Chapter 1 - The Encounter
“I’m going to the library Jen, why don’t you come with me?” Lianne asked her best friend as she twirled the phone wire gently with her finger. She was leaning against the edge of the peninsula in her kitchen, wearing only a skimpy short and a tank top.
“Nah, I don’t think so. You know very well I’m not into reading books, Lianne, but if you can spot me some cute guy in the library, then I might consider going with you next time, ” Jen replied, humor coloring her tone.
Lianne sighed and rolled her eyes.
“Well, suit yourself. I’m going now. I’ve got to return some books I borrowed there and maybe check out another, but don’t worry I might spot a cute guy for you.”
She softly chuckled.
At the other end of the line, Lianne then heard a loud ‘Yes!’ in response.
She ran upstairs into her bedroom right after putting the phone down and whipped up a fashionable match of clothes suitable for a library visit. Thereafter, she took three books she used for her History thesis and placed it on a paper bag. It was still ten o’clock in the morning, but it looked like it was going to rain sometime soon based on the gloomy atmosphere outside.
Just before she could exit the bedroom, wind rushed through the window and softly blew the curtains up. Upon seeing this, it instantly made her feel awkward again, the same feeling she had been having since three days ago; that certain feeling that troubled her heart for some reason.
Dismissing it with a deep breath, she then continued her way down the stairs, taking her shoulder bag labelled Hermes with her as she passed by the console table, then locked the main door of her apartment.
After a few minutes of waiting on the roadway, a cab approached her.
“To where are we going, Miss?” the cab driver asked with an Asian accent, his eyes directed on her reflection in the mirror when she climb in.
“To the Fortville City Library, Sir, ” Lianne replied.
Twenty minutes later, she arrived at the entrance gate of the place. Before she stepped down the cab, she adjusted the voile scarf around her neck, expecting a gush of wind to welcome her. She wore a white floral dress, above-the-knee in length, coupled with a pair of brown ankle boots and a brown leather jacket.
Staring at the sky, she smiled. This kind of weather would indeed suit best with a book in hand.
When she was about to enter the library’s gate, she looked up and noticed a figure of a man wearing a black coat with its collar adjusted up, standing at the porch of the library’s second floor. He stood there just looking at the pine trees in front of the library. His dark brown hair tousled after being blown by the strong wind.
It took her by surprise when he suddenly looked into her direction and at that moment, their eyes met. She speedily looked away, blushing faintly, and quickly walked towards the entrance door embracing the paper bag she had been holding.
“Hello Madame Sella, good morning, ” Lianne said, greeting sweetly the lady librarian as she took out the books from the paper bag and placed it on the countertop.
Madame Sella was in her forties but still single. A kind woman in her own way, she was like Lianne’s adviser of problems; almost like a mother she never had.
“Oh, hello dear. You’ve come to return those books back I see, ” the lady librarian answered. “What good timing. There were two students that kept on coming back here every hour checking if there is an available book of this edition already returned. It seems they needed it that much.”
“Really?” Lianne exclaimed. “Oh, I think they are from my class too. Our History teacher actually gave us a project of making a thesis about these books when there are only just ten copies and he has forty students! He really wants us to push the limits I guess.”
“It sure looks like it, ” Madame Sella replied, smiling. “Here, sign this.” She handed her the borrowing card and pointed a space for her to sign.
Lianne scribbled her name neatly in cursive style.
“Here, thanks, ” she said and then handed the card back to her.
The librarian sweetly smiled in response. “Wait, I have something for you.” She reached down for her table drawer and then pulled out a small piece of folded paper with Lianne’s name written on the front.
Lianne gave her a confused look. “What is this Madame Sella?
“There, I have given it to you, ” the librarian announced. “It is from a man that came here an hour ago. He said that I should give this to you when you arrive. He looked kind of in a hurry though that’s why I wasn’t able to ask him his name or ask if he is your friend. But seeing that you’re so beautiful, I bet he is one of your admirers at the university. He is one good looking gentleman, my dear. You’re going to like him, ” Madame Sella teasingly remarked.
Lianne, on the other hand, shyly blushed and then hurriedly took the piece of paper from her grasp.
“Uh, right. Thank you Madame Sella.” She gestured with her head to the stairs and continued, “I’ll be on my favorite side of the library again if you need me.”
The librarian just smiled again and nodded.
