The Library

I hear her. A voice floating through the air. It is like butterflies. Or rainbows. Like a shooting star. And then it is gone.

The library is quiet today. A man in his thirties watches cat videos on his iPad. A smile breaks across his face. The light blonde hair is cut short. But has the wavy curls of a toddler. Next to him sits a black bag. Its yellow letters spell out: Evolution Kills. Dinosaurs are shown turning into birds. Then into chickens and dinner. He is wearing a light blue dress shirt. Buttoned up neatly. He has a young face. But an air of being older.

Next to me sits on older man. His dark skin suggests his family came from India. He reads the economist. After putting aside USA Today. The man’s white hair is combed back. It flows straight back from his face. Which is framed by a pair of glasses. Their gold rims shine against his dark skin. He wears a black sweatshirt. Under which is a turquoise shirt. He holds the magazine at the tops of the pages. One side in each hand. Switching the page from one hand to the other.

I haven’t seen the hot librarian. Another balder librarian is here today. He wanders around. Looks out the window as cars rev their engines. Paces like a cat waiting for you to leave the room. The bus stops outside the window, and the blonde man looks. Then goes back to what appears to be Twitter. People still use Twitter.

Just the three of us sit at the table. A man walks by the window in a dark coat. The librarian talks on the phone. He rolls his eyes under his dark rimmed glasses. They sit thick on his face. There is a shine from the lights on his head. He wears a blue plaid pattered dress shirt. LIke a picnic table. Where is the hot librarian?

A young girl uses one of the children’s computers. Where is her mommy? She jams her hand like listening to music. On her head are the giant library headphones. A man browses the staff picks section.

The librarian has gone back to pacing. Now walking away. A young woman in black leggings walks past. And like a moment she is gone.

The man from India puts away the magazine. And gathers a new newspaper. Now he reading the Wall Street Journal. The woman in black leggings walks past again.

The table itself sits in the center of the room. Down the middle are open slots. They could be used to store power outlets. But they are not. At the other table in the corner you can plug in a laptop. It is actually two tables next to each other. At the one I sit with the two men. At the other is a set of four computers. They are used for short-term internet. But also printing and catalog. The young woman is walking past the window outside.

At the library desk the man is replaced. An older woman with short hair takes over. She wears a dark coat and blue jeans. A dark shade of denim. They look new. She is checking out a problem with a computer. Then goes to chatting with an older lady in an orange hat. The librarian fidgets with her fingers. The lady in the hat leans on the desk.

The older man has gone, and the young man has pulled out a Steven King novel. It is a library book. It has the library branded on the side of the pages. He is about a third of the way through the book. The librarian is back and working on the computer. A man in a grey hat browses the new book rack. And the young man puts the book away and goes back to his iPad. It looks like he is on Facebook.

The library windows are full of light today. Outside a gentle breeze blows the tree tops around. A young person is browsing the magazing rack. The young girl and her mother leave together. The blonde man puts away his iPad, pushes in his chair. He puts on a light Oregon State sweat shirt. Then leaves. Another woman has come into the library. She has a young pretty face. After stopping at a catalog computer. She goes hunting for a book. With book in hand she returns and makes her exit.

The library feel empty. But I can hear doors closing. And toilets flushing. “Dad,” a young boy calls his father. His younger brother lags behind. As the other boy rushes ahead. The younger has hands in pockets. He checks things out and walks slow. The older boy exclaims to his dad. “I know this one,” and is excited about other titles. The boy loves books. This much is clear.

Sometimes my wrists get sore from typing. But mostly me right wrist. The one I hit delete with a thousand times a second. Because after all these years I still don’t know how to type. And so I have to stop and fix almost every other word. I wonder at times if I had paid more attention in school. Would I be a better typer now. Or would I have learned by now if I was ever going to learn. Le sigh.

Outside the sun is fading as the day comes to a close. The librarian processes stacks of books. Children share joy with a father in the corner. A work of art on the wall shows a man.

His image is on a yellow background. His hair a multi-coloured pattern. The skin on his face a shade between blue and green. His eyes are orange. All over his shirt and face are what appear to be paint smudges. This is a painting of a painter. Maybe the artist. Maybe it isn’t a man.

The short yellow pencils sit in their dish. Small like golf stubs. Are they for short notes? They must be cheaper, for the many times they are stolen. Sometimes just by forgetful people. Leaning in with the pencils are small papers. Blank on both sides, large enough for a note. They have no lines. Like the empty faces of youth. The library is so quiet today. And it feels calm. The air turns on with a strong hum. The librarian paces around the empty desk. Then slides chairs under the empty table.

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