1. The Pivotal Encounter
Nolan walked up the library stairs, casually taking longer strides-stepping two at time. It must have been years since he had been at the library, he favored reading online.
The sky behind was grey twist, with swirls of blue pushing through and the sun was peeking behind a gust of grey clouds. The gentle rustle of the leaves, and gentle pass of the warm air silently painted the day. It was strange, actually. For the entirety of the past week, storms had dominated the town. Nolan was glad. He wasn’t fond of the umbrella, but was an even lesser of fan sticky clothes.
He pulled the bronze handle to the clear door and stepped inside. Nolan breathed. It smelled of fourteen and fifteen. His high school years, when he would run from school so he could finish his assignments quickly and head to the park. The library was on the way, so going home, doing his homework, then going to the park, seemed unnecessarily tedious. It would also take up more time, he had to be home by 5:30. His father didn’t typically tolerate excuses.
Inhaling the scent of the old carpet and the faint smell of the morning’s coffee, he walked over to the desk closest to the checkout desk. It had a large window in front of it. He would have a view, of a few buildings, but still something. He set his bag down in front of him and looked around. The computers were still lined up against the left wall and the shelves still seemed to be religiously ordered. He remembered Mrs. Finn hated people senselessly moving around books. Where was she? He thought to himself. She wasn’t at counter and he didn’t see her as he walked in. He glanced behind his chair to find Mrs. Finn propped up on a lab chair, hanging up a poster. He noticed that her auburn hair was now streaked with white. It had been a long time. He shrugged to himself and quickly walked over to her.
She was struggling to place a tack on the top right corner.
“Mrs. Finn, ” he smiled “Let me. ”
Mrs. Finn looked down from her heavy rimmed spectacles have Nolan a toothy smile.
“Why if it isn’t Nolan Phillip McArden?” she shoulder Nolan shoulder to steady her “I haven’t seen you here in ages, never came by to say hello, not once.”
Straightening down her plaid dress and adjusting the purple scarf that hung loosely around her neck, she pulled Nolan in for a hug.
Nolan smiled and rubbed the back of his neck. “I am just a horrible, ungrateful person, Mrs. Finn. No excuses. ”
Nolan had spent most of his high school years at the library and Mrs. Finn had always been there with a helping smile. She was an older lady of about 60 years and all her children had moved South.
Mrs. Finn shook her head. “Well, you’re here now, how’s your father and Carol, I saw her a few weeks back, she’s grown up so fast. ” she sighed wrinkling her light eyes.
“They’re doing well, as always, Mrs. Finn. ” he shrugged. “How’s Silly?”
“That crazy, Silly, always up to something. ” she grinned. “She’s almost nine, you know.” He noticed her eyes wander off, deep in thought. Her small face gathered up with furrowed brows.
“It was really nice to see you, Mrs. Finn.” He tapped her shoulder before waving goodbye. He pulled out his phone. It was 2:35. She was late. Nolan didn’t mind. He took a quick glance around the quiet library. It was mostly empty, aside from a few kids sprawled around a table working on trifold. He decided he would find something to read. He was particularly selective about what he read. He mostly read historical accounts, maybe period fiction, and if he felt up to it, science fiction. It just had to be productive. He had to learn something.
He tousled his dark hair and shrugged scanning the History section. He knew most of the authors already, and finally plucked on out, took and hasty look at the cover and walked over to the Politics section.
Glancing at spines of recent political releases, he heard a little boy wailing. He wasn’t a fan of crying children. Carol seldom cried, but when she did, he didn’t take it well. He bent down and eyed the aisle in front of him. There was a little boy, about Carol’s age, with a reddened face and tears rolling down his face. Beside him was a girl. He didn’t see her face since she was facing the shelf of books in front of her. Shrugging, he continued to search the sub section in front of him wondering if Mrs. Finn would come reprimand the boy for being loud. The library was quiet and the only noise was the boy’s loud crying. It was somewhat unsettling. He bent down to inspect political commentaries from the nineties when he heard it.
“Shh,” she began quietly. “Allen, please. I just need to find a copy and we’ll get ice cream and try to find the park. ”
The voice was unfamiliar. It was nice . She sounded young. He knew everyone who had graduated from Oakfield High. Who was she? Nolan bent down once again, she had bent down in front of her brother. He noticed her long brown hair and how it cascaded against her back. The wailing had stopped. She rubbed at his shoulders and whispered something against his forehead as she kissed it. She had finally turned around. She was different. He definitely didn’t know her. She gasped.
“There, ” she pointed at the rack in front of Nolan, or better said the other side of it.
She hadn’t noticed him. She pulled out a book and her eyes gleamed.
“See Allen, were done.” she smiled. The little boy rubbed at his eyes before slightly nodding. “Let’s go take this to the front desk. ”
Nolan quickly grabbed his book and trailed behind. There was something about her, that was different.
The girl stepped up at Mrs. Finn’s checkout desk and he stood behind quietly. He noticed her light blue dress and matching shoes. It looked nice. Glancing up at her again, he heard pieces of her conversation with Mrs. Finn. He had caught that the little boy was her brother and his name was Allen, but had already heard that. She also said that she was new in town and was looking for a job while she took classes at the college.
She spoke so faintly, at times it became hard to hear what she would say. It made sense, she was new in town, that’s why he didn’t know her. That was why. He heard her say goodbye and wave. She turned. That was when he froze. His eyes caught hers and it was like the earth the solar system and all the entire galaxy were at a standstill. There was something in her eyes, something different. She was beautiful, for one. But there was more. There was more to her. She might have noticed his staring because she let out a small smile. His stomach looped and his palms perspired. He needed to know more about her. He just did.