Coming of Age Friendship Funny

Phones Off...Or Else.

Marching towards Mia and Jane, the town librarian was infuriated. Mr. Novelson generally overreacted regarding 'appropriate behavior' within the walls of his family's building. Silence is the most important rule of several library rules. Occasionally, he did have a point; chaos can be caused by noise. 

One Mid-October afternoon, Mia's phone rang on the loudest setting. The ridiculous ringtone played throughout the small library. Young and old, all visitors became too distracted by the strangely catchy tune to focus. Children laughed and danced; their tutor however, glared at Mia because her phone malfunctioning interfered with the lesson.  

Grabbing the phone out of Mia's hands, Jane tried everything she could think of with no success. The volume button did not work, nor could she turn the phone completely off. The battery was stuck, therefore, the simplest 'remove the battery from the phone' method was out of the question. Numerous failures left the phone in peril. 

“What the H**L have you done, you stupid klutz! Do you know how much my phone cost,” Mia screamed as Jane backed away slowly. Ironically, 'family' drama was refreshing and welcome versus the ringing piece of litter. 

Indeed, Jane was rather clumsy. Her actions could easily be mistaken as accidental. Yet the normally kind and optimistic woman was finally driven insane. Similar disrupting problems occurred at home. Other places throughout Tree Town were also subjected to Mia's poor quality phone. Most people had a sense of humor, laughing Mia's dilemma. However, the Tree Town library was as sacred as a church. Growing from a few small shelves into a technologically advanced brick and mortar location was deemed by residents an inspirational story. 

Rolling her eyes Jane stopped backing away. How stupid was Mia? Calmly staring her down, 

“for once, THIS WASN'T AN ACCIDENT! No, I don't know the exact price of the phone. I do know the price the community has been paying for putting up with you! My primary regret was not doing it sooner!” Smiling slightly, she held Mia's shattered phone in her hand.

“Rest in pieces Mia's dumb-phone. We all die eventually and you lived too long.” The crash of the phone hitting the ground and the crunch of her foot as stomped on the malfunctioning item minutes prior were equally as audible as ringtone. Hanging on for dear life, the ringtone continued playing, albeit, the lyrics of the song were broken up. Screeching nails against the chalkboard would have been a beautifully peaceful tune compared with the 'new' ringtone. 

“Wait... you willingly destroyed my phone? Spending several hours trying to repair my phone, finding your attempts failures, lead you this far? I would have eventually forgiven you if the incident was accidental. YOU should be crushed, not my phone!” 

Reaching the center tables, Mr. Novelson assumed this would be another incidence of explaining 'silence.' He did not anticipate breaking up a fight. Although strong for an elderly man, separating the girls was difficult. Mia may appear slender and weak, the smallest of people can pack a punch if they know the best place. Jane was too smug and unfocused on the fact she was nearly punched in the face. Given they caused more trouble than the rest of Tree Town combined, he was not fond of them; however, he did not want their blood on his floor. The doctor was in another town.  

Receiving a small amount of the potential damage Mia intended for Jane, he considered contacting local authorities. 

“Will you both SHUT UP already! I'm tired of constantly having remind you this is a library. Do they no longer exist wherever the heck you are from or do schools and/or parents simply neglect mentioning them? I bet you have never visited a library in your lives! I am surprised they dare call you ladies... both of you are monsters. Starting a BRAWL anywhere is outrageous! How disgusting!” He was protective of the building and more importantly the community which his family aided throughout generations. 

Rubbing his shoulder, he noticed a small amount of blood showing through his t-shirt. Not exceptionally painful, the sting reminded him of a task he had never done before.

“Girls, hand me your library cards...NOW! You are banned from the library until the youngest of you turns 21.” He delivered his punishment with a look of satisfaction upon his face. They were 19 years old. Jane's birthday was June 27th while Mia's was January 15th. Several years would pass before they could use the library services once more. They were horrified. In hindsight, the girls should have been relieved the authorities were not called; assault, destruction of personal property and general disruption of the public would be their crimes. 

While the argument between the girls and the librarian escalated, Andrea sneaked behind the counter, printing Mia's 20 page assignment without anyone hearing.

“Frankly, if you are both old enough to attend college, you should know about controlling your tempers. I'm not the least bit sorry you need help; perhaps by the time you are 21 you will have mastered 'adult behavior.' GET OUT! NOW, before I alert the authorities.” They ran out, unable to collect their bags. Jane threw the phone into the street, raging as they fled, finally silencing the phone. 

Mr. Novelson grew up using books and spent time writing neatly in cursive for school assignments. Grumbling, “I wish they never added stupid computers.”  

