When Erika Simons stepped into her job at the library nestled in her small town, an idea sparked in her mind like the flicker of an old, forgotten tale. As a child, her grandmother's captivating stories had woven a tapestry of girls infatuated with princes far beyond their social status. These stories, though timeless, held an air of whimsical impossibility. The notion that nothing these girls did could capture the prince's attention, until the moment they chanced upon a hidden love spell, was a recurring theme. These spells always lay concealed within the pages of ancient books, an element that Erika couldn't help but find a tad cliché. Yet, she couldn't deny the appeal that the idea had. The incantation, whispered with both desperation and hope, seemed to kindle a transformative magic. The prince, through forces arcane and dumfounding, would become enamored with the girl. He would defy his predetermined fate, forsaking the princess destined by his lineage, and escape with the humble girl. It was a tale that had transcended generations, echoing in Erika's heart as she stood among the shelves of the library, wondering if there was a hint of truth in these age-old legends.
Since Erika was early to work, she had a couple hours till the library was scheduled to open its doors. There was something that calmed her about the quiet time before her shift. Once the customers started rummaging through the shelves and began asking questions, there would be no peace for her. That was why she always made an effort to come in extra early, in an attempt to prolong the solitude her book provided her. Ever since she was capable of flipping a page, Erika was enthralled with reading. Opening a book and being drawn into the fantastical worlds crafted by the authors helped her escape her mundane chores and duties for a while. Then, a thought popped into her head.
Maybe I should give Tyler a call?
Tyler had been Erika’s best friend ever since second grade. They shared everything and she cherished his friendship. Pulling her phone out of her back pocket, she opened it and pressed the image of Tyler’s face.
Brrr..Brrr………….. Brrr..Brrr………….. Brrr..Brrr…………..
“Hello?” A sleepy voice answered from the other side, and Erika felt a pang of guilt for having woken Tyler up.
“Hey… Did I wake you?” Erika started to nervously play with a strand of her hair and she absentmindedly tapped the edge of the desk she stood behind.
“Oh yeah… well you did wake me, but it’s fine. What’s going on?”
Now she felt like she shouldn’t have called her best friend and wanted to say it was nothing. Tyler must have realized what Erika had been thinking because he spoke up again before Erika could answer.
“No seriously, it’s fine. I needed to get up anyway. Now, will you tell me what’s up?
“I was just wondering if you wanted to come over to the library and help me look for a book?” The line was quiet for a moment and Erika thought she heard him yawn.
“Sure, I’ll see you soon.” Tyler's response finally came, and Erika couldn't contain her excitement, letting out a small, joyful cheer.
“You’re the best! Bye!” She didn’t wait for him to reply, instead she hung up and began to get the library ready. Excitement coursed through her body as she did all the necessary tasks.
Once she had finished everything, she needed to do to get the library ready, she began to search the shelves for a long-forgotten book. Erika remembered when she first started, that the library had a huge selection of old book and that had drawn her to the job. Ancient texts were so fascinating, giving a glimpse into another time. Now, however, she was looking for something specific – a love spell.
She searched row after row of books, carefully checking each one. After some time, she heard the door open and was startled by the sudden noise. Bing-bong.
Nobody should enter the library right now, we’re still closed.
“Hello?” Erika called out, her voice sounding meeker than she meant to.
“Hellooo, it’s Tyler… Where are you?” She could hear him walking throughout the library, in an attempt to find her. While their town was small, the library was not.
“I’m in the ancient book section.”
“You guys have an ancient book section?”
After a few moments, she saw him enter the correct aisle. She saw his face light up and a smile grew on his face. She had to admit, it felt good to see him too.
“Hey Tyler. So, don’t laugh but I’m trying to find a love spell.” She paused for a second to gauge his reaction and once she saw that he wasn’t going to laugh at her, she continued.
“I was hoping to recite it and get Brad to finally see me…” She looked down at the ground, then back up to meet Tyler’s eyes. It was hard for her to read what emotions he was feeling in that moment. Erika thought she saw sadness on his face, but it might be something more than that. Before she had time to wonder about it, he spoke up.
“Okay, what do you need me to do?”
“Maybe you could help me find a book with ancient spells?”
There was a moment of silence, and something felt awkward. She wasn’t sure why; Tyler already knew that she had a crush on Brad. In fact, they had long conversation about it, in which he let her go on in length about all the reasons why she liked him. Yet, she couldn’t shake the feeling that when she brought it up this time, something was off.
“Sure, I’ll help you.”
Erika was relieved by Tyler’s response and relaxed as the atmosphere began to shift back to normal. She told him what he could do to help, and they began to task. As they searched the shelves together, she realized that they were working their way toward each other. She thought nothing of it, then they bumped into each other. It was a gentle collision but when their skin touched, she felt butterflies fill her stomach. Her skin became flushed and she could hear her heart start to quicken. Erika had no idea why she felt this way, Tyler was only a friend after all – her best friend. She turned her face away and tried to pretend that nothing had happened. After all, she was trying to find a love spell for Brad, and she needed to focus. Checking her watch, she realized that the library was scheduled to be opening soon.
“Sorry, I have to go get the library ready for customers. I really appreciate your help though.”
