The Lost Librarian

Submitted into Contest #116 in response to: Write a story that centers around a parking permit.... view prompt

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Fiction Funny Friendship

It all starts on a cold winters evening. Cars passing by reflect the moonlit sky. Freya Holly Marissa Nancy Samuels gazes up at the stars, her eyes shimmering with joy. She was about to live the life she always dreamed of.

She rushed delightedly up the marble steps, through the gate and into the foyer of her meticulous rented London flat. It always brought her indecisive feelings living here, with the huge windows, and the intricate designs carved into the marble work, it sort of reminded her of the house she lived in as a child. Lonely.

She tiptoed through the kitchen, with its antiquated appliances whistling eerily at her in the dark, and up the unilluminated stairs into her bedroom. The only room that was just simply monotonous in her house. She could never seem to enjoy being in there, it only made her realise none of it was hers. She could never afford any of it.

Freya slumped down at her dressing table and let her hair loose. Her long blonde curls now lay limp down her back. Her amber eyes shone in frustration. It always seemed like all the joy was sucked out of her when she walked into the room. She let out a huge yawn and felt her eyelids flutter closed. She eventually gave into her weariness and let herself drift off into deep and utter rest.

The morning sun shone irksomely in her face, awaking her from her slumber. She shook herself and began to comprehend what day it was. The day she had been waiting for her whole life. She darted back and forth in her bedroom, styling her hair, completing her make-up and finding an appropriate outfit. Checking the time on her watch, she yanked her handbag off the hook and bolted out of the foyer, through the gate and down the marble steps.

The spitting rain stung Freya’s cheeks as she ran through the pebbled streets. As she began to draw farther away from her apartment, she started to regret not bringing her car. Her boss had given her a parking permit after the interview and said it belonged to a man who hadn’t shown up for the past three days. Freya thought of it as a bit cruel, but didn’t dare question it, in clear risk of losing her job if she did.

Freya entered the building. She could hear the faint hushes of librarians and the crisp rustle of pages being turned. She could even almost hear the thoughts of people around her, diving into a realm of imagination. She took a deep breath in and trotted up to the front desk, grinning from ear to ear.

“Excuse me. It’s Freya Samuels, here to see Wenda Charleston.”

“Freya Samuels, is it?” a plump woman emerged from inside a room to the right of the front desk, “I think you may have the wrong place young lady.”

“So, you’re not Wenda Charleston?”

“No. I’m Ms Charleston,” the woman said with a scowl. “Ms Charleston and Ms Charleston only.”

“Oh. Uh- I’m utterly sorry Ms Charleston. It won’t happen again, I’ll be sure of it.”

“Enough small talk. You have a book reserved for you in aisle eight. I would like you to go home at precisely 2:45pm and read that book. Then come back tomorrow once you are fully prepared and confident you know how to work this job.” Ms Charleston slunk back into the comfort of her room to the right of the front desk.

Freya breathed a sigh of relief and began to wander around the many aisles of the library until she reached aisle eight, where her book was located.

The books were properly organised in an alphabetical order, some untouched and some filthy with fingerprints. Highlighters had brightened the pages, but left the words smudged and unreadable. The parchment well used but torn and sticky from the glue used in an attempt to fix the mistake. Overall, Freya found it somewhat diverting, how so much happiness had come from one book, one author, and shared among a world full of adolescents, who knew not what to do with their lives, but for them to turn to the library and read. Well, she found it quite astonishing.

It didn’t take long before her mind began to wander, and she decided to leave the alleviation of the library and take the long stroll home, bringing a few books with her. Unlike her walk to the library in the early hours of the morning, Freya chose to take the scenic route. As she felt the dead winter leaves crunch below her feet, the Chaffinches, hidden deep in the willow trees, began to brighten the dull evening with their sweet, melodic melodies.

Freya arrived home with a spring in her step. She skipped up the marble steps, through the gate and into the foyer. The substantial windows that once let in the warm colours of the sky, now drops of tears from above silently rolled sadly down the windowpane. She collapsed into a plush armchair, switched on the electric fireplace and began to read.

After a few exhausting hours of reading the book Ms Charleston had commanded her to read, it was finally complete. Freya expected to be disappointed that she had to close the book, supposedly full of preoccupation, but it was the first time in her life that she was overflowing with relief to take a breath away from the fumes of the newly printed ink and to hop in her heated car to go and return it.

Freya loved driving at night, with the rain trickling down her windscreen. When she was a child, she loved to guess what raindrop would win, quizzically staring down the opponent raindrop. As she began to draw nearer to the library, she began to recall the strange man to whom her parking permit used to belong. It was peculiar how he didn’t show up to work for the previous three days. Why? The staff all just assumed he had died, and maybe that was the case, but it just seemed a little too odd.