Unlike Jane, Mia needed the library computers for her college assignments. Jane merely wanted public interaction. She should join a club for such interactions Andrea often suggested. She saved Jane's assignment, packed up her bag and would carry all three bags home. Andrea hoped she would leave her 'friends' behind. She was regretting bringing them from Bright City to Lush Island (near Tree Town) as roommates. Gossip flew quickly within the town; her friends would be remembered for this incident regardless of future positive interactions. Seeing them crossing the street, Andrea changed her mind and would attempt helping her friends.

“Mr. Novelson, I wish to apologize for my friends. You are quite right; they deserve punishment. However, would you please reconsider? Perhaps something more useful? They can sit at home and use the computer, banning them isn't a punishment.” 

Andrea's words were sincere and hopefully convincing. As a child, middle-aged Mr. Novelson let her get away with most 'library crimes.' He must of thought she was a cute little girl, at the time a red-head with green eyes, who should not be held responsible given her age.  

Andrea had great difficulty with synchronizing her voice/words and facial expressions of emotion together, a programming flaw. Why she was programmed with many enhancements, such as superior hearing, yet not emotional expression confused her for decades. Once her time was ending in a certain location, she could alter her appearance at will and move.

Blonde, blue-eyed Andrea could not acknowledge their previous relationship or take advantage of her charming appearance. She was dealing with an elderly man who had no reason to assume he was speaking with the little girl from decades ago. Would he let a broken rule go unpunished if he knew the 'old Andrea' broke it Andrea contemplated.  

Almost dismissing her from the library for the day, he was shocked by Andrea's generosity. Well versed in basic first aid, the two sat in the back of the library while she mended his arm. Her late father, a geneticist taught Andrea and her mother basic first aid protocol. She was grateful she paid attention because she provided others with aid on multiple occasions.  

“Are you feeling better sir? Is there anything else I can do for you? Pardon me for saying, however, you should consider refilling your first aid kit,” Andrea politely commented.

Shaking his head, Mr. Novelson thanked Andrea for her kindness. His arm was as good as new. As she treated his minor injuries, she listened and sympathized as he rambled on about the evils of technology, 'the good 'ole days'/ 'in my day etc' among other complaints the elderly have against the younger generations. They washed over her and was grateful she could not express visual emotions clearly. Crying tears of boredom would have been insulting and unhelpful. 

Too exhausted to stand he paused asking,

“Would you please grab the red notebook from the front desk for me?”

“Of course sir, excuse me for a moment.” Andrea initially thought nothing of the book, until she found a rather intriguing section. Clearly old, the notebook resembled a book instead of a spiral notebook. She feared the notebook would fall apart in her hands. The binding was peeling off, parts of the red were faded and the thick amount of paper, filled with lots of cursive handwriting and people's names included her own.

Several pages listed her name, her various transgressions and then a crossing out of the line, indicating the punishment was finished or canceled. Andrea was fortunate. Briefly scanning the years of her Lush Island childhood, she broke the most rules. However, the majority were left unpunished. Bringing her back from the past, Mr. Novelson shouted the notebook was on the front desk.

Lying, she claimed to not see the notebook the first time. She noticed the names of her friends and their library cards while handing the notebook to Mr. Novelson. A whole page for each girl had been devoted purely to the day's transgressions. Andrea also saw Mr. Novelson holding a red pen in his hand.

Sitting with the notebook on his lap, he paused again. The day took more out of him than he believed. Unfortunately, he beheld an extremely long line was increasing quickly as rushed over. He and Andrea were not alone in the library he should have realized. Kindly, Andrea offered her help, asking him if he had a second employee. Concerned about him, nevertheless, she was relieved he did not need her assistance. Andrea had no interest in such an occupation, although she held great respect for librarians. 

Exhausted, nearly passing out, Andrea drove him home. His left-handed complement regarding how kind she was and wished Andrea could influence her friends was the primary conflict she had with him. Lying, claiming the detour would not inconvenience her was being polite. Realistically, nightfall would occur before she could walk all the way back. If she could use her super speed enhancement without being noticed, only a few minutes would pass. Blending in with the crowd was more important. Causing a riot because they saw a 'robot' flying through the streets and possibly being taken for other scientist's experiments was one of the reasons she was taught standing out was not always wise.  

Having shown him kindness when he had not considered her friends, almost 'sisters,' he took the notebook and matching red pen out. More importantly, he ripped the two pages regarding her friends out.

“I suppose I could alter their punishment...no reasonable person would provide them with complete leniency? The girls are not banned for years, I'll swallow my pride and consider my minor injury a factor of being too harsh. However, they are banned from being in the library at the same time indefinitely. Furthermore, each girl is going volunteer until New Year's day. Hopefully I will find additional employees. If they are too stupid, let me make one point quite clear; all the time they will have for recreational library use will be 30 minutes of their lunch break. If one girl is working, the other can not be present. Any additional library use will need to be from another location.”

