and does NOT reflect my views of anyone or anything. I was just toying with some ideas and conflicts I’d seen among the Tumblr community. This is a case where the narrator is nothing like the author. I think body positivity and anything that breeds good mental health are good things. 🙂
It doesn’t have a name, but it’s just shy of 250 words.
The library is open. Cobwebs spin by the vents. Born of sacrifice, our shelves rise from the echoes of the dungeons we keep. The cauldrons froth over, new tomes spilling out by the week. Our gargoyles maintain the balance, seeking those who would abuse the privilege we provide.
Fine. Sneak in. Read a book. But don’t you dare take it with you without checking out at the desk first.
Candles light our offices. We keep a steady supply of chalk handy. Dust is our idea of lovely decor.
We’ve guarded this sanctuary for centuries now. But sugar witches think we’re the problem. Somehow.
Their lavender scrubs and tea baths are sanctimonious. Body positivity spells? Mirrors enchanted to remind you of your true beauty? Placebos–all of them.
They focus on bathing themselves with gum drops but ignore the demons lurking over their shoulders. Flower petals can’t keep you safe. But Helena has done her damage. They plan to attack us soon. Yes, us, the ones who have given the power of knowledge and protection to this city for all this time. But we dabble in blood and bones and the things that go bump in the night. They’re going to strike during the day, when their magic is at its strongest. The golden light of the sun burns down upon our macabre haunt. But this is our town. And we are here to stay.