Chapter 1: Lance
“Um…excuse me, my Lord?” Mary, my assistant inquired trying to shyly get my attention.
“Mary, how times do I have to remind you? It’s Lance in non-professional settings,” I remind her politely.
“Right, sorry,” she apologized quickly. “Lance, I wanted to inquire about your opinion on who to hire for the new head librarian.”
“I thought I entrusted that decision to you,” I reply, looking up from my paperwork. “What’s wrong?”
“Uhh, I have a candidate that I like for the job but, there might be one slight… inconvenience with him?” she replies.
“What’s that exactly?” I ask.
“He’s in a wheelchair,” Mary replies nervously.
“And your point? How is that an inconvenience?” I question.
“Cliff said it would be and it would prevent him from doing his job,” Mary explains.
“Don’t listen to Cliff, this is your decision and we both know Cliff wants the job and we both know he’s not ready for it. If you believe he’s the best candidate, hire him, I’ll deal with Cliff,” I answer.
Cliff was the librarian assistant, he’d been working here for two years but he wasn’t very organized or good with teamwork.
“Right, thank you, sir. I mean, Lance,” she replies attempting to hide the professional terms again.
She exited my office quickly and I sighed and stretched tired from filling out paperwork. It was vital but boring work. I could see the sun starting to set outside my window. I organized my papers, moved the ones I was done with so someone could take them away out of the way to be filed or mailed and left my office.
I ended up at the front gate and saw Mary and a man in a wheelchair saying goodbye to each other. I wonder what decision Mary had made. I didn’t get a good look at the man’s face as he rolled away down the sidewalk. Mary noticed me when she turned back. She smiled and hurried away to other duties she had.
I guess I’d know her decision tomorrow. I moved on to my bedroom to retire for the night. But someone came knocking. I opened the door mildly annoyed but not surprised to find Cliff with an annoyed look as well.
“You let Mary hire the paraplegic?” he exclaimed.
“You do realize he has a name, you could at least have some respect and use it,” I counter even more annoyed that he was talking about someone he barely knew by using their defining feature rather than their name.
“Fine, then. Why did you let her hire Cyrus?” he growled.
“I didn’t let her do anything. It wasn’t a pity thing. She felt he was the best candidate, I told her if she felt that way she should hire him then. It was never my decision, it was Mary’s,” I answer.
“What about me?” he counters.
“We all know you wouldn’t make a good head librarian,” I answered bluntly.
I’d always been nothing but polite to Cliff.
“Why?” he asks.
“You’ve only been here two years, which one, is half the time any of the senior members of the library have been working here, I know none of them want the position, but that doesn’t automatically mean it goes to you. You are disorganized and you are definitely not a team leader,” I explain.
“How?” he asks.
“How are you not a team leader?” I reply. “For example, right now. A team leader wouldn’t be discriminating against someone for just being in a wheelchair. You didn’t respect him, you called him a paraplegic rather than using his name, I could go on,” I replied not taking my eyes off of him.
He gritted his teeth and left silently clearly still angered.
Ever since Cliff had been hired I and him walked a fine line, I had hired him because I felt bad for him, he’d had a difficult life. He started out in a lower-class family and neighbourhood and had used dirty moves to get ahead in life but I felt sorry for him and wanted to help him, but he acted like everyone around him was competition and not a friend or co-worker or ally.
I crashed after I settled into bed, today had been a long day and so would tomorrow and the next, and the next. They always seemed long when then were barely any distractions or breaks. My parents had been trying to set me up recently, find me someone who I liked and settle down with, eventually. But no one had struck me, it probably didn’t help that they were trying to find someone appropriate, status-wise and with how much power not only I had, but these people had, it wouldn’t surprise me if none of them interested me.
I wanted someone who loved me, not my position, power or what it could do for them. It didn’t help me when I wasn’t leaning toward the gender of the candidates they were choosing, mainly women. I had nothing against them but none of them had been my type.
When I woke up the next morning, I ate breakfast and walked to the library to pick up some materials I needed to read and study. When I walked into the library, Cliff was glaring at me from one of the library shelves up on a ladder putting books away and I was reminded of our fight yesterday.
I disappeared into the stacks quickly to get out of his line of sight. I found the section I was looking for and started looking for the material.
Cyrus rolled into the aisle from the other end with a box of books on his lap. He had shoulder-length brown, wavy hair and pale green eyes. He had a pin-stripe white and blue button-up shirt underneath a burgundy vest and black dress pants on. Not the fanciest of clothing but if I wasn’t out in the town publicly or at an important event I didn’t dress that nice either. I looked back at the bookshelf still trying to locate the material which I still couldn’t seem to find. It was always here, had someone else taken it out already?
I looked down the aisle and saw Cyrus attempting to reach up and put a book back on its shelf just slightly out of his reach. I approached him slowly, trying not to scare him.
“Let me help,” I offered politely, holding out my hand offering to put the book on the shelf. He glances over at me, I don’t know if he expected Cliff or if he recognized me or what.
