Chapter no 9 – Librarian

The Midnight Library

‘Please. You have to be careful.’

e woman had arrived seemingly from nowhere. Smartly dressed, with short grey hair and a turtle-green polo neck jumper. About sixty, if Nora had to pin it down.

‘Who are you?’

But before she had finished the question, she realised she already knew the answer.

‘I’m the librarian,’ the woman said, coyly. ‘at is who.’

Her face was one of kind but stern wisdom. She had the same neat cropped grey hair she’d always had, with a face that looked precisely as it always did in Nora’s mind.

For there, right in front of her, was her old school librarian. ‘Mrs Elm.’

Mrs Elm smiled, thinly. ‘Perhaps.’

Nora remembered those rainy aernoons, playing chess.

She remembered the day her father died, when Mrs Elm gently broke the news to her in the library. Her father had died suddenly of a heart attack while on the rugby field of the boys’ boarding school where he taught. She was numb for about half an hour, and had stared blankly at the unfinished game of chess. e reality was simply too big to absorb at first, but then it had hit her hard and sideways, taking her off the track she’d known. She had hugged Mrs Elm so close, crying into her polo neck until her face was raw from the fusion of tears and acrylic.

Mrs Elm had held her, stroking and smoothing the back of her head like a baby, not oering platitudes or false comforts or anything other than

concern. She remembered Mrs Elm’s voice telling her at the time: ‘ings will get better, Nora. It’s going to be all right.’

It was over an hour before Nora’s mother came to pick her up, her brother stoned and numb in the backseat. And Nora had sat in the front next to her mute, trembling mother, saying that she loved her, but hearing nothing back.

‘What is this place? Where am I?’

Mrs Elm smiled a very formal kind of smile. ‘A library, of course.’

‘It’s not the school library. And there’s no exit. Am I dead? Is this the aerlife?’

‘Not exactly,’ said Mrs Elm. ‘I don’t understand.’

en let me explain.’

You'll Also Like