“Uhm, okay. I’ll be here.”
She quickly got up and hurried off toward her desk. Not without first looking back at the bewildered Tyler and noticing that his face was in fact flush too.
I wonder why his face is so red all of a sudden? It’s not possible that he is interested in being more than friends…
As she got to her desk, she shook her head and tried to clear her mind. The thoughts and emotions running through her were too much for her. Bing-bong. When she heard the sound of the bell, she had never been so happy to see a customer. For the rest of her shift, she would help customers find what they were looking for, and occasionally go over to Tyler to check on how he was doing.
The time seemed to fly by and before she knew it, it was time to close the library. So, she walked over to the door and grabbed the sign that said, “Come in, we’re open.” With a flip, the sign now read “Sorry, we’re closed.” Erika took a deep breath and walked over to Tyler, who was still sitting cross-legged on the floor. The fact that he had spent his entire Saturday at the library helping her find a love spell made her wonder: why did he do it? She reasoned that with his looks and personality that he must be able to find a date. Still, he had spent his whole day helping her. Unable to come up with a satisfactory answer for herself, she decided to ask him. Before she could say anything, however, Tyler saw her approaching and spoke.
“Oh, I didn’t realize that the library was closing already.” He said and stretched before continuing.
“I found several books I think we could try, but I think we should do it soon becau-”
“Why did you stay all day and help me?” Erika said, interrupting Tyler.
“Uhm, I don’t know. You seemed like you really wanted to find this love spell, and so I wanted to help you.”
“But why though? Doesn’t it bother you that it’s for another guy?” She could see him straighten up at her words and he took a moment to gather his thoughts.
“I guess it’s because I just like seeing you happy…”
Silence filled the air, as the weight of Tyler’s words sunk into Erika. They had been friends since the second grade, always involved with each other’s life. She could still remember him as the freckled kid who would come to her house after school and play with her. That same freckle-faced kid was no longer a kid, and neither was she. As she stood in front of Tyler, she took a real look at him. Since they had grown up together, she had never really looked at him in that kind of way. Now, doing so, she wondered if she could see him as more than a friend.
He was tall and muscular for his age. His hair was auburn, and he had light skin, dotted with freckles. His facial features were symmetrical and attractive. Long messy locks of hair would move as he talk, and his ocean blue eyes were something you could get lost in. As Erika continued to look at him, he gave her a slight smile. She realized how much that semi-goofy smile could cheer her up and make her forget her worries. When she looked into his eyes and he gave her that smile, all felt right in her life.
Suddenly, without any more thought, she leaned down and gave him a kiss. It was a quick kiss, and when it was done Erika felt her face go red. Weather it was from suddenly bending over to kiss her long-time best friend, or from embarrassment, she felt faint. She stood up and turned slightly away from Tyler, lightly kicking the ground and looking down. Her mind was racing, and she wondered why he was just sitting there.
I shouldn’t have kissed him. Now he thinks I’m some weirdo. First, I ask him to help me make another guy love me. Then, I kiss him. AHHHHH!
She was so lost in her own thoughts and feelings that she didn’t notice that Tyler had gotten up and was standing beside her. He placed his hand on her, and she startled at his touch. She enjoyed his warm hand on her shoulder, so she stayed still and let him talk first.
“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted for that to happen.” Tyler said. Erika turned to face him and saw that his face was flushed, just like her. Just maintaining eye contact with him make her heart skip a beat, and the butterflies returned to her stomach.
“Well, why didn’t you tell me you felt this way before…”
“I wanted to, but you would always talk about Brad or it just never felt like the right time. Also, I didn’t want to make things weird between us, y’know.” Tyler tried to shrug his shoulders and make it seem like this wasn’t a big deal to him, but Erika knew him better than that. She knew that he genuinely had feelings for her and maybe she had known for a while. Thinking back to it, she had seen the signs that he was interested. Ultimately, the fear of ruining their friendship had always stopped her from saying anything. Now there was no hiding and no turning back.
“Okay, well, I like you too…” Again, she felt her face go red as she anxiously waited for his response. His response never came. Instead, he put his hand on the small of Erika’s back, and put his other hand gently on the back of her neck. Erika didn’t try to stop him. She embraced him in return, and they kissed. It wasn’t the simple peck on the lips that Erika had given Tyler moments earlier. This was a passionate embrace, filled with years of unspoken attractive and hidden feelings.
Afterwards, Erika took a second and looked into Tyler’s eyes. She realized, in that moment, that what she had been looking for in that book was never real. There was never a love spell. That was just a fantasy that she had built for herself. What was real, however, was the feeling she got when she was with Tyler, only now could she see that. They stayed in each other arms for a long while. Until the sound of Tyler’s stomach could be heard rumbling. Erika looked up at him in surprise.
“I guess I’m getting hungry.” Tyler said and gave a nervous chuckle. Erika only giggled at him, thinking it was cute.
“Want to come back to my place? I’ll make you some soup.”
“That would make me the happiest man in this library.”
The two of them laughed at the corny joke. They tidied up the books that were all over the floor and Erika grabbed her purse. Then, hand in hand they walked out of the library together. Erika smiled to herself as they walked to her house.
I guess what I was searching for was right in front of me after all.