Lianne was bewildered, looking at the folded paper on her hand. This was the first time ever she received something like this. Mostly her friend, Jen, would be the common target of these love notes - if that was how she’d call it - and not her. What was more unusual was that it has her name written on it.
She headed to the second floor of the library and turned towards the south wing part, but before she could reach her favorite place, her eyes caught a glimpse of the library’s porch and remembered about the man she saw there.
He wasn’t standing on the area anymore.
Shrugging the disappointment away, she continued to walk until she reached the sofa chair. She placed the shoulder bag on it and sat, opening the paper with curiosity.
But instantly, tears streamed down her cheeks.
She didn’t understand why but for some reason it pricked her heart real good.
‘Why do I feel this way?’ Lianne asked herself as she gazed at the painstaking words in the paper.
‘Find me in your dreams.’
It didn’t bring any memories for her. Memories that might be possibly connected to the words. Her mind was blank, lost, empty, unable to cultivate explanations for this simple, but lingering sentence.
She was so engrossed staring at the words that she didn’t notice someone approaching her. She snapped out when a hand brushed her tears away. Looking up, she quickly recognized the person touching her. It was Madame Sella.
“It seems the content of that paper made you cry huh?” she asked with a kind smile. She turned to the side and pointed her fingers towards the porch of the library. “The man that handed me that has just gone outside of the library. I didn’t notice he was inside the library this whole time. He is wearing a black coat. I thought you might want to know who your admirer is.”
Stunned by the librarian’s statement, Lianne immediately stood up.
She does want to know what he looked like.
He might be just some random guy in school or her classmate, but when Madame Sella said that he was wearing a black coat, it caught her attention. She wanted to make sure who he was so she darted out of the sofa and ran to the porch still holding the paper.
The wind strongly blew hard on her face when she peeked below the porch and there she saw him, walking calmly, heading for the gate.
Her breath was caught in her throat. She wanted to shout. Call for him. But she stiffened on the spot.
All of a sudden, the man turned and faced the porch where Lianne was. At that moment, their eyes met again but this time she didn’t look away.
He gazed at her with such intensity as if there was some telepathic message behind it. She just stood there mystified by it, still confused who he was but felt she had met him somewhere, like a déjà vu feeling. Her heart pounded hard on her chest and it gave her the courage speak.
“You...” she stammered, “you there! Who are you?! Why did you give this to me?!” She held the piece of paper up and waited, but he didn’t respond. Instead, his lips tugged upward to show a small smile.
His silence annoyed her, but she was held back by his smile.
Still without a word, the man continued to walk towards the entrance gate.
“Hey!” she shouted in distress.
Upon seeing him go, Lianne hastily dashed down the stairs in the hope that she could reach him on time.
Picking up her breathing, she turned in a corner and then ran to the hallway towards the entrance door. However, upon arriving there, he was nowhere in sight. She scanned the whole area, and even went as far as the entrance gate to look for him, but it was in vain.
He emitted a mysterious aura in him. As far as she could remember, it would be their first time meeting, but it was rather unusual because he looked at her like he had known her for so long.
It was thirty past five in the afternoon when she arrived in the front yard of her apartment. This time, the rain did pour down hard. Now, her floral dress was slightly wet and her long ash-brown hair damp.
She took out the keys from her shoulder bag and unlocked the main door.
The apartment was given to her by her Aunt Marge after she graduated high school. Taking up Literature and Classics as her major at the age of twenty-four, she was already independent in all aspects of her life. Her parents died of a plane crash when she was six, after which her auntie took her in and sponsored her studies. After her aunt married a British man, she moved in to Wales and decided to give the apartment to her. Now, Lianne was the owner of the apartment, living alone but that didn’t bother her.
She went inside and placed her bag beside the flower vase at the console table and proceeded to close the main door.
Glancing briefly outside, she then noticed a dark silhouette of a man standing under an acorn tree across the street of her apartment. She didn’t clearly see who it was but when a car illuminated the man’s features, she was stunned to see that this was the man she saw at the library, wearing the same black coat.
‘It’s him!’ she exclaimed in her thoughts. Has he been following me this whole time?
It may have sounded stalker-ish, but her heart leaped in thrill.
She stepped out of the main door, wanting to talk to him, but when the next car passed by, he disappeared like he was a ghost.
Lianne released a long sigh then. ‘Shit. Am I seeing things now?’ she asked herself.
Confused by the events during the day, she then remembered the words written on the paper and immediately, her heart ached and tears streamed down her cheeks again.