It was kind of creepy the way she held her finger to her mouth and stared me in the eye. Just that blank stare and silent gesture that instantly made me sit up straighter and listen for words that were unspoken. She taps her heels on the floor to get my attention. Her hair pulled back in a loose bun, a couple of tendrils falling over the edge of her glasses, she looked over the top of them to make eye contact with me. Her finger perfectly manicured but no jewelry, just a simple watch on her wrist. Her lips a very light pink, but she made no attempt to make the pucker often seen when someone is trying to say shhhh. After what seemed like an overly extended look and pause she returned her eyes down through her glasses to the book she was reading. The title hidden against the desk. I could not take my eyes off her perfect posture and her classic style of dress; a black pencil skirt with a white blouse and black heels. She had this all knowing look of wisdom and yet something made me feel uneasy. I moved to leave the large table I was sitting at to walk towards her desk. I felt drawn to her. As I approached, her eyes did not leave her book, but I knew she was very aware of my movement.
I stopped at the shelf closest to her desk and pretended to scan the books. She suddenly snapped her head from the book she was reading and looked at her watch. Her movement startled me and I quickly grabbed the first book from the shelf that caught my attention. She rose from her seat as an older lady approached, a few soft whispers were exchanged and the older lady took the seat behind the desk. I had to follow, she grabbed her jacket, shoved her book in her bag, and headed for the exit of the building.
I watched her go out the door and down the steps before I left the exit myself. She walked quickly in the heels and was pretty far ahead of me; it was like she was on a mission. I looked down the first street to my left to see her already two blocks down and turning to go inside an apartment building. It was one of those beautiful buildings with the large windows and I could see her just inside the ground floor apartment. She seemed so upset, dropping her bag to the floor, she leaned her back against the wall sliding down with her head in her hands as if she were sobbing. Books and plants lined the window ledges and made it hard to see. I instantly felt uneasy about myself for having followed her this far. What am I a stalker? I turned to walk back from where I came. The wind blew so cold through me and I pulled my coat tighter. I stopped to grab a coffee before arriving at my own apartment. I was so cold from the walk I decided to take a hot shower and change into some comfortable clothes. I crawled into my bed and quickly drifted off to sleep.
Sundays are my favorites. This is my first weekend, in I don’t know how long, that I have completely to myself. I grab an apple from the bowl in my kitchen and decide to actually check-out a book at the library today, instead of just being a weirdo watcher. Laughing and shaking my head at my own ridiculous behavior the day before. As I walk, I realize it is probably too early for the library to be open just yet and I feel my curiosity take over again. I take the detour down her street. I stroll along the opposite side of the street from her apartment and lean against the tree across from her window. She appears with her bag, a travel mug and a newspaper. Her face intently looking at the paper as she walks to work, so absorbed in whatever she is reading that she doesn’t notice me in step with her on the opposite side.
She suddenly turns to go inside a small door in the alley off her street. I cross to follow her without thinking. The bell of the door dings as I enter. Where did she go? Hello? My own voice sounding so foreign. Sirens from outside jolt me back to reality, what am I doing? I quickly turn back to the front of the shop and run out the door so fast I can barely hear the bell in the wind. A cold gust hits me in the face, chilling me to the bone. As I walk to the end of the street I feel sick and dizzy. I want to go home but the library is closer. As I go up the stairs and through the entrance I rush to the bathroom and run warm water over my hands. The warmth of the water is soothing and I take deep breaths, in through my nose and out through my mouth.
After I calm down, I walk to the same shelf I pretended to scan the day before and grab the book with the dark blue cover and gold writing that had caught my attention. The older librarian is sitting at the desk and looks like she is almost asleep. I decide this book of poetry will be interesting for the day while soaking in a hot bath and drinking hot tea. I absolutely hate winter and being cold. I manage to force myself passed the street and head directly back to my own apartment. I don’t even allow myself to look that way. Once I am in my apartment I place a tea pod in my Keurig and start the water in my bath. I undress and grab my book and cup of tea to head for the bathtub, light a couple of candles and add some oil to the warm water. Sliding into the water stirs the scent of thieves oil and instantly takes the chill from my body. I grab the book from the floor, there is a dark blue, silk marker placed towards the back of the book. I open to the page and begin to read:
You walk the same path day after day, you search, but cannot find your way. You are often curious and a little bold, but become uneasy and end up cold. You chose this book to open your eyes, to help overcome the repeating lies. You follow yourself or who you used to be, you keep looking closer, but refuse to see. Close your eyes and count to three…tap tap tap her heels make you look, the time on her watch made you grab this book.
I slam the book shut and throw it onto the floor, pulling myself up from the bath I grab for the towel, a chill enters the room and every hair on my body stands on end. I pull my robe on walking out of my bathroom, leaving the book behind. I cannot believe what I just read. I think I must be losing my mind and decide to take a valium and a nap. I wake what feels like only a few minutes later to find it dark outside. I realize I have wasted an entire Sunday sleeping. I go to the bathroom to pee glancing at the book laying on the floor and vow to return it to the library first thing the next day.
The next morning I head out the door with book in hand and head straight for the library. As I come to the street I refuse to look that way I don’t want to give in to curiosity again. As I hurry across, on a mission for the library to get rid of this book my world goes dark…the pain comes quick, people are yelling, dizziness, sickness, the sirens in the distance, but I only see the gray sky above me, then I hear the tapping of heels towards me that catch my attention…she leans over me, with her glasses and her loose bun….its so cold I try to say, but my voice sounds so foreign, she stops me from trying to talk by holding her finger to her mouth…shhhh.