The Librarian – G. Lowell

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My high school years were the least memorable. At least for me, it was. However, among the pockets of my mind, I do remember the librarian.

The librarian was a short and stumpy little man. His clothes looked as if they were a decade old and he reeked of fresh cut lumber. Since the library was adjacent to the cafeteria, I would often peer into the rows of shelves only to see him twiddling his thumbs.

One day a friend and I entered the library to complete a research paper. It was cold and the only light in the room came from the windows. As I walked deeper into the library, my friend nudged me.

“Perhaps it is closed,” he whispered loudly.

I nodded and rushed toward the exit. As I rushed, my eyes fell upon the librarian, who was reading a purple, author-less book.

The next day, three oak bookshelves sat outside the library. One of them was warped and most of its stain had been peeled off. The librarian shuffled outside and slid the bookshelves inside the library in one motion. Curious, I got up from my lunch table and went inside. He had already stocked up one bookshelf, an impossible but yet amazing feat. He noticed me.

“An old trick my grandfather taught me. He was also a librarian.”

I nodded as I watched his fingers pick up a stack of books and swept them across the bookshelves.

He tossed a red book in my direction, which I caught foolishly.

“A gift,” he exclaimed.

I looked at the book. There was no cover art or author noted on the book. In fact, all of the books he stacked were like that.

“What kind of books are these?” I asked while flipping through the book.

“Obviously a person’s story,” he chuckled, and went back to stocking the shelves. I brought the book close to my nose. It was warm and had the new book fragrance.

Around 10 o’clock that night, I tossed the book onto my bed. I looked at the book for a moment and flipped to the first page. I began reading it, but it felt as if I were reading a foreign language. I stopped on the fifth page and went back to sleep.

I went back to the library the next day, Hoping for an explanation about the odd book. I found the librarian at his desk, reading one of the mystery novels.

“I don’t get it.”

The librarian frowned and closed his book.

“The story doesn’t make any sense.”

“You don’t understand the book,” he said sharply.

“You are the book,” he added.

I smirked at his comment.

“Have you tried reading it from the author’s feelings and thoughts?”

“It’s kinda hard when the author’s name isn’t even printed in the book.” I was starting to yell.

“I host the high school book club, maybe you should stop by.”

He returned back to his book.

I left the library with rage. I reached into my backpack and grabbed the book that was gifted to me. I cursed to myself and tossed it into a trashcan. That was the first time I ever threw away a book. After school, I entered the library and was immediately greeted by the librarian who was surrounded by at least thirteen other students.

“We were just about to begin our discussion.” He held up a few of the mysterious books.

“Oh, and one more thing…” he tossed me my red book that I threw away earlier. It had a stain on it.

“Alright, I want you guys to tell me one word that best describes the book you are reading.”

He signaled me to go first. I shook my head politely and he gave me a sigh. As he was trying to choose a person, I looked around. Everyone at the meeting had a mysterious novel. All different colors. He finally picked a boy who was engrossed in his book.

“Sorry, sir. this book is very interesting. The author uses a unique choice of words to describe and set his story. It is simply remarkable.”

The boy held up a yellow book and went back to reading it. The librarian nodded and pointed at me. Still trying to process the ecstatic boy’s words, I nodded.

“I honestly disliked this book.” I paused as everyone looked at each other in bewilderment.

“It felt as if I was being thrown into this person’s life and expected to take it all in. It’s brutal.”

A blond girl raised her hand.

“Perhaps the author is bound by anger and confusion.” Everyone agreed.

“Whatever, it’s just odd. I can’t wr-” my watch beeped. “Sorry, I have to go now.”

I turned around and left.

I spent the weekend reading and analyzing the book. “Perhaps the author is bound by confusion and anger.” I thought while I downed a cup of water. The girl from the book club was right.

The intense nature of the book truly represented anger and confusion. I was relieved that I found the true mood of the book. I began reading it with an angry approach and every word spoke out to me. When I finished the book, I wanted to cry but my mind ached for more. On Monday, I got up as early as I could and ran down to the school. I must’ve gotten there too early; even the janitors weren’t there yet. I made my way to the library, grabbed two books, and sat down on a couch.

Around two hours later, the librarian walked in.

“Who the-” he exclaimed as he recognized me. “Oh. It’s you. Scared me for a minute. Pretty good collection?”

I ignored his question.

“Hello?”

I looked up. “These are amazing, where did you get these?”

He ignored the question.

“I should be expecting a new set tomorrow.”

Confused, I went back to my book.

The afternoon had arrived. While everyone was pouring out of the school. I poured my way into the library.

“You’re late!” the librarian exclaimed.

I caught my breath and sat down. I looked at the group. The ecstatic boy and the blonde girl weren’t there. In fact, no members of the previous book club were there. They were all new members. The librarian handed me a plate of cheese and crackers. I took some and stuffed them into my mouth.

“Alright, I want you guys to tell me one word that best describes the book you are reading.”

I had recognized the question. I looked around once more. The unfamiliar faces were holding the strange books. I stood up quickly.

“What’s the matter?” the librarian asked.

“I…I need to go…”

I was sweating.

“Is something wrong?” the librarian added. The librarian started to smile.

I stumbled to the ground and looked up. The last image my brain produced was the librarian’s devilish smile.

My head was dark. I had no recollection of what just happened. Was I dead, alive, or maybe asleep? I opened my eyelids and was immediately blinded by the light above me. I looked around. On the other side of me, I saw the members of the book club. They were shuddering. Tears glistened down their cheeks as my head bobbed. A firm tap landed on my shoulder. I turned around and I was promptly stabbed four times right in my stomach. Inches away from an artery.

I couldn’t tell if that was his intention. He threw me down on a cold metallic platform. I groaned. My blood was flowing into a machine in front of me. I knew I wouldn’t have much time left, so I asked him a question.

“What’s the deal?” I croaked.

He was cleaning the knife that he used to stab me. He stopped and set it right by my foot. He must’ve thought I was paralyzed.

“This machine is a family heirloom. It was built by my great-grandfather during the great war to extract plan’s or information from a prisoner…by turning them into a book.” He smirked. “I wonder what your story is.”

My hands were turning white and I felt a chill up my spine. I made a sudden and foolish move to grab the knife but the librarian beat me to it. He threw the knife up in the air, caught it, and stabbed me in the head.

I was truly dead.

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