Coming of Age Teens & Young Adult Fiction

Cushie Jay wasn’t a bad girl. In fact, there wasn’t a soul in Hallymey Row who could testify to the contrary. And if you kept on driving all the way behind the hill, and stopped in Polton, odds are that no one there could either. Those two small villages, separated by a hollow vast valley everyone called The Bliss, had always been passionate rivals. It has been a tradition since as long as books can remember, that once in possession of a driving license, kids would drive through The Bliss and throw a personal belonging onto the respective towns kiosks. It could be anything really — used hairbrushes, lighters, Christmas socks, rackets, sunglasses… Cushie Jay, resident of Hallymey Row, had thrown her diary. Bad girls do not have the time for diaries, it’s been said. 

What generally happened after a T-mission, a Throwing Old Things Day, was that the respective authorities of the town would call for volunteers to pick up the old objects. The policy was simple: if you picked it up from the ground, it was yours. In Hallymey Row, Drew Wire was always a volunteer. He was the town’s most avid collector of artefacts, so much that he opened his house every Sunday from 9:00 to 7:00 to show his collections to interested parties. Usually, it was a fun activity for the youngest and it would be unlikely to find any citizen of Hallymey Row who hadn’t been at least once to Drew Wire’s Open Collections of Things That Have Been Loved But No Longer. It was the name he gave to his recurring event and he would pick up a nasty and verbal fight with everyone he would hear call it something else. The town of Polton had a similar tradition in what concerned retrieving the objects yet not, as far as we know, a semi-public collection of Hallymey old goods. 

In truth, there was only one place that connected Polton inhabitants to Hallymey Row, and it was the Sunset Library. Built in the middle of the Bliss, the Sunset Lib — as it was usually referred to— was an immense old broken-down house converted into a massively big semi-public library. It was not completely private because the owner, Mr. George Bolman, could not convince the town mayor of Hallymey Row, Mrs Trucy, to sell the city’s shares. Sunset Lib was the only place in the Valley where it didn’t matter where you came from. Everyone was both a tourist and a local there, everyone was home. The place, which looked more like an abandoned castle from the Medieval Ages than a library, had been restored a few times and like the Sagrada Familia, bore the marks of different visions and centuries. The roof, vast and made of cement, was the most neutral part of the entire building. The windows were made of tainted glass, colourful and vaulted, marrying quite inorganically the brick façade. From the outside, one could count three floors and a dozen narrow balconies. In the spring, a small line of flowery bushes skirted the library’s entrance. 

The Sunset Lib was Cushie Jay’s favourite place, and it was hard to find a reason why it wouldn’t be. It was crowded with silence and pretty things, filled with quiet stories and whispers of history. For a young aspiring rapper such as Cushie Jay, it was a dream come true. That is why, in the summer she turned 18, after she threw away her high school diary from the window of her dusty blue Pontiac and onto Polton’s freshly cleansed kiosk, she drove as fast as she could to the Sunset Lib. 

Once there, she parked her car in the middle of the driveway, grabbed her keys and stood in front of the tall window-glass doors. Barely 5’2, Cushie Jay raised her arm, signalling her presence to the body detectors for the door to open, which they eventually did. Cushie Jay stepped in and her life could finally start. 

Heading fast towards the information counter, Cushie Jay’s pink sneakers squeaked on the sparkling clean floor. She took off her giant pair of sunglasses and stated her name. The old librarian didn’t look up from her book so Cushie Jay repeated it, a bit louder a bit bitter. To this affront, the librarian — Miss Quint, as her name-tag announced — wrinkled her eyes, frowning at CJ. 

  ‘Hello’, she said in the rudest tone she could generate. ‘May I help you?’

Cushie Jay took a deep breath. 

  ‘My name is Cushie Jay and I am here for the Assistant Librarian job.’ 

Miss Quint choked on her inappropriate laugh. 

  ‘Am I funny, Miss Quint? My friends always say I can rhyme but they forbid me to attempt a joke. Apparently, I was never funny. You should meet them, tell them how wrong they are.’

Cushie Jay didn’t blink as Miss Quint blushed and handed CJ an application form. 

  ‘Thank you, Miss Quint, but I already have an interview with Mr. Bolman.’

Miss Quint nodded and dialled her phone. 

  ‘Hello, Mr. Bolman?’, said Miss Quint in a sugary tone. ‘Yes, she is here.’

She put down the phone and indicated to CJ the direction towards Mr. Bolman’s office. 