Eventually, he holds out the book to me but what looks like the acceptance of defeat is in his eyes. I just wanted to help, I didn’t want him to feel inferior because he needed help. I couldn’t run this land without help even if I was the highest person in power aside from the King.
“Thank you,” he replies politely once the book is back on its shelf.
“Do you happen to know where this book is?” I question, handing him the piece of paper I’d written the name of the material on.
He takes the paper and looks at the title. He starts looking through the box of books, until he locates the small book leaning against one of the walls of the box.
“Here you go,” he replies and places the rest of the books securely and organized back in the box.
“Thank you, Cyrus” I reply.
“You’re welcome,” he replies, rolling past me down the aisle, he still sounds defeated as if Cliff had already cut into him with comments and he felt they were right. I don’t know if he even realized I used his name without him telling me.
Everyone needed help every once in a while, including Cliff, so he had no right to comment on someone’s ability to do something independently. Cliff apparently, still hadn’t learned when to keep things to himself either apparently, or maybe Cyrus just sensed it with him, it wasn’t like he didn’t make it obvious.
I took the novel and checked it out and brought it back to my office. I got more paperwork done that day and took the novel back to the library at the end of the day. Cliff was gone but Cyrus seemed to be finishing up.
“What happened to Cliff? Why isn’t he still here?” I question, a little angered by the fact that he’d leave Cyrus here by himself. Another example of how he wasn’t a team player or leader.
“I told him he could go, I don’t think he’s too fond of me anyway,” he replies. “Bringing this back so soon, the due date’s not for another five days,” he continues gesturing towards the book.
“I got my work done, if someone else needs it they can use it, plus it would probably just get buried under all my paperwork if I didn’t,” I reply.
They always did when I was younger and less organized and Mary would have to come through looking for all the late books hiding in my office.
He scanned the book and put it back in the returned and restock bin for tomorrow. I don’t know if he didn’t see my name or didn’t care when he scanned it.
I wanted to cheer Cyrus up after a bad first day at work. I decided to take him to the royal garden which was in full bloom with cherry blossom trees this time of year.
“Are you almost done? I want to show you something,” I continued, glancing over the desk at him.
“I really should be getting back to my quarters after work,” he replied.
Most of my employees lived in castle quarters, it posed less of a security risk because we didn’t have to let them in every morning and it made getting to work easier for them.
“It won’t take long, I promise,” I add quickly.
He looked back up at me from his work, maybe trying to gauge my honesty, to make sure I wasn’t like Cliff. To make sure this wasn’t some horrible prank and he was going to get hurt somehow.
I don’t know what he saw reflected in my eyes, I didn’t know if he could read people as well as I could, as a person in power I had to be good at gauging people’s intentions or I or my people could get hurt.
“Okay, give me a few minutes,” he replied, sighing.
He finishes on the computer and logs out and files some more papers and puts the books in the right places so they can be put back on the shelf tomorrow or picked up by the people who need them before we make the walk to the front door of the library. I open it for him and he rolls out into the hall. I let the door shut behind us and he locks it.
“Where are we going?” he asks.
“You’ll see,” I reply a little excited.
The garden was beautiful this time of year. I hoped he’d like it, or that it cheered him up a bit at least.
I led the way but not too far in front of him, I didn’t want him to feel slow or tire him out by going too fast. When I reached the door, I stopped and waited for him.
“You ready?” I question.
“I guess,” he replies.
I open the door and sunlight streams in through the greenhouse glass surrounding the garden. I step inside and he rolls in carefully behind me as if he’s going to hurt or damage the flowers with his wheelchair.
“Why are we here?” he asks looking around cautiously.
“What do you mean? It’s a beautiful place,” I reply looking from a cherry blossom branch to him.
“You didn’t bring me here to show me how perfect and beautiful everything here is compared to me?” he questions.
“What? No!” I answered shocked taking a cherry blossom off the branch and going back to him.
I knelt down and stuck the cherry blossom above his ear.
“We’re all beautiful in our own way, our beauty doesn’t disappear when you take away part of us,” I continue.
He blushes at my comment before looking away. It was cute.
“Won’t the prince get angry if you pick his flowers?” he asks taking the cherry blossom off of his ear and holding it in his hand.
“The garden’s beauty is for everyone to enjoy not just him, plus he’s got so many, do you really think he’s going to miss one?” I comment, if he hadn’t made the connection yet, he didn’t need to know yet.
He might think I had ulterior motives if he knew who I was, and I didn’t. I just wanted to make him feel better.
I noticed tears in his eyes.
“Cyrus, you okay?” I ask, quietly leaning closer.
“Yeah, you’re just a really nice person,” he replied wiping his tears.
“You know my name, do I get to know yours?” he asks once he’s calmed down again.
“Ryan,” I lie.
If he thought about it, he’d figure it out eventually, “Ryan” meant young royalty.
I didn’t want him to think it was my duty to respect him because I was royalty, all people no matter their status should have the common sense to respect each other.
“It was nice meeting you, Ryan. Thank you for bringing me here but I should be getting back to my quarters, it’s been a long day,” he replies.
“See you around, Cyrus,” I reply and watch him roll away.