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The Librarian

George leaned back in his chair and ran a hand over his sensibly cropped curly brown hair. It was the perfect time. The library was utterly quiet, still, apart from the gently drifting dust motes sparking in the morning sun shining through the high windows of the atrium. The books, the old oak shelves, the enormous semi-circular reception desk, were his and his alone.

He stood, gathered the books he had finished logging, and carried them across the scuffed parquet flooring to the waiting trolley at the entrance at one of the three wings, stooping to arrange them on the top rack. He was a tall man, six feet and three inches from the soles of his bony feet to the topmost curl on his head. The muscle and bulk of his university years had melted away with the stress and drudgery of caring for his ailing mother. His face now bore the marks of a man who has experienced life and, as a result, held a fascinating attraction for a certain type of woman.

His new leaner frame no longer filled the dark grey workday suit he favoured, though he still wore it, comfortable with every seam, every stitch. His costume of white fully buttoned shirt was usually accompanied by a bright tie, his one concession to frivolity. Today he had chosen a Simpsons number, not because he was in any way a fan of the show, but because he believed it made him more approachable to the younger library users, who often seemed intimidated by his stature.

He paused, breathing in the scent of books old and new, aged oak, the faint hint of stamping ink, allowing it to flood his senses, soothing him. This building was an old friend, escape and saviour in one glorious package. He always wrestled with a terrible guilt when he unlocked the heavy timber and plate glass revolving door, allowing the public to trample in with their imitation Ugg boots, clanking jewellery, oversized rip-off designer bags and filthy grasping fingers. It seemed such cruelty to so dear a friend.

He glanced at the large Victorian clock on the high wall of the atrium and sighed. The first of his staff would arrive shortly, gossiping about whichever soap opera had killed off whoever last night. Their conversations left him baffled and depressed.

He took a last stroll around the library, checking everything was as it should be, adjusting books so that they all leaned to the left, despairing over the publications whose spine texts faced the wrong way, and finally he returned to the desk.

He stood at its centre, gazing at the carefully ordered pencils and pens, all blue, he would permit no other colour. A light frown creased his forehead fleetingly and he leaned across and straightened the mouse mat, aligning it with the base of the monitor. Perfect. Now it was all perfect. He smiled contentedly, determined to absorb the purity of his world for those last remaining minutes.


© 2012 Kay Lawrence.


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