Cushie Jay couldn’t be just a good girl. She wanted to be more, way more. But she knew she had to be good enough for Mr. Bolman to give her that job. So she crossed her leg on the chair, sat tight, chin up, hair down, and granted the half-owner of Sunset Lib a dazzling smile. Mr. Bolman was a tiny, ageless, elegant man. His desk was clean but punctuated by several dauntingly tall document towers. 

  ‘Cushie Jay’, he said with a smile. ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, finally! I have heard so much about you.’

  ‘Likewise, sir’. 

  ‘George will do just fine, he said putting his glasses on. ‘I see you have graduated, congratulations! Have you celebrated yet?’

  ‘If you ask if I have completed my T-mission, yes I have.’

  ‘How did it feel?’


  ‘You know that I think poorly of this tradition.’

  ‘Everybody does, sir. 

  ‘Very well. You’re a crowd-pleaser, I can see.’

  ‘Not always, sir, but I try my best.’

Mr. Bolman straightens in his chair, and picked up Cushie’s Jay pink, quite empty résumé. 

   ‘I understand this would be your first job.’

   ‘Yes, sir'. 


   ‘Yes, George’. 

   ‘You are aware that we only have a full-time position available?’

   ‘I am.’

   ‘What about school?’

   ‘Well’, said Cushie Jay. ‘What can be a better schooling than the Sunset Lib?’

   ‘You’re not interested in going to university?’

   ‘You mentioned you heard a lot about me. You must know my ultimate goal.’

Mr. Bolman smirked and sat back in his chair. He took another piece of paper and read from it. 

   ‘« The best MC the world has known ». 


   ‘Forgive my ignorance but an MC is…’, said Mr. Bolman scratching the top of his head.

   ‘Master of Ceremonies.’

Mr. Bolman scratched harder then retrieved his hand to place it under his chin, nodding. 

   ‘An emcee’, said Cushie Jay, with remarkable candor, ‘is a person who rhymes in music.’

Cushie Jay cleared her throat and uncrossed her legs. She leaned forward so Mr. Bolman could maybe witness the sparkles in her eyes. 

   ‘An emcee is a storyteller, a modern troubadour, a writer and a singer! Mr. George, an emcee tells the past with dashes of present and lives forever.’

   ‘You voiced your passion quite clearly.’, said Mr. Bolman visibly troubled. ‘But how could working in a library help you become…what it is you want to become?’

   ‘This place.’, said Cushie Jay suave. ‘This place holds it all.’

   ‘I am not following, I’m afraid—

She stood up, empowered.

   ‘I am a girl with two dreams, Mr. George.’

Mr. Bolman looked surprised by CJ’s sudden move. He stood up too. 

   ‘My first dream is to succeed as an MC.’

   ‘And your second?’

   ‘Well, my second only stands as a dream if the first becomes a reality.’

Mr. Bolman walked away from his desk and, hands behind his back, walked to the corner of the room, pensive. 

   ‘How do you call a dream that isn’t yet a dream?’


Mr. Bolman, sighed. 

   ‘What a word.’

   ‘Words, indeed.’, said Cushie Jay, audacious. 

Mr. Bolman turned to her and stared at her in silence for a moment. 

   ‘« Le me live, love and do it well in good sentences »’, said Mr. Bolman. ‘Do you know who wrote that?’

   ‘Sylvia Plath, sir.’

   ‘You know must know her tragic end. It is a difficult life that of a writer, you must know that too’, said Mr. Bolman, scholastic. 

Cushie Jay’s fingers and her green-painted nails started tapping on Mr. Bolman’s table. 

    ‘I know that the right beat makes you tell the right stories’, she said, believing. 

She tapped a different rhythm. Mr. Bolman let a movement escape from his body. He blamed the beat Cushie Jay was mining. 

    ‘Mr. George, let me learn and thrive, let me prove to you that under no circumstances, I shall derive. Let me write, and let me gorge myself with all the history, all the greatest and the smallest stories here at rest.’, she said in a breath. 

Mr. Bolman’s feet stopped stumping the floor and he decided to sit. With a rapid hand gesture, he disposed of her presence. Cushie Jay, crushed but proud, didn’t move. 

    ‘You should go, said Mr. Bolman in a forbidding done. ‘Miss Quint needs to log you in the system before we open.’

Cushie Jay blushed with happiness. 

    ‘Of course, thank you Mr. George!’

Twinkling with excitement, she left Mr. Bolman’s office, running after her career. 

Cushie Jay was bad at remaining silent. As Miss Quint shushed her for the thousand's time, she lowered her voice a bit more. She glanced at the book she was holding, smiling eyes and lips, scribbling down in her notebook, rapping in the silence of Sunset Lib’s Wednesday afternoon, the adventures of great women who didn’t make it into History.

April 21, 2022 13:58

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