Her Library

Her Library

A Story by Glenn Scott

Short Story

"Oooh... sliding doors!"

He was doing his best to be aloof. It was better that this was no big deal.
In truth he had visited this library before - once or twice actually, though he could hardly remember it. So technically he wasn't lying when he claimed his unfamiliarity.

"Love the windows - gives a nice foresty-light vibe," he said, in what he prayed was his usual determinedly jaunty tone.

"Yup!" she said almost dismissively, "I love 'em. But this isn't the part of the library we're headed to."

His head snapped back to attention and followed her past strangely shaped figures, marble and flesh alike, until they reached a staircase. He hung back a moment before he descended, trying to brace himself.

It was a really tiny staircase, he discovered. Hardly much of one at all it seemed, and it only shrunk as he continued down. Finally, just as he was deciding that maybe he should consider a tactful retreat and give the girl some time, he reached the bottom.

It was a plain room, though it didn't feel like it. It was the same as most other cheaply constructed city-funded rooms. But the sigh it gave off was older; more hallowed than upstairs had been. It blended awkwardly with the casual, disgruntled appearances of the other visitors.

"Woah there," he spat out as he saw the girl's quickly departing back.

"Wait up, please?"

She didn't turn around, she simply took another, larger step, (more of a skip to be honest) and threw a thoughtless lopsided tongue at him.

Sighing, he upped his speed and jogged down the row of bookshelves after her.

"Okay, I have a list of what I'm going to get, so this shouldn't take too long," she said busily, not looking at him.

"That's cool, I'll just explore then!"

"Sounds good."

He was not really interested in looking around, though. As he wandered the bland shelves, he couldn't help but feel as though he was unwanted. Ordinarily he came alive in libraries, especially ones new to him. And by all certain means this one should've provided more than enough novelty; there were stained glass windows for hell's sake.

Even glancing at the titles - which ordinarily would've been a fair adventure by itself - felt cold and hostile. The books didn't seem to want to give him their names.

Eventually he found himself looking at everything he could to avoid the books. The cheap battered chairs in the corner were, he found, the most welcoming of all the residents. They were sufficiently worn, and were like a row of old men, alert enough to notice newcomers but too tired to give much of a damn.

Finally, finally, the girl came back.

"Find what you were lookin' for?" he said as generically as he could.

"No! One of the ones I wanted is checked out. Any recommendations?"

"Umm..." he wracked his brain, trying to come up with one measly title. They didn't come to him as easily as they did for her; for whatever reason his memory just refused to file the names of books for very long.

After he had made a couple of unreceived suggestions, he forced a desperate glance at one of the shelves.

"What about this?" He said, pulling a book with a name he just managed to recognize. "I've never read it myself, but I've heard good things."

It was a noble effort, he thought, but before he could be too proud she had inspected it and put it away. Despite slight disappointment, relief flooded his limbs. He was still uncomfortable - maybe more so than ever - but at least there were no longer any expectations.

Even more luckily, she soon informed him that she had found a suitable replacement novel, and that it was time to head back upstairs. He felt good going back up the stairs, and jokingly pushed her up the first flight. She resisted, but wasn't heavy and they quickly got the landing halfway up.

She said something to him, undoubtedly sarcastic, but he had stopped listening. He let her go up the staircase's second leg on her own, for the most part. As she resumed what could only be assumed was her customary library-gait he watched her. There was something else in her walk he couldn't recognize, it was a new bounce or rotation in her step.

He continued to watch her past the same malformed sentinels and down the glass hallway. He had always found comfort in the swinging of her hair, but now it was the furthest thing from his mind. He glanced uncomfortably at the glass walls, looking outside, with an unwelcome longing to break through them and then watch the pieces fall on the mossy cement below.

They waited to use the self-checkout machine. This was always his favorite part, and it put his anxieties to rest for a moment. How did the machine know which books they were? Logically he was sure there was a pretty easily established answer but he didn't want it, and he let the girl know.

As she pressed her fingers against the tacky screen of the computer he quickly kissed her ear, wanting to let a little of how he felt out now before he fell back into the slump the library had put him in. She appeared to ignore him, despite a hint of red on her cheek that hadn't been there before.

He started to smile at the effect his kiss had on her, but it was extinguished by a burst of cool air let in by some arriving children. He kissed her again, this time on the hand. No response this time, but there was a new swelling in his chest.

"I like your library, very homey."

"Yessir, I love it. I've spent a lot of time in that library. As a kid I remember sitting by those windows and reading all day after school. It's one of those places that I either own or belong to."
"So that's a landmark on the tour of your childhood life?"

"You bet."


It was different the second visit. He walked into the library charged with confidence, hoping to fight the wave of insecurity he anticipated after his visit a few months ago. But the sliding doors instead beckoned him inside, as though hoping he'd sit, stay a while and swap the stories they both shared.

© 2015 Glenn Scott

Author's Note

Glenn Scott
Semi unfinished toward end

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Added on November 27, 2015
Last Updated on November 27, 2015
Tags: her, library, glenn, scott, short, story, strange, unfinished, memory, memories, uncomfortable, love