She stood, pensive, the sacred tome clutched to her chest. The sacredness was assumed, of course, as she’d not yet read the text, but within the book she knew there existed a world beyond her own. A world where she could, for just a few moments, live and thrive. Pulling the top of the book back from her body she scanned the cover greedily. A boy on a rock, a castle in the distance set among a lush forest and crystalline lake; vines in a border around the graphic and a brilliant purple edging around the vines. A bold script scrawled across the book, “In the Hall of the Dragon King.” The corners of the worn paperback cover were peeling and ragged, some of the pages torn. She heard a step near her and clutched the book tightly against her chest, looking up furtively and stepping behind the black plastic cylinder filled with other books. Boring books.
Books that were not this book.
She looked at the text, a deep longing in her heart. This book came from the adult section, from which she had hitherto been forbidden to collect reading materials. There existed a wealth of books in the youth section, perfectly appropriate to her age, but none as captivating as this book could be. She peered around the cylinder and saw her mother walking slowly down the long, narrow row of books.
To check this book out from the library would require her mother’s permission. Her mother, who considered “No” to be a perfectly valid response to any question, often without understanding the true depth of need that often prompted a request. Her mother, who got to read all manner of books, but disallowed certain literature in the hands of her children, namely books with gratuitous sex or graphic violence.
The girl ran her fingers over the edge of the book and felt tears welling up at the thought of having her request denied and having to return the precious book to the shelf. She couldn’t simply sneak the book into the stack of books to be checked out, it was too big and bulky to hide, especially among the trifling little books from the youth section. Permission would be a necessity in this case.
With a steadying breath, she stepped around the cylinder and advanced toward her mother with silent steps.
“Mom,” she whispered, careful to respect the hallowed sanctity of the library. “Can I get this one?”
The mother looked down at her daughter and slid the book from the girl’s arms. “Where did you get this one?”
The girl pointed noncommittally in the direction of the reference desk, checkout counter, bathroom, magazine section, and actual location where the book was found.
“Is this an adult book?” asked the mother, flipping casually through the book but not truly reading; not truly understanding the enticing story held within.
“I don’t think so,” the girl lied, without remorse.
A deep sigh whispered from the mother’s lungs. “Fine.” She handed the book back to the girl and moved away.
Tears filled the girl’s eyes as she grabbed the book and clung to it. Her thoughts hearkened back to another fantasy novel which she loved dearly.Mine. My own. My preciousssssss….. she thought, running her fingers over the worn pages.