It was a quiet Sunday, just silent for Mr Brooks to bask in the stillness of the cozy library that his old pop’s pop has built with his calloused hands. The moment he put a stake in the undisturbed dirt was him upstarting a generation.
Behind the lacquered oak library reception desk, attended by no living soul or any, the quaint room that laid beyond it, was pure self imposed chaos.
In his destructive haven, perched on his rustic chair, weary legs on top of his desk scattered with towers of books and half opened cardboard boxes, laid the soundly sleeping Mr Brooks, the owner, receptionist, clerk, caretaker, maintenance and every role stuffed into the smooth running of a well respected library.
The opaque windows on the back of the messy room , golden rays peering through it as it shined down on his dark but greying hair, neatly trimmed and short by his local barber, squared rickety glasses accidentally left on the top of his forehead, littered up with wrinkly curves and dark freckles.
Happiness he had plastered on his sleeping face, dreaming of past memories, with such tenderness and delicateness that it couldn't be replicated in any other times, even the novels he ordered and snatched himself and wouldn't requlish to the public until he finished it first.
No romantic literary captured it, whenever by Shakespeare or Austen, can replicate the perfect memory of him and his fiancé swooning under the illuminated moonlight on the verdant soft grass, observed by fellow patrons and guests, awed by their elegant dance, brimming with uncontrollable passion that was ready to burst out, ready to kiss.
DING DING DING DING
Except that it didn't really ended when the tingling of unbearable racket coursed throughout the library and ultimately to his haven, causing the old man to leap out of his chair, shuddering by the continuous metal clanging mashed repeatedly.
“I heard you the first time!” Mr Brook barked at the single door in front of him, and to the loud visitor who would hopefully cease the noise.
DING DING DING DING.
“Okay! Hold your horse! I’m coming!” He begrudgingly got out of his chair, his calculated steps narrowingly missing about the items scattered about on the pine wood smelled floor as he went straight for the door, particularly for the coat rack.
Fitting into the grey worn out sweater which the rack graciously held for him, his eyes glanced out of its corners and as it did for every day of every year, took a gaze at the two framed covered photos of one, his father adorned in his ordnated uniform, pinned with various medals that would have been recognised if not for the black and grey tone.
And two, him digging into the crooks of her neck like a kitten butting on their wedding day, giggling madly away at his antics.
The curves of his lips arched up, only to be soured yet again by that infernal sound.
DING DING DING DING.
“I get the message!” Brooks shouted, bursting out the door and into the reception part of the libary, ready to tear into the annoy-some dinger at the desk.
“What got you so tight up and your panties in a twi-“ he stopped his blustering of potential insults upon seeing not a adult nor teenager, but rather a child who by the tiny tiptoes of her azure slippers, peaked up and out at Mr Brooks, slightly lamenting at the fact in using crass language, clearing his gravely throat as he approached.
Not that this one kid could hear anyway.
‘Oh Miss Vanessa!’ Mr Brooks’s bony fingers spelt it out, the seemly giant of a man as he towered over the timid child, grasping a trios of thick books in her sleeved lanky arms, long blonde locks spilling from out under her rosy knitted wool hat, and flocked earmuffs warming her ears.
The young kid meekly lifted up the three books in a neat stack to the counter, slight eerie grunts escaping her mouth as she struggled.
‘Ah I see you finished up phantom of the opera and Matilda.’ He signed in hurry as he graciously accepted and plodded back onto the counter.
‘Your mom doing well?’ He put his thumb to his broad chin, fingers stretched out.
The kid glanced around, if she was undergoing a secret mission behind enemy lines.
‘She’s good’ bringing her gloved hand down to her own, and hastily brought out her library card up high.
Mr Brooks grinned as he took it and scanned into the library system, once done and the books safely returned, the old man continued on.
‘How about school Vanessa, you doing well?’ Brooks signed apprehensively, living with the knowledge like the books in his kingdom, that for the past three years and a half, ever since Vanessa hided away in terror library in the far corner in this library, shuddering in fear from her relentless tormentors at school.
Only then when Mr Brooks berated, and kicking them to the curb, did she came crawling from her hiding hole like a scrawling mouse out when the cat had gotten bored of the chase.
‘School is fine, there’s a new teacher who signs with me and teaching me new stuff, and oooh I made a friend named Jill.’ She conversed rapidly, the warmness in her cheeks.
Mr Brooks chuckled and gave her a thumb up. In truth, he felt absolutely useless the first few times she came in here, hiding like always. Talking to her was a blank mask of confusion and sadness, their worlds both completely cut off. It wasn't until that Mr Brooks had ordered a book from the big city, and learned rising dawn to amber dusks, that the bridge was connected.
But no time to reminisce as he was a librarian after all.
‘Anyway I got a new delivery that came in, including Jules Vernes and Tolkien’ He signed, the girl’s snowy face perked up, jumping like a mini joey out of his mother’s pouch for utter joy.
‘Wait.’ Mr Brooks wiggled his hands as he ducked under the counter, scrambling for it.
“Where the hell is it?” Proclaiming out loud as he shuffled through the taped boxes.
