You walk toward a familiar desk where a small pot of scarlet geraniums stands guard over the most precious of desks. A fake gold plaque is propped up against the pot bearing the majestic word “Librarian” on it.
An aromatic smell greets your nose. You’re unsure whether the fragrance is coming from the desk christened librarian or the flowers. Either way, it is a delightful smell.
“Good morning,” you tell the desk with the plaque and pot.
“Hello,” the desk says back. “Ready for your next book?”
“Yeah. I finished reading the book you recommended last night, and I’ve been dying to come back ever since.”
“Oh, I can only imagine the hard wait.” The desk gives a small chuckle. “Follow me. I have the perfect book for you.”
A young man rises from behind the desk and gestures with his hand for you to follow suit. You recognize him. He’s the teenager who volunteers at your local library to earn service hours for his college. You’re almost certain that he’s already surpassed the minimum requirement for service hours but you believe he continues to volunteer at the library because of his love for books, like you.
You follow the young man as he guides you through the building of knowledge. It’s a small library but that doesn’t impede your imagination from wandering from shelf to shelf, book to book, imagining all sorts of worlds and adventures each book can transport you into. The wonderful smell of paper and ink permeating from the books is a sweet delicacy to your nose. You pause for a second to breathe it all in.
Promptly enough you fall back into step, lagging just behind the librarian. Suddenly you notice that the familiar footstool your friend often brings with him is lacking on your journey. He always brought the stool with him and its disappearance roused your attention. The young man is also walking quicker than normally. You have to step twice to equal one of his steps.
Your relationship is a mutualistic one. He recommends books for you to read and, in return, you help him around the library by cleaning, shelving, or by completing some other task that needs to be done. Plus, whenever you returned a book late he never fined you (as long as he was the librarian in charge.)
As you’re wondering about the young man’s strange behavior, you realize that you’re far behind him. You meet him at the very back section of the library (which is also your favorite section) just in time to watch him confidently take a thick book off a shelf. He then turns to you with the chosen book in hand.
“This here is the book of all books,” he says solemnly. He leaves you no time to reply and turns around to go back the way you came. You couldn’t see the title of the book because of the way he’s holding it.
You walk just a length behind him and notice that the way he carries the book is as if it was worth more than gold. He doesn’t tuck it under his arm as he precedes back to the librarian's desk. Today, your friend is acting very differently. It’s not a holiday or anything special, just a regular Saturday morning.
Once you arrive back at the desk he checks the book out and slides a thin piece of paper (which will be more than the book’s return date; it’ll also be your future bookmark) in the middle of the book.
“Let’s see if you’ll like this one. I think it might just change your life,” he says with a wink. “And don’t forget to come back tomorrow morning to help prepare the public hall. A key speaker is coming to talk there at noon so don’t be late.”
You nod and thank him for the book and then leave the library. This was how your meetings went. Words were useless, actions were a bit better at conveying messages, but books were how the two of you bonded.
Once outside, you read the title which is printed in fancy gold lettering. You’ve never heard of that book but you trust that the librarian chose the perfect book.
After you return home and finish your homework, you bring out the chosen book from your patched-up backpack. You were a middle sibling out of your four other siblings and always received the hand-me-down things. Half already went to college, the other bunch was still in elementary school, and you went to high school.
Both your parents worked two jobs. One was an office job consisting of filing papers and whatnot at night. The other was working as a cashier at the local rundown Walmart in the morning. They were on a tight schedule and were rarely seen at home. With your two older siblings gone away to college, you were unofficially put in charge of your younger siblings.
You had a couple of friends at the public school located near your apartment but you had never invited them over, even when they asked. You had been too embarrassed to bring them over to your apartment. It was always a mess and a graveyard of abandoned Barbie dolls and plush toys.
Once, you tried to clean up the mess but minutes later it had returned to its former messy state. That’s one admirable trait about you: you never make the same mistake twice. You take your mind off family and friends and focus your whole attention on the book, wondering what world you’ll emerge into this time.