Freya parked and set out to the library, in search of the returns slot. She went up to the entry, but it was bolted shut. She was puzzled, because she was sure that Ms Charleston said that it closed at 8pm, but maybe she misheard. Freya hurried back down to her car while the wind was blowing harshly in her face, but caught a glimpse of a blanket that was draped over part of the building that was being refurbished.

She swiftly rushed over and peered inside to see if the return slot was behind the refurbishment. Freya shone her phone light into the darkness, and it illuminated the figure of a man. They made eye contact for less than a second before Freya ran. She ran past the Alder trees whistling in the wind and jumped two feet with two feet into the air with fright as a cement truck came screeching past her.

Before she knew it, she was planted safely in her bed. In her monotonous bedroom. In her antiquated rented flat. Her make-up still masked her fatigued face, her long blonde curls now lay limp down her back once again. She was too exhausted to do anything but sleep. Like the previous night, she allowed her eyelids to flutter closed, and her mind to drift off into deep and utter rest.

The gentle patter on her windows shook her awake from the horror she experienced the night before. She pulled the woollen duvet off her and took a nice long stretch before getting to her feet and starting the day. She started by making a warm chocolate mocha and then began to get herself ready.

She slurped up the remaining chocolate at the bottom of her mocha and set it by the kitchen sink. After grabbing her handbag, she skipped out of the foyer, through the gate and down the marble steps.

The drive to the library wasn’t as rainy as it was when she was walking the day before, but the road was slippery, and the rain was slightly drizzly. Freya parked in her designated parking spot and started to walk up to the library’s huge sliding doors. Suddenly she felt a tap on her shoulder, she whipped her head around to find the same man she had glimpsed behind the blanket, now standing shrewdly behind her.

“What are you doing parked in my parking spot?” the unknown man said in an icy tone.

“I have a parking permit. Uh, sir,” Freya stuttered.

“Do you now.” His arresting blue eyes cut deep into her soul.

“Um, yes. It was said to have belonged to a man who…” She trailed off as she began to put the puzzle pieces together. “You’re not dead.”

“Clearly not.”

“Why are people saying you are dead then?”

“Because they assume that I have some unknown rare disease that caused me to be so reserved and, well, lonely.”

Freya’s heart reached out to the man, and she offered to help him in any way. To get his job back, somewhere to stay, his parking permit. For she knew the restlessness of being lonely, not knowing who to turn to. Having no people to comfort you in times when you need those people the most. The man offered to make her a cup of tea, she obliged and followed him behind the blanket covering the building refurbishment. It was a nice little place, barely liveable, but nice enough.

The tea was already brewed, and the teapot sat delicately in the centre on a miniature table, most likely used for camping purposes. Shielding the teapot from the wind, a pretty tea-cosy was wrapped tightly around the teapot. It was the most extraordinary little tea-cosy Freya had ever seen. Every little detail was so finely designed. Though printed in the dullest of colours, it still seemed to come to life with every glance.

Freya had found out that the man’s name was George Fredric James Martin Reed, but he told Freya to simply call him by the name George. A long name, but that was one of the many things they had in common. As George started to pour the tea, Freya began to study him. His movements were sharp, but before now, she hadn’t noticed how his hands trembled. He didn’t seem the strongest of people mentally, but physically, she wondered how he could live here, let alone build up muscles.

The first thing she had observed about George was his electric blue eyes, so bright the colour was even identifiable under the shadiness of his home. He had dark chestnut hair, curled like Freya’s, that hung loosely above his broad shoulders. She did have to admit, she found him quite attractive if it weren’t for the stench that followed him everywhere.

“So, what would you like to do about your job?” Freya asked politely, while sipping her tea.

“Nothing. I don’t really care to be honest,” George replied quietly. “I would prefer if I never see that bogart of a woman again.”

“Ms Charleston?”

“Yes. All she ever did was tell her employees that I had an unknown disease that would eventually kill me off,” George sighed. “She was right. It did kill me off. It killed me off from the one job I had always wanted to have. The one job that I had been waiting for my entire life.”

“I still don’t fully understand how she came to the conclusion that you died?”

“It started on my first day of work, I joined not long before you actually. I didn’t say one word the entire week. Not even to say good evening or good morning.” George took a slurp of his tea and continued, “I felt quite deserted with zero young employees like me, who actually have an imagination. All the employees were just old hags who didn’t have much of a life.” George chuckled and finished with, “Ms Charlesbottom or whatever the darn heck her name is, apparently researched why I don’t talk. That’s where she came to conclusion that I have an unknown disease that can kill people. God only knows what that disease is. For all I know, she could’ve made it all up just to add a little spice to her tedious life.”

Freya smiled, “So you just didn’t show up ever again?”

“Yep. I just couldn’t take being under constant scrutiny caused by her pathetic little lies,” George groaned. “Then I guess maybe she did genuinely think I had a disease that can kill people.”