As Vanessa beaming with thrills and chills down her body, it quickly warped into shivers as the touches of the freezing winter winds, and snapped into that direction of the winds.
Could it be that mean boy who hounded her like the big bad wolf from Science Class? Could it be that wicked witch of a schoolgirl and her crackling posse who followed her around like flying monkeys? Or just a mob who mercilessly terrorised her just like they did with Frankestin?
WHO COULD IT BE?
“Y’all Brooky Man? I’m here.” As the terrorised girl gazed onto her potential tormentor for the day… oh with his sliver cane swinging about the wooden tiled floors, perhaps his weapon?! His puffed up red jacket which symbolise violence?! Toward her?!
And those glasses? The oval glasses tinted of pure blood? IS SHE GOING TO DIE?!
Vanessa in petrifaction, the fear swarming over her like waves against the cliff rocks. She couldn't shout, she couldn't move, she couldn't do anything as the boy of 14 lurked toward her step by step, not even looking at her.
Finally the boy halted in place, right next to her quavering self of frightfulness as she trembled upward at the boy, still not looking at her.
Was she not worthy of his mere gaze as he prepared to snatch the life out of her?
Then he sharply swirled to the desk and boomed out loud.
“Brooky?! I’m here for my reading lesson!”
A thud and then a groan of pain, Brooks only seethed in agony as he scuffled his aching head from the bump, rising up and being suddenly greeted by two youngsters.
“Mr Jackson?” He questioned curiously and checked his wristwatch. “You’re supposed to come at 1:30, not 11:30?”
The blind kid scrunched up in confusion, biting his lip. “Is it not 1:30?”
“Pretty far from it.”
Nate sighed in contempt, he knew he shouldn't have took on the trust of seemly teenagers judging by their half hearted answer and snickering.
“But nonetheless, you’re here and it's a quiet day, so find a seat and I’ll come looking for you.”
Nate nodded in approval as he walked to his right, suddenly colliding into the still quiet, still terrified girl who crumbled by his push.
“Oh I’m sorry about that! I didn't see you there! Or sense I guess… really sorry.” As he was in the dark, waving about his free hand for something to hold on steady like the desk, but rather Vanessa’s shoulder as he was clasped by his.
“That would be Vanessa, before you, there was her.” Brook nonchalantly winks, not warning what to come of this interaction.
“Oh nice, I’m Nathan, please to meet you.” He cheerily introduced himself, and stretching out his free hand up for grabs.
It was still lingering about when he pushed once more… “Oh I should ask your name, what’s your?” He chided himself.
Vanessa couldn't process this, what was this strange boy doing?
“Nate, just move around and find a spot.” Brooks ordered him.
“But I want to know-“
“Oh just do it!” Brooks roared, ironically the loudest one in the library.
Vanessa in bizarre wonder as the boy shrugged, his hands up and mockily surrendering to his officer.
She studied Mr Brook’s burning face, pinching his nose as he switched back gears.
‘Sorry’ rolling his fist on his chest and a various of finger movment. ‘Been teaching him for a while since he was a little boy, father smacked the sight out of him when he was seven, been coming here even since.’
‘You’re a teacher?’ Astounded as if she was propping a hat up and down.
‘I’m a librarian, I read, I learn, just like you, Brooks shrugged as he finally handed Vanessa the two desired novels she waited months for.
Eagerly grabbing it, Most girls’s presents would be dolls or puppies, but for her, it was the ability to be transported in whole new worlds, where she didn't have to hear anything, just to imagine the canvases that authors painted with wild bright colours.
She thanked him and hurried off, Mr Brooks observing her running for the door before flagging in her momentum.
Vanessa swirled around and asked.
‘What’s his name?’
Mr Brooks softly smiled and gave it.
Vanessa nodded and left promptly, leaving the chuckling Brooks to be in awe.
“Bloody Ahab, I’ll call it a day if I was him, Brooks.” As he lightly tossed away the brailed book ordered specifying for him, and sinking into the old bean bag alongside with Mr Brooks, squinting his eyes as he checked his wrist watch, coming up to 2:00.
“So what the messages behind Moby Dick?” Brooks interrogated.
“Vengeance, nature, free will, and shit.” He exasperatedly blurbed out.
Brooks slowly clapped, absolutely impressed. “Wow… that is a great answer… they going to accept that in that test?”
“They’ve to… I’m blind, I can read, I can write, thanks to you old man.” Nate said as he patted comfortably the old man’s shoulder.
“The fact that you’re blind, put a lot of pressure on you. Most don't expect you to do well for yourself.”
“Well I will do my best to disappoint them.” Nate smirked before snuggling into the sinking beanbag. Brooks yawned obnoxiously and began to doze off, and might have come back to his dreams, if not for one question.
“You never told me that girl’s name.” He opened up the topic.
Brooks’s eyes snapped open and sat straight up.
“No as you can’t.”
“Because I said so!”
“Ahh you using that dad excuse,” Nate cheekily flashed a toothy grin before reverting to a concerned frown, pausing for a few seconds.
