A Story by Kate

A girl finds herself lost.


It’s so quiet in here. I shuffle past the front desk and settle behind a man bent intently over a book. I glance over his shoulder furtively, then sigh in disappointment. This book is full of letters, like most of those in this enormous building, stacked high with thick volumes and monotonous novels. I always wondered how grown-ups could stand them.  But beside him is a picture book, a story told with beautiful colors and eye-catching sights, instead of black scribbles. I bend over intently, fingers tracing the edges of this book delicately, then moving to turn the page. Instead, my hand glides right through, the crescent scar stretched across my knuckles grinning at me as it disappears into the table.

                It’s always been like this. How could I have forgotten?

                I watch the man as he turns the page to his own book. Could I ever do that? Had I ever done that? These things all seem familiar, from the cartoon trains playing across the page of this picture book to the smiling caterpillar rug strewn across the ground beneath my feet. I can imagine how soft it is; can feel its gentle strands weaving through my fingers. I lie down and pretend I can sleep. I find I am trying to create comfort in something that does not really exist.

                The man with the book stands up; I can hear his novel slap shut, and manage to c**k one eye open in time to watch him scoop up the children’s book. He doesn’t see me, sprawled across the ground, doesn’t notice when he steps on my hand. Where there should be something, I feel nothing. I guess this makes sense. No one notices those incapable of feeling.

                I stand and follow the man as he approaches the librarian behind the front desk. I roll back on my heels, then leap to my toes, struggling to see over the counter. The man reaches into his back pocket, arm passing through my shoulder. I shiver as he opens his wallet and hands the librarian a laminated card. Suddenly, his wallet is on the floor.

                “Oh, I’m sorry,” the old woman clucks, rising from her chair to waddle around the desk. My mouth forms around a silent giggle. She reminds me of Smee from Peter Pan, a movie, now that I think about it, I don’t remember seeing.

                I crouch down to look at the man’s wallet as he douses the woman with reassurances. A couple of pennies are scattered on the ground, and a few dollar bills stick out of the wallet’s numerous folds. A piece of paper is beneath my feet, blank except for a hastily scribbled name. ‘Marty’. This word is familiar, comforting. I am overcome with an urge to flip this paper over, sure something is on the other side. My fingers grasp at the edges of the paper, scar rippling beneath the fluorescent library lights, but I come up clutching thin air.

                When rough hands reach over and flip the paper, I am startled. The man pauses for a moment, staring at the paper before placing it gently on the counter. I struggle to my feet and find the paper has transformed, grown colorful and full. I know this gap-toothed girl, the one who is peeking from behind her hands through the spaces in her fingers.

                “Is she yours?” The librarian asks, settled once more in her chair.

                “Yes.” The man speaks curtly, as if the conversation has finished before it’s even begun.

                “Isn’t she adorable? What is she, six?”

                “She was seven.”

                The librarian pauses, then squints at the photo. “What happened to her hand?”

                “A dog bit her, once.”

                For the first time, I notice the scar on the back of this girl’s hand. It is shaped like a half-eaten cookie, or maybe a half moon.

                “That’s a shame. Maybe I know her? I sometimes volunteer at the elementary school.”

                The man looks at her for a moment. “I don’t think you would. She died last year.” He hesitates. “This picture book is for her.”

                The librarian shifts uneasily in her chair. “I’m sure she’ll enjoy it.”

                “It was always her favorite.”

                When the man gathers his books and hurries from the library, he leaves a pregnant silence in his wake. I look at my own hand, and find that silver grin staring back at me.

                The librarian shakes her head sadly. “Poor child,” she murmurs.

                Yes. Poor child.

© 2010 Kate

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Wow, that was beautifully written.

Posted 6 Years Ago

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Added on January 21, 2010
Last Updated on January 21, 2010
Tags: death, hope, love, ghost, girl



Norwalk, CT

Just a 16 year old girl writing in my spare time. more..

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