“Excuse me, is this where I get help finding books?” Her voice broke through the reverie of my day. I pulled yet another stack of children’s picture books to my scanner. It took me a moment to realize she was talking to me.
Before I could think my mouth fell open with a not so subtle, “Huh?”
She had long thick hair that fell over one shoulder. It was the color of honey. Wide brown eyes stared at me, waiting for a response.
Stop sliding the books. I told myself. I continued to slide the books between us. Stop sliding the-
She gave me a patient smile and said again, “Can you help me find a bo-”
Something crashed over the edge of the counter, clipping her shoulder bag. The scanner rattled against the front counter and upended itself onto the floor.
Come on! You’re killing me! I yelled in my head.
It was the scanner, acting it’s melodramatic part. She half dove, half sank to the floor in an attempt to stop the misguided projectile.
Further down the side of the circulation desk I spied the reference librarian staring at me. An air of severity and disgust grew around her as her back straightened and she swiveled her chair back to the computer.
Reflexes born of a sloth churned into action as I made an attempt to recover some semblance of a functioning adult.
“Oh crap! I’m sorry, it does this all the time.” I muttered, reaching over the counter top for the hanging machine. The girl picking up the scanner’s stand didn’t see me leering over the edge, hand outstretched. I didn’t see her coming either.
“Ouch!” “Oumph!” We both said as face met head. I got a distinct smell of lilacs as her hair tangled in my face and badge. My hand successfully clamped itself around her purse.
Holy fire, please let me die now. Let go! Let go!
I was pulling away, trying to regain feeling in my nose, she was rubbing her head, face scrunched up in pain. My hand remained on her bag, pulling her closer to the counter.
“I’m so so sorry. Are you okay?” I said, knowing she’d probably avoid me the next time she visited the library.
She laughed and winced at the same time, “Yeah I think so, are you?”
Her voice was silk billowing in the wind. It was low, but not man-ish.
I could listen to her all day. My mind lingered on the thought, a bit longer than it should have.
Our eyes settled on my hand holding her back. It convulsed as if caught in the act of thieving.
“Errr, I’m sorry. Let me just . . . not steal you purse. . .”
She laughed again, the sound stirring something within my chest.
“Shh!!” Said the end of the counter as a perturbed librarian half stood from her chair, glaring at the two of us.
“Sorry.” The girl said, subconsciously biting her lips. With a huff the librarian sat back down, hands flourishing a black pen and paper. We turned to one another, eyebrows raised.
She beautiful. You’re beautiful. I wanted to say, but stifled the thought.
Finally remembering her question I pointed at the librarian’s back offering a conspiratorial whisper, “If you don’t make eye contact she might be the person who could help.”
She smiled, her eyes flashing with mirth.
“Well then, wish me luck.”
I pushed a book under the now precariously perched scanner and smiled, “Oh you’ll need all the luck in the world.”
Covering a laugh with a small cough, she smiled at me. The end of the desk huffed with annoyance.
“Thank you . . . for your help.” Her face flushed, and before I could do anything she walked away.
Still gazing at the spot where she had once existed I let out a sigh. Early blossoms on a narrow bush tapped against the large window. Their pink petals fluttering in the wind.
“You’re welcome.” I whispered, shooting a glance over to the reference desk. It was empty. Another sigh escaped me.