“She ain’t ugly isn’t she?” He asked seriously.
“Boy! You are no Prince Charming yourself!” Brook’s glare could cut through the hardest diamond, and through Nate if a divine miracle was visited upon him and granted the ability to see.
“Well Fairy Godmother won't give me as much as a crumb here.” Nate aggressively accused
“Because she’s deaf.” In perhaps the most stupidest moment of his fifty years of age, he had never made the most severe mistake in his entire life.
Nate snapped back up, gazing in the direction of Brooks, although his glasses was covering his eyes. Brooks could feel the burning realisation just like that girl, was a kindred spirit, although on different spectrums of the universe, was travelling the road together.
They saw and heard the world in different ways that both each other can never fathom, it would be a laughable and redundant way to understand each other way, but it wasn't no excuse for Nate, just like his blindness couldn't stopped him.
“Deaf huh? That make it a challenge.” He murmured, behind his glasses, a idea sparkled in his eyes.
“Oh I know that look.. you don't see it but I do.” Brooks groaned.
“Me not seeing didn't stopped me from reading?”
“I mean…”He pauses, studying him “She talks… but not very confidently.”
“Well, I suppose I’ll have to read up on that sort of stuff.. school’s out after tomorrow, see you at 4:00?” He risen up, stretching his flabby legs, cane in hand and waddling about for the exit out of this maze of a library.
“Because I have books on sign language for deaf people in Braille, oh wait I don’t!” Brooks sarcastically growled out, but for a blind bat, disappeared like the winds.
Brooks slouched back into the comfy beanbag, flabbergasted at this new chapter. A Librarian wasn't expected to be well versed in Signs or Braille, and he was pushing the limits already to teaching the opposites like if birds prancing on the earth’s ground firmly.
But who he was to deny the future generation expanding their horizons and boundaries, to break through the threshold, upheld by any limitations.
Three weeks later.
The library in the school holidays was barren like water in the deserts, few dropped in and forth the front door, While most girls would be off doing their shopping at the malls or boys taking the piss out of each other, Vanessa and Nate would be the sole residents of this library, in one place, but never crossing paths together.
“Oh shit! That hurt!” Nate cursed loudly, overestimating himself to go without his cane as he drove head first into a bookcase, hand rummaging for any support between the two wall of lined books between him.
His white world spinning and being out of control, a hand held his shoulder firmly in place, freezing him on the spot.
He didn't like to be touched, but something felt pleasant about this.
“Sorry about that!” Nate played it off as he grasped warmly onto this stranger’s support, “I practically live here.”
No answer came.
“I’m Nate.” He felt his face into a grin like that weird Cheshire cat he read in Lewis Caroll.
And this Alice or rather Vanessa could be only dumbstruck by his toothy smile as she meekly stared at the boy who he was avoiding for the past three weeks. The silence stayed stiff between them, Nate taking this into consideration, let go of her hand, stepped back, and breathed.
‘I start again.’ although he couldn't see it, he could feel the air whizzing at his fingers as he signed.
‘My name is Nathan, I’m blind in case you haven't noticed.’ He chuckled but got back on track. ‘Judging our one sided conversation, you must be that girl I bumped into three weeks prior.’
A soft gasp came out of Vanessa’s mouth.
‘I felt real bad about that, so I been learning sign and tactile language from Mr Brooks to apologise to you properly…so very sorry.’ He signed meekly.
Vanessa’s heart was engulfed with warmth. One arm carolling a book of tactile sign and the other interlocking her hand into his own, making soft movement on his palms.
‘Me too.’ Ripple of connections coursed through their locked hands, sharing a smile together.
‘What’s your name?” Nate asked embarrassedly.
A soft giggle escaped the quiet’s girl’s voice. Beaming with pride, she stood tall and mustering all her might she said.
“The Hopplesoctch rabbit bounced from mushroom to mushroom, hopping after the Sun birdie with its long wings, streamed furiously and-“
“Mr Jackson, you going too fast! Slow down!” A whiny voice cried out in front of him.
Like books, imagination was used to fill in the blanks of the world, right now he could imagine dozens of children on the carpet floor, trying to keep up, erratically flipping pages, both written and brailed, some focusing on a sight behind them, intently watching.
“Really?! You hopplesotchs are too slow for a tortoise like me.” Nate guffawed as he heard the collective groans, slinking back into his arm chair.
Suddenly a familiar presence latched on his lap, its hands clasping into his own.
She signed, ‘Don't try to show off, you’ll hurt their self esteem.’
Nate hopefully gazed upward in its direction, smiling at his unseen angel for over twenty years.
“But if I didn't show off… never would have married you.” He smirked.
The couple leaned in and locked lips, much to the dismay of the children who to them, was world ending.
“EWWWW… THEY'RE BOTH KISSING!!!”
‘Yeah, don't want angry parents coming after us, we’ll finish it later.’ Nate winked roughish.
‘We should get back to it, Brooks will have a heart attack in this library.’ Vanessa signed mischievously, bouncing off his lap, retreating behind him.
They laugh, thinking how far one can help two, and how two can change both worlds and the world beyond them.
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