Dec 3, 2014 – Library Scene Flash Fiction

Posted on 03 December 2014

Dust drifts down in the beam of light, a galaxy of motes drifting in the otherwise stagnant air. Her eyes adjust to the light, and she rises to a single knee and squints out into the darkness. The air smells of dust and old paper and forgotten stories, and as she stands, her boots scrap against the floor like the sound of a blade against the strop.

She glances up to where the light is bleeding into the room to make sure no one is following, and then steps into the darkness. As if the light somehow held back not just darkness, but the room itself, she is swallowed by darkness, its velvet cloak wrapping around her, not hostile, but not friendly either. More as a host unaccustomed to guests but still polite. Oh, come in, it says. Let me make you some tea. There might be scones.

Her eyes adjust, and the room is cast in blues and blacks that are felt more than seen. Shelves lined with unlettered spines of books, a desk with an antiquated terminal and printer, a slightly padded chair, comfortable but not cozy. Oh, the darkness seems to say. I hadn’t expected company.

“You rarely do,” she says. “I’m sorry.”

Sorry? Yes. Sorry. There should have been company. The darkness should not have been here, alone, all this time. Company besides empty books, dust, and regret.

She walks to the shelf and crouches down. There, on the lowest shelf, is a single stamped spine, gold leaf flaked and faded and barely legible. She pulls the book off the shelf and the darkness takes a breath and holds it in, becoming heavy. It is a weight that sits on more than the shoulders, but down in the heart, where dark secrets that yearn to break free are held in to die silent.

She does not open the book, but only runs her fingers along the spine, feeling the rise and fall of pressed lettering, the different texture from rough to smooth back to rough back to smooth. She cannot see the lettering, not really. There isn’t enough light for that. But she can feel it, and it can feel her, and the darkness feels them both and for a moment hopes and fears.

She glances to the chair, but opts instead to cross her legs and sit in the floor, looking back to the light and the dust. She smiles, book in her lap and still unopened. It had been so long, so many little reasons, like pebbles ignoring they were part of the avalanche. She had been here before, just like this, returned and vigorous. She had left before to, disillusioned and broken. Why not one more time? The darkness exhaled, bowing to the inevitable, and settled in. If there was more, it kept it to itself. But in some small, distant café where light and darkness take afternoon tea and discuss their affairs, it knew it would say it was glad.

She leaned her head back and closed her eyes, still smiling.

“Let me tell you a story.”

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