“Are you up to playing a little trick on her? I mean, it won’t be bad if she did make it up. It will put her in her place either way. Hopefully she will get it through her head that she can’t give someone’s job and parking permit away three days after they don’t turn up,” Freya suggested hopefully. “It will be a little fun, don’t you think?”

Freya explained what she planned, and George finally became convinced and even excited for what was about to happen, at midnight the following evening.

Freya and George eventually bid their goodbyes and Freya wandered back to her Ford Focus parked awkwardly in George’s old parking spot. She hurried home and up the marble steps, through the gate and into the foyer of her rented London flat. She got ready for the night, bounced into her bed and wrapped herself in her snuggly duvet, elated about the following evening.

The next day went as quick as a flicker of lightning. Freya had a relaxing day at work and afterwards she quickly rushed home to prepare herself for the weather that night. When she arrived a few hours later at the library, George was already waiting patiently for her by his old parking space, and they rushed over to the telephone booth opposite. Freya’s icy fingers dialled Ms Charleston’s number and waited for her to answer.

“Hello, who is this?” Her voice questioned, annoyed.

Freya giggled and then put the phone to her mouth, enclosing her fist around the speaker to mask her voice, “Meet me at the British Library on Euston Road. Alone.” She hung up the phone.

Freya and George rushed to the library and waited on the wet stone steps. It seemed like an eternity and they were about to give up and go home when a short plump figure emerged from behind the building.

“Quick, get into position,” Freya whispered as she ducked behind a nearby tree.

George rushed around the parking lot and eventually began to draw nearer to Ms Charleston. It only took a light tap on her shoulder from George for her to whip around and attempt to punch him on the nose. Only she missed, and he swiftly darted around to the other side of her.

As soon as Freya saw the expression on Ms Charleston’s face as she saw that it was George who she attempted to punch, Freya roared with laughter and emerged from behind the tree she was so cautiously hiding behind.

Ms Charleston pointed an accusing finger at her and screamed, “You! You were involved in this terrible scheme.”

Freya sighed, her warm breath creating a snake of smoke from her mouth, “Yes. Unfortunately, yes. It was my idea.”

“How dare you,” Ms Charleston muttered. “I don’t deserve this.”

She turned around and stormed off into the night.

The next morning, Ms Charleston was not at the library. She was not slithering in the shadows of the many book aisles or hiding in the room to the right of the front desk. She wasn’t anywhere to be found, but she had left a note. It straightforwardly read, I quit, in her slanted handwriting. All the staff were confused as to why she had suddenly quit a job she had apparently loved more than her own life. Well, Freya knew, and so did George. Maybe she finally realised how discourteous she was and was somewhat embarrassed.

Nobody will ever know the reasons behind Ms Charleston’s actions, but Freya and George will at least be able to each have their own designated parking spot, without needing a parking permit. 

October 21, 2021 13:07

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9 comments

Merari Acosta
18:06 Oct 28, 2021

Very well thought out and organized. I really enjoyed reading it. :)

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Hollie Isabella
01:05 Oct 29, 2021

Thank you! I really appreciate it!

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Harken Void
11:53 Oct 28, 2021

Hey Hollie! I think your story is very sweet and funny. You managed to create a full story with two heros and a vilain, showing us their struggle and eventual victory over Ms Charlesbottom. I think you did a great job! Now for the constructive criticism: In the oppening paragraph you used present tense, and later on past tense. Usually it's best to stick to one tense throughout the entire story. Some sentences were a bit clunky, like this one: "She ran past the Alder trees whistling in the wind and jumped two feet with two feet into the ai...

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Hollie Isabella
01:10 Oct 29, 2021

Hello! Thank you so much for giving me your feedback! It really helped a lot, usually when people "give me feedback" it is just putting my story down so I was really surprised when your feedback was actually really helpful and I am glad that you enjoyed my story! Some of the things I did on purpose like the melodic melodies, but I do see where you are coming from and thank you for pointing that out because I think that I could've wrote that in a different way. Once again, I really appreciate your feedback and all of the complements, and ...

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Harken Void
12:04 Oct 29, 2021

My pleasure, Hollie. In my experience I've found people on Reedsy to be very supportive and helpful, never deliberately putting people down. Even those that did not like some of my stories expressed it in a way that was constructive and helped me write better the next time. If you stick with Reedsy I think you'll have a wonderful time - it's a great community :) You'll definitely improve as a writer and maybe find some new friends! Thanks, and have a wonderful day yourself :)

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08:16 Oct 27, 2021

You really did a great job as a young teen.

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Hollie Isabella
01:11 Oct 29, 2021

Thank you! I really appreciate it!

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08:16 Oct 27, 2021

You really did a great job as a young teen.

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Hollie Isabella
11:29 Oct 25, 2021

I would really appreciate it if you comment what you think about my story! Please don't be horrible about it though, I am 13 and submitted this story with my mums permission so I hope you enjoy, keeping in mind that I am only a teen.

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