The Libary – An Erotic Short Story 2
“Sorry, yes. Give my love to Aunty Barb.” Bicycle guy was gone. He’d unchained his bike and ridden away from me and my Panini.
I said goodbye to mum and hung up, then took her book out of my bag and headed for the library as I’d promised. It was in the shopping centre, and I needed to consciously stop myself from getting sidetracked by several shops that were enticing me in. Shoes were calling me, but I was strong.
It was a while since I’d been in the library. The last time I came was with mum. We’d been in town together, and she wanted to get a new book.
“You should join,” she said as we stood waiting to check out her books. “Reading’s good for you, and it’s cheaper to borrow than to buy.”
“I don’t get time to read,” I said. That wasn’t really true. I did have time to read if I gave up a bit of television, or even read a chapter in bed each night. I could also read on the train to and from work, instead of staring out of the window or playing with my phone. Anything to take my mind of the monotony of my day job.
“Everyone has time to read,” she said. She sounded cross. Or perhaps just disappointed. Either way she wasn’t impressed. She did that thing she always did when she was upset. It was like she was chewing something. Her jaw moved up and down but her mouth remained closed. You’re mother’s chewing the cud again, dad always used to say, which meant keep out of her way or rue the day.
“You’re annoyed with me.” I touched her arm, trying to placate her. It always calmed her down when I did that, and I felt her relax, saw her shoulders loosen and her tightened jaw unclench.
“I just don’t understand why you young people don’t read more? What’s so important you can’t spare even half an hour a day to read? It stops you going doolally.” She whispered the last bit, looking around to make sure no-one could hear her.
“I’m not going to go doolally.” I laughed, but she wasn’t joking.
“It’s not funny. It’s a well known fact people who don’t read are more prone to going senile. Look at your Uncle Alf.” Uncle Alf had suffered from early onset dementia, and mum always blamed it on whatever her latest bee in the bonnet happened to be. Last week it had been curly kale; I’d been over for dinner and asked not to have any.
“Is that even true?” I hadn’t heard anything about it, though in fairness to mum it kind of made sense. Reading was a mental work out of sorts, maybe not like doing a crossword or Sudoku, but it made you think, made you use your mind, and it had to help in some way I supposed. It was more believable than a diet lacking in curly kale at any rate.
She didn’t answer. She’d said her piece; now it was time for me to reflect upon her words of wisdom.
“I suppose I could join,” I said, looking down at my shoes and twisting one of them on the ball of my foot like I was five years old. I knew resistance was futile.
So I did join. That day. Mum stood with me as proud as anything as I filled in a quick form and got my library card. It had a picture of a red squirrel on it. I had no idea why, and still don’t even now. Maybe storing information, like squirrels store nuts? Or maybe they thought I was five years old too?
Anyway, the thing was I’d had the library card in my purse ever since, and never used it. It just sat there, surrounded by train tickets and mini statements from the atm.
“Can I help you?” said a voice. I realised I was standing in the library, daydreaming. I focused and handed the book to a young girl in a beige jumper and thick bottle bottom glasses, who was staring at me from behind the counter. Her huge lenses made her eyes look enormous and it made me jump slightly. She took the book, looking at me for a clue as to whether it was coming or going.
“Sorry,” I said. “It’s a return. For my mum.” I felt silly adding that last bit. What did she care who it was from? The library probably didn’t care if it was from some tramp or the Queen, as long as they got the book back.
The girl swiped the book under a barcode reader and popped it on a pile to her left.
“Was there anything else?” she said.
“No, that’s it.” I said. I fought the urge to ask her why her glasses were so big.
I headed for the door, thinking I should call mum to put her mind at rest, when I stopped. I turned around and looked back into the library. There were actually quite a lot of people in the place, and not just old people. Maybe I ought to have a look? Maybe I should find out what all the fuss was about? Choose a book, have a read, make mum proud. I hesitated, but decided against it. Who was I trying to kid? I wasn’t a reader. Sorry mum.
I was half way out the door when someone coming in caught my eye. It was a man. He was maybe a few years older than me? He was quite well dressed, and there was something about him that made me stop dead in my tracks. He wasn’t drop dead gorgeous, but he was incredibly charismatic. The doors to the library jarred, clattering as they tried to close but were jolted open again when the sensor registered me standing still in the doorway.
I walked back into the library, letting the doors close behind me.
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