With the book in your lap, you gently caress your fingers across the soft hardcover. It's a heavy book but that never hindered your reading. A book’s a book no matter its size or weight. But no, a person’s not a person unless they fit into society’s rules like a glove.
You lift the heavy book onto the shabby dining room table and block out the sound of your two siblings shrieking in the room upstairs. You open the book to page one and begin reading with the sacred words, In the beginning, God created heaven and earth.
You pause reading at the noise of a door creaking open on its partly rusted hinges. You bring out your phone to check the time: it reads 9:13. Your mother normally leaves her office job at midnight so it’s too early for her to be back. Your father insisted that your mother leave her night shift earlier than him.
If it’s not your parents then the person in your house must be a burglar. Your heart begins to speed and your palms start to sweat. The stillness of the house is too much to bear and the silence makes every sound magnify. You realize that you’re not worried for yourself, but for your younger siblings. If something happened to them, you’d never forgive yourself. You ask God to keep them safe. You’re alarmed at this thought since your family were atheists and were never destined to believe in a God.
You don’t have much time to mull over this astonishing fact because you hear footsteps approach the kitchen. You grab the book and backpack and quietly run up the carpeted stairs and wait, holding your breath. You’re debating whether to call the police or not when the person comes into view. A small sigh escapes your lips.
It’s only your mother, muttering under her breath about some forgotten papers. Like a cat waiting for its prey, you remain motionless on the stairs, peeking through the banisters to watch your mothers’ next moves. You cannot believe your luck.
After a few more minutes of quiet rummaging, your mother leaves. You sigh at your silliness and overactive imagination. Next, you check on your siblings who are upstairs asleep in their room. They have all fallen asleep on the ground, sleeping in awkward positions. It reminds you of Sleeping Beauty and how all the people in the kingdom fell instantly asleep in their previous positions when the enchantment took hold.
You gently take the two little sleeping beauties and tuck them in bed right next to each other. You turn off the light in their room and return to the dining room table where you open the book back up to where you last left off reading. Your heart has sped down.
You try to delve back into the book, but something’s preventing you. It’s that request you made to this God to save your siblings from the imaginary burglar.
Since you can’t concentrate on reading the book anymore you just hold it to your chest and smell the pages. You don’t tuck it under your arm like you normally did with other books. Now you understood why the librarian held it in that manner.
You trudge upstairs to your bedroom and toss your backpack on the wooden floor. The book is your only company during the night and, in the bathroom, you’re very careful to keep it dry. You know you must keep the book a secret and hidden from everyone but yourself.
Your head is spinning with questions and to quiet your buzzing mind you crawl back into your bedroom to sleep. Before you welcome the realm of dreams you wrench open a loose floorboard in your bedroom with your nails and slide the book into a dusty hole. You silently make an apology to God about the book’s secret location and vow to find a better spot soon.
You replace the floorboard and crawl into bed with a bubbling sensation in the pit of your stomach. You take one last look at the book’s hiding place and turn off the light. That bubbly feeling doesn’t leave and by the looks of it, it won’t anytime soon, so you take this opportunity to reflect on the precious treasure the librarian gave you.
All that reflecting did was create more unsolvable questions. Too tuckered out to think anymore, you merely stare up at your popcorn ceiling and recite the first few lines of your book: In the beginning, God created heaven and earth. And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of God moved over the waters.
You string together the same words over and over again in your mind. You stumble over most of them at first but eventually get the hang of it. You try repeating the words as if memorizing biology definitions. It was a terrible comparison but in your tired state of mind, you cannot think of something better.
Next, you say the words in an even pattern, a normal and casual one like how you would speak with a friend. You like hearing the sound of those comforting words. It requires no thinking, only a relaxed and willing mindset. Luckily, you have plenty of both.
You never tire of repeating those lines and hope that you never will.