The butcher next door sent us a pot roast for the coming holiday. Luna has it chilling in one of the employee fridges downstairs while she keeps me up on a ladder. I convinced her not to force me to decorate outside, but I have twelve boxes of tinsel and baubles and identical red ribbons to disperse through the library.
There’s three levels for my festive obligation. Two for guests. One for us. Especially funny or slightly inappropriate signs get put in a separate pile to be used in the employee quarters.
Stepping down, I move the ladder over another shelf and then climb back up. I would argue this as an abuse of Luna’s employer rights to have me on a ladder in the middle of the night making this place a holiday wonderland before the children and avid readers can come back tomorrow, but I don’t really mind. She’s done too much for me since my head injury. I’ve had amnesia for well over a year now with no indication that I’m ever going to remember what my life was like before she took pity on me and gave me a job and a purpose at this quaint library.
Luna broke a lot of rules to get me in here. I didn’t have any legal identification to submit. I don’t even remember getting here, but when I told her she didn’t have to help me, she just smiled and promised that this kind of thing was what librarians lived for.
There’s a couple of other employees who fill in throughout the week, but it’s usually just the two of us here. I really wouldn’t have it any other way. The others are fine. The readers are nice. But Luna is the best.
I don’t know how to put it into words. I get a warm, fuzzy sensation in my chest when I look at her in her oversized, purple sweater and round golden glasses. Her hair is always thrown into a messy bun to keep it out of her eyes while she reads and bustles around this place. The library wouldn’t stand without Luna. I swear some of the books lean out of their shelves and peek at her in the same way I do whenever she walks by on a mission to another part of this old place.
That’s her. I swivel to find her with her arms wrapped around yet another box. Through the partically open flaps, I can see that this one is full of stars in a million sparkling colors.
“I’m so sorry, but I just found this one downstairs. Do you think you could do them across the ceiling in the children’s reading area?”
She could ask me to catch and slay a dragon and I would say yes. Nodding down to her, I give a thumbs up. The work truly doesn’t matter. I get to do it in this place with her and that makes me so bloody happy.
“I have one more favor to ask,” she calls up to me after I turn back around to finish securing my tinsel.
“Yes,” I answer, eyes forward on the sparkling bits of plastic that seem to bring our readers far too much happiness.
She lets out a giggle, her simple mirth-filled sound infectious as I let myself blow out a chuckle. “I didn’t even ask it yet. How do you know the answer is yes?”
Turning back around, I grin down at her. “It’s always yes, Luna. Whatever you need.”
Her lips twist as she squints up at me. “What if I asked you to clean the toilets?”
I shrug. “Yes.”
“Or I told you I needed you to scrape the pigeon droppings from the roof?”
“Yes,” I’m barely holding in laughter as I step down the ladder.
When I’m on solid ground once more, I step over a couple of boxes to share the same small aisle with her. We’re shoulder to shoulder with the contemporary and historical romance novels. Dozen of tiny eyes stare at us from the shelves as I wait for her next question.
She steps back a step, some of the joy of the moment fading from her eyes. “You’re too nice, Liam.”
“I don’t see how that would be a problem.”
She rakes her fingers back through her frizzy hair. “Of course you don’t know it’s a problem. That’s the whole tragic flaw in your character.”
Usually, I wouldn’t think twice about the odd way Luna speaks. She lives in these shelves and breathes the air of these old books every single day. Literature is in her veins. She makes odd comparisons to novels all the time.
She’s not usually upset about it, though.
So, instead of doing the smart thing and letting this go, I push her to explain. She lets out a strangled sigh and starts to walk away, muttering that she can’t tell me the truth without telling me the truth and I have no idea what that means.
Abandoning the decorations, I follow her past the fantasy books and the horror novels and the poetry section on the way to the employee stairwell. She’s already through the door, the heavy thing thudding shut behind her before I can grab it. I watch her brown hair bob as she takes the stairs two at a time in a near jog away from me.
I can’t leave her to just be upset. Maybe I am too nice, but she’s done a thousand tiny things for me since I stumbled into this little town with nothing except the clothes on my body. She even converted one of the office spaces downstairs into a bedroom for me to use while I try to figure out who I am. Nobody accepts the credit of a person without photo identification or a birth certificate. Without Luna, I wouldn’t have a place to stay or a place to work or a purpose in this world.
I think it’s only right that I’m too nice in return.
Taking my time going down the stairs, the worn handles sliding easily under my fingertips, I amble down to the employee area. I don’t have to look around for her. She’s going to be in her personal library. The little room has enough space for two shelves packed with books that are out of print or too battered to be put back out on the floor and her reading chair. It’s her place of comfort. It’s the one place she could try to lock me out of since I have a set of keys to the rest of the doors.
