Four Hours in the Library


If you are looking for me, I’m probably in the library. Past the busy entrance where students tap their heels quickly as they try to balance books and Starbucks cups ten minutes late to class. Past one of many never-ending corridors guarded by heavy wood doors that swing on unforgiving hinges. Past the first part of the library with noisy printers, whispered chatter, and teachers with impatience etched into every line on their foreheads. I am behind the glass doors marked “silent”.

At first you’ll feel the pressure of heavy silence hanging in the air.  You’ll notice the scent of old books as it tickles your nose before settling into a comfortable aroma of home and rain and blankets by fires. Between each row of shelved books sits a long wood table. Each table is dotted with a hand full of graduate students. I am sat at the a table run vertically straight through the library, facing giant windows that disclose the world outside.

The trees are slowly dancing. Each green leaf is matched by gold and stippled with fading orange. Through the glass and against the dark grey sky is Saint Marylebone Parish Church. Once I figured out how to pronounce Marylebone, the word echoed through my mind like a children’s rhyme “Mar-le-bon” in rhythm with no rhyme. Again and again.

I spend each Monday here for four hours and impatiently wait until I can return. The silence is comforting and these people are my people. They have enthusiasm for their futures. I can read it in their concentrated eyes, unyielding to the slightest distraction. I feel it in the silence, their minds learning and sharing information. If I could read thoughts, libraries would be my personal hell.

Sirens sing out like a far away song that grounds me to reality. Each finger on my keyboard taps frantically to convey what I am experiencing while my mind nags at me to finish the last canto of Gawain and the Green Knight. I bought it in hard copy so I could make notes in the margins and highlight my favorite parts. It’s waiting for me in Karen’s backpack that I borrowed three weeks ago. I pull Beth’s suede jacket closer around me. Gangs all here.

My mind is swirling around the information I received during an appointment with the careers advisor. The sweet Italian woman spent 20 minutes talking to me about my future. I was told to make lists and decisions and explore because my face looks twenty but I’m five years older. She was surprised at my work experience and I tried to tell her I am open to taking risks. “Someone may have told you that being a writer is pointless” her words echo through and land like a knife in my heart. How do you explain that writing is the only thing you know? “I’m willing to take risks”, I responded. I need to be a creative, I explain. Lists and more lists and another appointment next week.

The clouds are somber now. It’s as if night is falling at 3pm. The impending storm encompasses me like a familiar blanket. Last week someone said that London has the worst weather, but I’d have to disagree. The siren’s are growing louder and a plane is roaring overhead. But in this library it’s just me and the tap of keyboards and the rustling of pages and the sound of my breath.

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