The Old Library A short story about a man who lives for reading.

In Words
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bookeh

The old, dusty smell of knowledge saturated the air, filtering down from the topmost bookshelves right down to the bottom where he stood. The air was alive with whispered words, thoughts and dreams that tried to escape their hardcover and paperback prisons.

Titles jumped out and assaulted his eyes; some were more subtle and ambushed his interest quietly, while others teased and taunted, spreading and opening to give a small glimpse of the pleasures that waited inside. He touched one down the spine and made it tingle, he would come back and stroke that one a little later.

Up the aisle he walked, looking left and right, not quite deciding what it was he wanted. He was sure that when he saw it, he would know it.

The light in the library started fading. The sunrays made a dash for the windows, their congregated, disorganised exit forming a yellow traffic jam wherever there was a window. He looked up at the small window as he passed, the impatient light bringing a small smile to his face. It was a good time to be in The Library.

The walls of books appeared to press closer together, forming a collaboration that conspired to keep him there. On an ordinary day, he would have entertained them and stayed until later, but the light was fading and he had to be out of The Library early today. He would be back soon though.

His pace picked up as he walked through the aisles, his eyes caressing the book as his lustful gaze fell upon. His intellectual need would not be sated today though. He was quiet sure that it would take a little longer to find what it was he wanted but he was sure that he would. He always did, that is what The Librarian did – he found books and stories that no one else could.

This was his world. He took two more left turns and then he stopped. He looked at the small red book that was screaming at him to pick it up. The Librarian bent down and picked it up, gently, like a mother picks up an uncomfortable baby. He turned it over and saw the title of the book. It had been a while since had read this one, and he was happy that he had found it. He put it under his arm and walked out of the aisle.

The Librarian walked to a reading shelf nearby and placed the book on the table. Turning on the reading lamp, he cast a warm orange glow on the book, making it quiver with the excitement of being read. The Librarian, smiled, he knew how much books liked being read, it was all that they lived for, and he enjoyed giving them that pleasure. He opened the book and let his eyes caress the text that tattooed the pages.

One page, two pages, twenty and then a hundred fled by. The Librarian was in his element.

Author’s note: Reworked from an old piece I wrote a year ago.

  • Amelie

    Like the way you capture the mood. It reminds me of Inkheart, another great homage to books and the written word…

    In other news, so the Namibian Public Library has been closed nigh to three years!