Fantasy Fiction

It was the mewling that caught her ear. Outside the normal range of library vocals, it was haunting and slightly sad. It set her on a hunt.

Connie woke this morning rested and with a sense of anticipation. It was a great way to start the day! Life and work became a tad stale lately and she questioned her purpose, her possibilities and all her decisions in life. It was a recurring theme for her.

So many questions and virtually no answers. At least, no answers that satisfied her desire for meaning and tangible goals. Her dad was still of the mind that she needed to get married, keep her job so she would always be self-sufficient and be prepared to walk out on the bum at a moment’s notice. She was thirty-two, gorgeous, well-dressed in the latest fashions available at Salvation Army, Goodwill, or her favorite second-hand store. Librarians may have the wealth of civilizations at their fingertips, but it is not spendable.

There is the old tragedy of losing a parent at an early age and growing up in a single-parent household. Something is missing when the dichotomy of parenthood is not maintained. Connie’s coming of age was not much different than what every other single-parent child experienced. Except her dad raised her on a manager’s salary with good insurance. Her teeth were straight, she knew there was a warm place to go if ends would not meet and she had a confidant who would and could come to her damsel-in-distress call.

She liked to be at her library (and, yes, that is how she thought of it) at least an hour or two before the rest of her team showed up. It was quiet and gave her uninterrupted time to gather herself for the day. 

For example, today the Rahway book club was meeting in the large seating area over by the Research section. They met for about three hours discussing their latest find. They needed the chairs rearranged auditorium-style and the desk and chair set front and center. The hors d'oeuvres table needed to be set up with a large bag-lined trash can close by. The club members bring everything else when they start trickling in around 11:00.

The Boy Scouts were coming in late morning to work on their Reading Merit Badge. Joyce and Darren would teach them how to research the library's computerized catalog and help them through the steps to develop their “book talks.” These would be presented to the rest of their troop as part of the Merit Badge effort. That would take no more than three or four hours and they would stay comfortably far from the book club.

As she went from her daily calendar review to bringing up her email, she heard the mewling. It made her think of a cat. She knew there was no cat because she had locked up last night and done her walking inspection before that. 

She expected no one else for another hour so no one else could let a cat in. Interesting.

She stepped out of her office to figure this out. From her door, she could see the Research section, the Fiction and Non-Fiction shelves filling the expanse in front of her, the computer room with its carrels and large picture windows just beyond the shelving, and the double doors to the small amphitheater to the left just beyond the Research section.

The restrooms were off to her left along the same wall as her office and the staff kitchen/break room was behind a single door off to her right just beyond the other three staff offices down the wall to her right.

She heard it again from the far side of the Research section. She could not see anything but headed that way. She stopped when she reached the seating area and listened. Nothing.

Wait! There it was again! From the auditorium! A little spooked, she headed for the double doors and opened the right side one. The automatic lights came on and she beheld just about the last thing she could expect.

“Nana!?!” she exclaimed. Off to the side of the podium in the front of the room sat a frail-looking woman in a rocking chair. In her lap was a tuxedo-furred cat with bewitching blue eyes.

Both the woman and the cat looked up at her with the same calmness they would have displayed in their own living room.

“Yes, Dear. I’ve been waiting for you for a bit. I suppose Precious’s meowing alerted you to us being here.”

“Nana, you died years ago!”

“I know,” Nana replied. “So did Precious, don’t you remember?”

“What’s going on? How can you be here? Why are you here?” The questions boiled out of Connie.

“Now, now, calm down, Sweetie. I can explain everything. Well, everything but Precious. I don’t know why she got to come.

“Your mother asked me to visit with you. She loves you very much and misses you terribly. I know, they say that once you get to Heaven you leave earthly cares behind. That’s not completely true. We still care for those we have always cared for.

“Anyway, your mother is busy and could not come herself. Thus, me. And, Precious, I guess.

“You are special. Somehow you attracted a lot of attention from those on high and they want you to know your prayers for a whole family are answered. That’s the good news.

“The kind of sad news for you is that your dad had a heart attack in his sleep last night and he is visiting with your mother getting oriented to his new life. Now, now, sit down and listen.

“Wait, don’t cry yet. Here’s the interesting news. For the rest of your life here, we will be a prayer away. We will always be discreet; we’re not stupid, you know. 

“We want only the best for you. I can tell you that you need to buy five lottery tickets today after work at that store on your way home. Be prepared to share your winnings. There will be plenty to take care of all about which you care.

“Okay, after you give me a hug and Precious a pat, you can cry. We will all meet your home tonight. Remember, we love you.”

Then she was gone. Until tonight.

Who knew?

August 19, 2023 02:03

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