A stubby, wrinkled woman sits behind the front desk inside the library.

It’s these quiet, rainy nights Olyvia loves the most. Her nose is deep inside one of her favorite novels; at this time of night, with this weather, she expects there will be no patrons coming in anytime soon. She sits at the desk out of obligation, her immersion in the book only interrupted by the occasional emergency vehicle siren wailing by. She didn’t notice the gentle chime of the bell sounding when the front door was opened, nor the figure of a small girl shuffling across the floor into the library. No, what she noticed was the loud yet familiar thumping coming from the nonfiction section, unmistakably the sound of books being thrown off the shelf and hitting the floor. The librarian quickly got to her feet and ran over to inspect the noise.

“Now, now, what is all this you’re doing, dear?” Olyvia says as she comes upon the pile of books surrounding the young girl. “Oh, you’re making quite the ruckus you know. Come now, let’s pick up your mess.”

The woman began lifting books off the floor, sorting them back into their proper places. Olyvia looks over at the girl, just standing there. Watching. She pushes her round glasses up the bridge of her nose to get a better look at her. The girl’s skin is pale as paper, her hair black as the void itself. It's difficult to tell if her clothes were in perfect condition or if they're just too dark to make out any blemishes or stains. For some reason, Olyvia is reminded of the way her cat looks at her when he wants something.

Through the entire interaction, the girl's face never changes, as if incapable of expression. A moment passes, and the girl's attention shifts to the book Olyvia's holding in her hands.

“Oh! Oh, my, did you want to check this one out?” Olyvia asks, feeling the paperback cover with her fingers. A Brief History of Our Town it's called. The contents are a bit superficial for Olyvia's taste, not nearly going into enough detail, but the girl’s stare tells her all she needs to know.

“Very well then, oh, just finish cleaning up here will you? Hand me your library card, oh yes, I will have it checked out for you in no time. No time at all.”

The mysterious girl makes no response to her words, remaining without change in expression or manner. After some more “Oh”s and “Come now”s from the woman in front of her, the girl eventually starts returning the sprawling books on the floor to exactly the place they were before. Afterwards, she follows Olyvia to the front desk but continues her blank stare when again asked to produce her library card.

“Come now, dear, if you don’t have a card, simply say so! Oh, I will get you one, don’t you worry. Here, write down your name for me, will you dear? Yes, that’s it, just hold the pen– you do know how to write, don’t you? My, what are they teaching you in school these days?”

The librarian watches as the girl looks at the objects in front of her, not knowing what to do with them. After toying with them a bit, she presses the pen to the paper, scribbling half-familiar symbols onto it.

“Thank you, thank you, uhm…” Olyvia lifts the paper beneath her nose, adjusting her glasses. “Oh, I’ll figure it out later. Scramble on now, little one, oh, but– but do return in the morning for your card!” she yells to the girl who's now running away, the book held tightly to her chest.

Take me home
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