A Tete-a-Tete With A Librarian

Submitted into Contest #142 in response to: Start your story with someone being given a book recommendation.... view prompt

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Fiction Inspirational Bedtime

A series of hanging lights lit the library. The hall was otherwise silent, except for the occasional tapping of a keyboard or the whirring of a printer. A faint murmur could be heard. "Shhh," said the librarian and the silence was restored.

A young man donning a cap that covered almost half of his face entered the library. He walked to the corner table and saw that it was occupied. With fumes emanating from his nose and ears, he walked to the librarian and demanded, "The corner table is occupied. It's mine. Ask that woman to leave."

The librarian lifted her head that was buried in a book. She adjusted her spectacles and looked at the young man. She smiled leaving him flustered. "Son, this library is open for all The tables here are occupied on a first come first serve basis. Why don't you choose some other table," she suggested.

He stomped his feet and twitched his nose. "Lady, don't give me instructions. I hate change," he clenched his fist as he spoke.

She looked at him for a few seconds and began to walk away without uttering a word.

"You can't leave," he banged the table with his fist. She shushed him and left. After a few minutes, she returned with a book in her hand. "Who Moved My Cheese" read the title.

"Read this book. It will help in changing your mindset," she said. He snorted in disgust.

Ignoring his misdemeanour she continued with whatever she was doing. He walked out of the library. He walked to a narrow alley and lit a cigarette. The smoke he exhaled swirled in the air. He flipped the pages of the book reluctantly. The quote "Life moves on and so should we" made him stop. He drew another puff and reflected on the series of events that had just transpired. The book suggestion made by the librarian coerced him to contemplate his mindset.

Her choice of book was spot on. That was it. She was the person with whom he must talk. He could not go on with the current frame of mind and he knew it. He dropped the cigarette to the ground and crushed it with his foot, leaving a black mark on the ground.

He walked back to the library. He noticed that the librarian was standing on a ladder and was arranging books on the topmost shelf. Tapping on the table continuously, he waited for her. After twenty minutes, she returned. She looked at him and raised her eyebrows into a question mark.

"How can I help you?" She asked.

"I want to have a little chat with you," he replied.

"Regarding?" she asked.

"It's a little private," he said.

"I'm not your counsellor son," she said.

He felt offended but shoving his feelings under the rug he said, "Come on, sparing thirty minutes for a discussion will not kill you. Will it?"

The woman's lips parted into a quick smile but she concealed it with a grim expression.

She looked at her calendar and said, "Twenty minutes is all you have." He agreed. They walked to the coffee machine located in the corner of the library and filled their cups with coffee.

He stood hesitating. "The clock is ticking young man. I don't have all day," she said.

"My mom had left this world when I was a child. After a lot of struggle, I had made peace with the fact. My father married a woman from his office. It was a bolt from the blue for me. I had difficulty adjusting to my stepmom. She was a kind woman but her presence suffocated me. I cribbed and cried to garner my father's attention. He enrolled me in a boarding school. It was the second major change I had to accept within a year. I gradually made friends. All good things come to an end and so did my schooling," he spoke.

She looked at him empathetically. "I attended college and bagged a job with a fat paycheck. I had no personal life. I dedicated my life to the firm. Everything was rosy, until one day, the firm was taken over by another management. I have been on a downhill since then. The change of management didn't go well with me. There was a cut in my paycheck and it wasn't of good taste. Cigarettes and alcohol gave me company. It was when I met a girl in a bar. We indulged in a little chat and one thing led to the other. A series of one nightstands paved the way to a relationship. Her presence in my life became suffocating. I was used to being alone and I didn't like her interference. But I liked her and didn't want to break up. Before I could figure things out she suggested that we must move in together. Another change was unacceptable. It was driving me crazy. I walked to the library in quest of some solace but my table was occupied and I lost it," he concluded.

She couldn't help but smile at him. "So you want me to help you solve your so-called problems, isn't it?" She asked.

"I could use some help," he replied.

"It's all in your mind son. As Heraclitus quoted, Change is the only constant. You must embrace it. Change can be good at times. Focus on the brighter side. Change your perspective. Read the book Who moved my cheese. Spencer Jhonson used cheese, as a metaphor to explain how to deal with unexpected change. It's a fable about four characters who live in a maze and they love cheese. But one day, the cheese disappears. Read the book and find out how they dealt with it and who emerged successfully. Nothing is permanent except change. Learn to adapt lest you will rot in a rabbit hole," she spoke.

The young man appeared to be relaxed. He clasped the book tightly. He nodded and smiled partially.

"Thanks for your time. I will get back to you after a week," he said.

"Don't make this a habit," she said and walked away.

A week passed. The young man walked in and searched for the librarian. She wasn't there. A young lady asked, "May I help you?"

"I'm looking for the librarian," he said.

"I'm the librarian," she said.

"What about the elderly woman who was here the previous week?" He asked.

"Oh, she was here only for a month. I was on a vacation and she was here to fill in for me," she said.

He remembered her words, "Don't make this a habit."

He smiled and thought,' The book and her pearls of wisdom helped. Another change and all I can do is accept.'

He thanked the young girl and walked away. He wasn't adept at accepting change yet. But he was trying. One day at a time.

April 20, 2022 17:08

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2 comments

Aeris Walker
16:57 Apr 28, 2022

I like you ended with the man committing to becoming better, to learning how to be more flexible and accept change, but he’s still not quite there. I think that is a realistic depiction of how people grow—it’s usually slow and sometimes painful, one more step in the right direction at a time.

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Latha Prakash
19:09 Apr 28, 2022

Hi Aeris, thank you for reading my story and giving your valuable feedback. Means a lot to me.

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