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High School Teens & Young Adult Fiction

Mrs. Libro, in many ways, was born to be a librarian.  She was special, she knew everything about every book, even though she never read any of them.  Good Reads was her bible.  She surfed through daily, finding the best of every genre from Christian to classics, comics, even cookbooks.  Mrs. Libro memorized The Great American Read, all 100 of America’s most-loved books.  She was a walking, talking card catalog.

However, Mrs. Libro was not a typical librarian.  She was loud, VERY LOUD, truck driver loud.  Each day her voice would resonate throughout our school library and beyond.  She haunted students who did not return books, hunting them down to track her beloved titles.  Mrs. Libro could be heard from one end of the school to the other.  She could not be ignored, she was a force.

Juan was a chameleon, blending into the background of every class and school assembly.  One of many students at Lincoln High, his ambition was to get through the day unnoticed, unseen.  He wore his black hoody like an invisibility cloak.  Covid had been a gift to Juan, a dream come true, an escape, an excuse to be hidden.  Coming back to school was a shock to his system, but at least he could hide behind his shiesty mask, all but his eyes buried under the black cloth.   Even then, Juan put in his air pods and put down his head to retreat.

Juan was careful to do just enough to get by.  Assignments were something to weigh carefully, doing the minimal amount necessary to pass, but no more, playing the system, following the 50% rule.  He meticulously completed half of his assignments, achieving a 65.  Juan was a master at evading staff and students alike, disconnected, disjointed, isolated.   Sure, a few teachers had tried to connect with him, tried to talk with him, tried to find out what he was about.  Juan shirked away, nodding and avoiding eye contact, grunting responses, even skipping class to get some peace.

His main problem was the cafeteria.  All the noise and chaos, all the students herded together, all the smells of government meat, it was all too much.  Juan needed an escape, he had an idea.  Juan headed to someplace he could find silence, the library.  Little did he know what he was getting himself into.

Gliding down the stairs past the check-out desk, Juan kept his head down avoiding eye contact, making his way to a back table in the far reaches of the library.  Yes, that would be perfect.  He had just slunk into a chair and put his head down when a voice rang out.

“HELLO OVER THERE, NO HOODIES IN THIS LIBRARY, WE FOLLOW THE DRESS CODE IN HERE.  GET WITH IT OR GET OUT!”

Juan lifted his head as a reflex, he was caught in Mrs. Libo’s stare.  She continued, “YEAH, I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION. RIGHT?” He shook his head yes, she did have his full attention.  He dreamed she would just go away.  That did not happen, but she did stop yelling, sort of.

“YOU have heard of the DRESS CODE?  NO Hoodies, NONE.  Yeah, I know they have given up on it out there.”  She waved her hand frantically toward the hallway, rolling her eyes.”In here, there are rules, NO gum, NO eating, NO phones, NO video games.”  She paused for a breath.  “Reading, BOOKS, that is what we have in here!”

Who was this lady? Juan slipped off his hoodie and realized every student was staring at him.  His skin crawled, sweat beaded on his brow, he was about to take off when a book was thrust at him.

“OKAY, try this book, if you don’t like it, I’ll find you another.”

Juan grabbed the book for shelter and hid behind the words.  Afraid to look out at all the eyes on him, he did the only thing that made sense, he read the book of black-out poetry.  Surprisingly, Juan did not hate it.  

More surprisingly, Juan came back the next day.  Mrs. Libro smiled and yelled, “NO HOODIE”.  She handed him another book.  “I noticed you getting into Newspaper Blackout.  Here’s Steal Like an Artist.  Same guy, you might like it. Here, his stuff is on this shelf.”  Mrs. Libro darted across the library, Juan followed.

On Friday, Juan took out two books.    

Juan never went back to the cafeteria.  He became a regular.  Juan continued to be invisible in all his classes, but that just wasn’t possible in the Lincoln Library. 

Mrs. Libro was greeted with a head nod each day.  She left piles of books, demanding to know the quality of each.  Juan answered, what else could he do.  One day Mrs. Libro scolded him when he folded down a page.  Juan smoothed down the page, he apologized in his classic one-word style, “Respect” he said, smiling.   

“RESPECT!” Mrs Libro shouted for all to hear.  “THAT'S RIGHT.  EVERY BOOK IS A TREASURE.   RESPECT”  

Once again, everyone was staring at Juan.  He just laughed and walked away with his books. From that day on, Juan greeted Mrs. Libro with a sparkle in his eye and the word, “Respect”. Right up to the day he graduated.

Years passed, Lincoln Library continued to be a perfect place for misfits, loners, dreamers, really, for anyone willing to read and use bookmarks.  Mrs. Libro continued to banish students in hoodies.   Principal Sweat provided funding just to keep Mrs. Libro out of the main office, she remained quite loud.  She also received funding through Donors Choose, her library was bursting with titles, new and old.  Mrs. Libro had lots of books and she still knew about every one of them.

Over the summer a collection of books by up and coming young writers arrived at Lincoln High.  Mrs. Libro, of course, immediately came to inspect the books and to shout at the custodians, “TO DO THEIR JOBS FOR GOODNESS SAKE”- students were not the only people she yelled at, no one was safe.  Principal Sweat hid in his office.  She insisted the books be moved behind her desk instantly so she could start processing them.  Mrs. Libro ranted incessantly, which of course, the custodians ignored.  She roared on and on until suddenly she fell silent.  Now, this was unusual,  the newest and bravest custodian peered over her shoulder.  One of the new books was open to the dedication.  It read:

To Mrs. Libro-Respect.

April 22, 2022 16:24

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3 comments

Dhwani Jain
13:00 May 15, 2022

Wow! I wish this is a real story!

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L.M. Lydon
14:14 Apr 28, 2022

I really enjoyed the character of Mrs. Libro. I particularly enjoyed the image of her haunting the hallways and chasing down hapless late-book miscreants. Her interaction with Juan, who is the literal opposite in laconic silence, is a nice contrast!

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Alex Wheatley
03:02 Apr 28, 2022

Well done! Thanks for sharing this story. I really liked the ending… the one thing that got her to be quiet. Also appreciated the capitals- the voice in my head as I read became a holler and it helped give a vivid impression of Mrs. Libro.

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