Taking their library cards back home, Andrea was uncertain whether her friends would hate her. Mia would suffer most; too late to withdraw from her classes and too poor to purchase a computer or laptop, she would probably fail her classes. At least only one semester versus dropping out. Thirty minutes for all six online classes she was enrolled in would be insufficient. Conversely, Jane owned her own laptop and spent most of her time goofing off instead of studying. Andrea, decided both girls needed punishment which would not destroy their lives. 

Fear of the librarian was nothing compared with the fear of and for their friend. Andrea missed dinner and spent far too much time alone at night, a particularly risky habit for women and children. She did not call/text or respond. Whether she was plotting an evil scheme or dead they did not know until 11:00PM. 

Irritated by the amount of time she took returning home, all three sat and sighed. Eventually, Andrea stood up while she explained the situation and new punishment. Jane thanked Andrea for her help while Mia wanted to punch her. Each member of the trio was shocked Mr. Novelson changed his mind. Unfortunately, her friends realized Andrea was not a saint. 

“By the way Jane, your laptop is now Mia's while you are volunteering. All you do is goof off, while at least she tries and a 30 minute total each day is impossible. You can buy yourself a brand new laptop. You took and destroyed her most valuable piece of technology, therefore, you owe her something in return. I suggest you use the weekend for loading all your information onto a flash-drive; you will be at Mia's mercy if you want anything kept there for the rest of the semester.” Andrea was once again pleased she had difficulty visually showing emotions. The look of horror on Jane's face and sheer delight of Mia's face amused her. Perhaps spending too much time with the librarian caused her brief period of sadism. Scolding Mia, Andrea continued,

“Regarding phones, where do I begin? Mia, there is no point in denying your 'smartphone' would be more accurately described as 'dumb-phone.' The technology was out of date and actual buttons etc were destroyed. I'm surprised any part of the phone worked. Furthermore, I'm uncertain regarding which was worse; learning a telemarketer's call caused the disruption or your ringtone?” 

“Seriously, you're using a Mary Poppins song ringtone? Why? I can't believe after all these years I didn't know until now Mary Poppins was your favorite musical."

Performing' a stupid dance as she sang, Andrea hoped to lighten the mood.

“Mary Poppins wasn't joking... 'even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious, if you say it loud enough...' you will always be removed from a library... 'supercalafragalisticexpialadoshus!' Putting her jazz hands down she asked “What do you think?” Surprisingly, they laughed. Finished with the light mocking, 

“I have a phone from last year which works decently. Fortunately, your ringtone must come from a list provided. I bought a new one earlier this year, intending upon donating the 'old phone.' Well, I'm donating the 'old phone' to you. Please take care of your new phone, I don't have another replacement.” 

The old phone was slightly beat up, the screen protector was broken although the phone's touch screen was not cracked. Numbers were partially worn off from dialing/texting and old texts and photos needed deleting. Several hours would be spent updating apps. Otherwise, Mia's new phone was superior compared with her dearly departed phone. Wow, Andrea had a heart Mia thought. 

Standing before each girl, somberly she addressed the pair. 

“Jane, Mr. Novelson and I watched the news report regarding a car crash this evening. A tire was cut by the glass and other pieces of a broken phone on the road... near the library. Probably Mia's dead phone. Think before you act; your overreaction nearly took a life. Although he lived, the victim's car needs drastic repairs. Mia should not have tried punching you, all she did was hurt someone else too. I'm certain you both are unhappy with me and Mr. Novelson. I suggest you turn your phones off completely while in the library. Keep them on vibrate here. You'd be surprised how much noise vibrating can create.” She nodded her head at each, bidding them both goodnight before leaving the room. 

Shocked by Andrea's swift personality changes, the recent punishment changes made and guilt convinced the girls to comply. Once the terms and conditions of the punishments were established, Andrea left her sadistic personality behind for one of 'guided' friendship. 

Learning time management balance between 'jobs' and schoolwork while Andrea quickly completed her online work in front of them, slightly smirking, was annoying. Monitoring their phones when she was present was humiliating; they were 19 not 9 years old! Keeping them beside her until she left was unnecessary. 

Andrea irritated them, almost as much as the ungrateful library visitors. Using primitive technology for long, hurried lines and others shouting obscenities while getting unpunished upset them. Technical difficulties among other problems not their fault, the girls were blamed for. Staying late for cleaning was awful. They smelled of sanitizer for months. Sucking late/lost and/or destroyed book fees was such a difficult task only Mr. Novelson could accomplish the feat.  

Mr. Novelson hired new, competent and engaged employees, sooner than expected, shortening Mia and Jane's 'sentences' by a month. Their departure delighted all of them. The trio's New Year's resolution was not to fight with each other. If they could follow through, they did not know just yet.  

April 27, 2021 23:29

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