Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Moments - a discovery


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for teachers and librarians this summer
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This is a piece of the larger story I'm working on, that I've posted over the past few weeks. I'm not sure exactly where this quilt square will go in the overall order of the story, but I am pleased with the ideas within it. I will have to go back to the other pieces to tweak some things, since this story gave me some new insights into the characters of Cassandra and Meghan and how their story is unfolding. This is a first draft... I need to go back and "craft" it more... 

Today's scene is the result of beautiful serendipity. As part of Teachers Write, I wanted to write to the prompt "your character in the library". I searched a bit online to figure out what Meghan might like to read, and came across the books you'll see in the story below. This is a flashback as Meghan walks into the library she and Cassandra frequented as children. 

Arm in arm, we giggled as we entered the library.

The main branch librarian stood behind the counter with her back to the door. Stacks of books surrounded her. She wielded a little date stamper in one hand and a red pen in the other. She turned to glare at us with her a single finger across her lips. When she saw us, though, her frown turned to a smile.

“Cassandra and Meghan, what a surprise.” She murmured. She had the good grace to chuckle softly as she rolled her eyes at us. “It must be – what – eighteen hours or so since last we met?”

I smiled at her as I disentangled my arm from Cassie. She darted off toward the art books, with her sketch book and pencils ready to go. I drifted over closer to Mrs. Brumacher.

“You thought I’d like to read those Sherlock Holmes mysteries, right, Mrs. B?”

She nodded briskly and pointed toward the side wall. “Over there, my dear. D for Doyle. That’s D O Y L E. I’d recommend starting with A Study in Scarlet, as that is where he is first introduced, but choose whatever jumps out at you.”

As she turned back to her shelving duties, I caught the little grin she couldn’t quite hide. Mrs. B had been trying to “expand my horizons” for at least a year now. Out of sheer stubbornness I held out longer than I’d meant to, really. The other librarians were just thrilled that Cassie and I showed up at the library several times a week, but Mrs. Brumacher kept gently nudging me to add novels to my nonfiction stack.

I took a few moments to slide my returns into the slot. I had three books on general astronomy; one of which included stories about the constellations. My concession last week. Zeus was a real jerk, but I adored Athena and Artemis. I still had my book on the structure of the brain in my arms. I’d need to remember to renew that one today before I left.

I gazed longingly at the enormous dictionary sitting on top of the reference shelf. What I wouldn’t give for a beauty like that!

“Just a few minutes,” I whispered to myself. “I’ll grab one of those Sherlock books, and then I’ll look up my words.” Cassie would be lost in the art books for several hours, so there was no need for me to rush my own reading pleasures.

As I made my way over to the Doyle shelf, I got a whiff of old leather. A cozy armchair, with a lamp beside it. It was right under the Holmes books; like it was waiting for me. I ran my fingers over the titles until I found it. A Study in Scarlet. It seemed like a logical decision to begin at the beginning. Curled up on the leather chair, I flipped to the first page. The smell of the old book brought a smile to my face, and I dove in.

“Megs…. Megs….” I blinked and looked up. I glanced at a nearby window, where the rosy glow of sunset seeped through, and then stared blearily at the nearby clock.

“Come on, Meghan, we gotta go or my mom will kill me! We promised her we’d be home for dinner.”
I made a quick pile of my books and rushed over to the checkout counter.

“Mrs. B?” I whispered hoarsely.

“Yes, Meghan?”

“Can you please hold onto these for me for tomorrow? Cassie and I have to get moving. I swear, I’ll be back.” She nodded, and couldn’t hide the pleased smile on her face. Cassie grabbed my arm and hauled me toward the door.


I kept my promise, and spent the week devouring the Sherlock novels one by one. Mrs. Brumacher even let me place her prized dictionary on the floor beside me, rather than run over when I needed to figure out a word. Cassie split her days. Part of the time she sprawled on the floor beside me, and painstakingly sketched copies of artistic works into her own notebook. The other part of the time she wandered in the garden outside the library and drew fairies.

It was in the midst of one of those Sherlock binge days that I first heard them. It sounded like the buzz of the overhead lights, at first. But closer, right over my shoulder. A harsh giggle, but no one was near.

A painful tug on my braid forced my head up, just as a book fell from the shelf. One sharp corner of the book grazed my cheek. Tears filled my eyes, and I put my hand up to feel a drop of blood pooling there. Just as I took a moment to gaze down at the book that was now in my lap, Cassie bolted over and shouted at me.

 “Megs, look! I drew a new one today!”

Whenever she came back inside from the sunlight, I could smell it on her. Not the grass, or the dirt that smudged the knees of her jeans; the actual sunlight itself. It always made me grin. This time, I could also smell the sharp tang of something else – something other. It wiped the grin back off my face.
She showed me the faerie drawing she made while on her garden ramble and I forced a smile. There was no doubt it was beautiful; each sketch was lovelier than the next. I just couldn’t shake the shivery feeling her pictures gave me.

“Oh, Meghan… you do believe me!” She tossed her arms around me and squeezed so hard I could barely breathe.

“What? What are you talking about, Cass?”

She pointed at the book that had fallen into my lap. The cover displayed a girl, about our age, and a small creature with wings. The Coming of the Fairies, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This was what had fallen – or been pushed – into my lap.

From that day on, whenever I went with her I could hear them. Hummingbird wing buzz and screechy high pitched voices that I couldn’t quite understand. They landed on my shoulders and yanked on my hair.

Whenever Cassandra asked me, “Can you see them now, Megs?” I gave the simplest answer I could handle,

“No.” 

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