Author’s Note: This story was partially inspired by #11 of Michelle Cook’s January Writing Prompts and #9 of Brynn Donovan’s 50 Young Adult Plot Ideas and Writing Prompts. When I read Bryn’s list, #9 leapt out at me and pestered me to do something with it. So, I decided to combine it with #11 of Michelle’s January Writing Prompts and ta-da! Here it is…
There was one spot in the whole library that was perfectly designed for undisturbed reading and/or daydreaming. It was located in the far southern corner, just on the other side of the Paint Dries aisle. No one ever went down there. Not even novice painters.
So, Heather had it all to herself.
It was a fairly standard nook, but it had a bay window that overlooked the water fountain display behind the building. Sometimes if Heather closed her eyes and listened hard enough, she could hear the music of the waters falling. The cushioned window seat was the perfect size. She could sit on it with her knees all bunched up or she could do a full stretch out on it, if she so desired.
No one else knew about it.
No one else ever sat there.
It was her refuge from the non-library world.
From political ads.
From eating Brussel sprouts.
From all of those small things that seem so big to a child’s point of view.
No one could find her there in her nook.
No one could hurt her.
She was safe and above it all.
It was her haven.
Her second floor aerie.
It was her safe place for three whole years.
In happy secret loops and wheels of time.
In between chores and homework and errands to be run.
Spinning and twirling through books and their seductive words.
She sat in her window seat and traveled through vast worlds that had sprung wholesale from strangers’ minds. These strangers spoke to her in words from another time and place. They made her believe in the reality of their characters. She laughed for them and cried for them. She pined for them when their stories were ended.
She longed for more.
Always so much more.
Yet, she was content.
It all changed and crashed in mid-November.
Heather ran into the library. The cold rain dripped off the ends of her hair and puddled as she ran to the stairs.
Taking the elevator would be faster, but she always took the stairs. The oak staircase was solid and beautiful. It was a pleasure to look at, with its rippled carvings and the worn-out red carpet. The librarians always talked about replacing the carpet, but Heather hoped that they never would. The carpet belonged to the stairs and the stairs belonged to the carpet. They had grown old together. To replace the carpet would be much like replacing a man’s wife.
It just shouldn’t be done.
She ran up the stairs, counting them in her head as her feet hit each one, two, three, four, five, six, landing. Turn left and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, top floor.
She glanced around as she always did to make sure that no one was watching her.
No one was.
No one ever did.
She kicked off her shoes, picked them up, and ran to her nook. Anne of Avonlea was lying in the nook waiting for her return.
And so was someone else.
Her hands went numb.
Her shoes fell out of her hands.
A boy was slouching on HER window seat in HER nook. His brown hair was too brown and too long. It didn’t belong in her nook. He didn’t belong in her nook.
His hair curtained his face and draped over his shoulders.
“Your hair needs a cutting.”
He lazily swept his hair out of his dark blue eyes. “So?”
“And you need to leave.”
She gaped as she recognized the book he was reading — Anne of Avonlea. HER Anne of Avonlea. “That’s MY book.”
He checked the inside cover. “Nope. Doesn’t have your name in it.”
She could feel her oasis dry up. Her paradise became wrecked with disease and pollution and ruin.
This can’t be happening.
“This is my nook. You need to leave it.”
He smirked and it made her want to punch him. “No. This is the library’s nook.”
Shock pummeled her, leaving her dizzy and out of sorts.
“Now, go away. I’m reading.”
“No, you’re not.”
He laughed and returned his attention to the book in his hands.
Heather fidgeted irritably. “Boys don’t like L.M. Montgomery books. They like…”
He lowered his book and stared at her with his teasing blue eyes.
What do boys like?
“I don’t know. Books about trucks and motorcycles and tattoos and—-”
He laughed. A genuine, I’m-going-to-crack-my-ribs-from-laughing-too-hard kind of laugh.
She stared at him. “What? That’s what boys like. I know these things.”
He wiped away his happy tears. “You don’t know anything.”
Her body jumped into action before her mind could calm it with reason. She punched him.
He rubbed his jaw. “Nice punch. But I could do better.”
She backed away from him in a panic. “If you punch me—”
“Why would I do that? I’m just saying that your punch could be better. You need to put more power into it. Let it come from higher up, not just in your forearm.” Self-satisfied with his advice, he returned to Prince Edward Island, mentally abandoning her.
There was nothing more that she could say.
She retreated, determined to reclaim her spot when tomorrow came.
Tomorrow came and so did he.
He came the next day and the next day.
And the next day.
Finally, she decided that enough was enough. She would reclaim her nook from this galoot of a kid.
She mentally prepared herself for battle and headed for the library.
He was there.
But he was not reading.
He sat on the window seat. His legs were in a disorderly state – one leg was resting on the seat, the other hung towards the floor.
He looked out the window, lost in his thoughts.
I am Joan of Arc, fighting for my homeland.
She straightened her posture and cleared her throat.
He didn’t react, which annoyed her.
She could have left him to his thoughts, but no. She was determined to make her presence known.
She grabbed a nearby book and thwacked his head.
He looked up at her as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. He smiled. “I’ve been thinking. I’ve read so many books. I want to write my own. Would you be willing to help me?”
“Help you? Why would I want to help you?”
He smiled devilishly. “Because if you do, I’ll surrender your nook. Or we could make it our noo—”
“No. Not happening. This nook is mine.”
“It will be only mine unless you help me.”
“Why don’t you just help yourself? Writing isn’t that hard.”
He shrugged. “But I have no one to read it too. I want to make sure it sounds good. I want to know—-”
“Because you love books as much as I do and you are terribly opinionated.” He grinned. “You won’t flatter me or say fluffy lies to make me feel good. If my stories are awful, you’ll tell me. I know you will. So? Do you want to help me?”
Heather thought about it.
“I’ll teach you a proper punching technique.”
She grabbed his hand and shook it. “Deal.”