As suspected, the door is shut and locked when I make it down the hall. Letting my forehead rest on the cool wood, I try to listen for any sounds from the other side. There’s some rustling. Perhaps she’s already flopped into her chair with a favorite book and she’s trying to find that one specific page that brings her joy.
No matter what’s happening in there, we still need to talk. I’m not going back up that ladder until I know she’s okay and she tells me what exactly I did to cause this reaction.
The door flings open before I can get her name out of my mouth. Stumbling forward, I fall into her and the book shoved my way. She’s talking before I can steady myself or get out the next question.
“You don’t have amnesia, Liam.”
That has my attention. The old book now in my hands has no cover. It’s just a green volume with wrinkled yellow pages. Nothing special at first glance, but clearly loved by its weathered condition.
“Of course I do. I didn’t even know my name when I got here.”
She shakes her head, her eyes too wide behind her lenses. “You’re not a real person.”
Maybe she had too much spiced eggnog. This is getting increasingly worrying. I don’t have a question at the front of my mind. Well, more honestly, I have a hundred questions, but I can’t figure out how to form any of them into words before she lets out an exasperated moan and snatches the book back out of my hands.
Ripping it open, she flips through it until she finds whatever she’s looking for and then shoves it back in my direction. Her pink, painted nail points to a sketch with a single word caption: Liam.
That’s my name. That’s certainly a drawing of my face. I trace the jawline and the nose before glancing towards her.
“What is this?”
“You were so nice,” she remarks again, her voice too high pitched. “But the writer gave you a terrible end and I just wanted to help.”
I’m not following this conversation. “This is a book, Luna. Just a story. It looks like me, but I’m sure it’s a coincidence and-.”
She shakes her head. “Just listen. It is you. You don’t really think you just stumbled by my library and then I took you in, do you?”
Of course I do. That’s been my daily background for the last year. I’ve lost my mind and Luna took pity on me and I work really hard to make sure she understands that I appreciate her.
When I don’t answer, she scrambles to continue, “Okay. I know this sounds crazy, but magic is real. Most people don’t believe it and they probably won’t ever see it, but I can and I found a spell in one of these books,” she flings her hand behind her to draw my attention to the haphazard stack of ragged volumes. “I used it. On you. And now you’re in this world instead of dying in this book.”
Oh. Okay. That seems perfectly logical. I keep my sarcasm tucked behind my locked jaw as I continue to stare at her.
“You can say something now,” she prompts, her fingers curling into nervous fists at her sides.
“I don’t know what you want me to say.”
She sighs. “You don’t believe me, do you?”
I shrug. “I think you think this happened, but it’s been a really long day and we should probably get some rest be-.”
Luna isn’t sticking around to hear what I have to say. Turning away from me, she grabs her reading chair and, using the full force of her petite frame, drags it away from the center of the space. I want to ask what she’s doing, but I don’t need to. There’s a hidden door.
Opening it, she steps down onto the ladder. “I wasn’t going to tell you anything, but the magic has gotten out of hand and there’s a leak and I can’t just keep this a secret forever.”
I stay in the main room, holding the book with my face and leaning over to try to see into her secret space. She’s back up in a minute, a wire cage in her hand. “Page 67, Liam.”
I don’t have to turn the pages to know what she has trapped in that very small cage. “So, dragons are real?”
With a skittish nod, she climbs off of the ladder and sits on the floor with the scaly creature tucked onto her lap. I sink down to be across from her as she tells me the story of how her magic escaped and I’m now not the only fictional character to make my way into this world — her world.
“I’m sure you’re upset and confused and I completely understand, but you’re kind of the only person I can ask to help me.”
She’s right. What I thought would be a typical day has now been flipped upside down and shaken around for good measure. That doesn’t change anything between us, though.
Reaching across, I let the lizard with wings smell my fingers while I look ahead to the girl who brought a book to life. “Yes. I’ll help you.”
I had no idea what I was writing when Bridgette sent me this prompt. I usually have no idea, but this vague “day in the life” prompt really threw a wrench at my personal muse. Tossing aside my usual vampires, I had to search for someone with a more interesting spark.
Liam is a character I once wrote an entire Hallmark-esque novel about ten years ago. He’s a hero in every sense of the word. Got the girl, saved the day, did everything he had to in order to fill his position. I just don’t love writing contemporary romance, so threw the book in a dark drawer to rot while I wrote about vampires and danger.
I think he’s going to be amazing in this magic filled fantasy alongside Luna the librarian/amateur witch.
Thanks for coming this week! Please leave your comments and thoughts in the section below. Reader insight is the best motivation to moving forward with these different projects.
As always, check out Bridgette’s story as well: Under the Sign
And catch up on Lore here: Lore by Angelica Reece
We’ll see you next week 🙂