Short Stories

Small Incident in the Library

(this short story originally based on a poem by David Sutton’s Small Incident in the Library)

The bus stopped for a short time near Birkbeck street, several people got off. A beautiful young woman was among them. She was holding a little girl dressed in a red coat, white lacy tights and a wool hat with a bobble on top. She was nearly two years old—the little girl. The noise of the cars in the background made her had to shout out. “Mummy, is that a beautiful library you are talking about?” she said this loud, pointing out her little finger to a big building near the bank across the street. There was a note of excitement in a little girl face, for that day was her first library experience.

The woman nodded to the little girl as she walked to the zebra crossing. “That’s nice!” said the girl and started to observe the details of building from far.

A hollow sound echoed through the room as they both began to enter the library. The woman seemed familiar with the whole atmosphere there, she smelled the scent of books. Her eyes wandered towards the big notice board on the wall. It was Saturday means that she only had, at least, four hours to spend until the library closed.

“Can I drop you now, Darling? I need to find my ID card” said the young woman to her little child, she also needed to stretch out her arms for a while.

“Yes, Mum.” answered the little girl while looking curious over the tall shelves behind her. Yet, the little girl did not let her hand detached from the tip of the young woman’s yellow blouse.

The number of people who showed up varied. There was a large man wearing a long-sleeved shirt stood only a few feet away from the mother and her child. He was holding a cup of coffee from the famous coffee shop nearby, could not help to smile at the little girl. She did not smile at him at all. Indeed, he was a real stranger for her. Another young people sat on cubicle desks, busied themselves reading from their brand new laptops. There were no other children showed up that day, only the little girl.

Shortly after the woman renews her expired library card, she hold the little girl’s hand and started moving her eyes looked for children literature sections. The little girl never had imagined a beautiful library her mother told about would be that big. Her eyes gleamed with happiness as the young woman showed her the shelves of some pictures book in it. Of course, she could not read yet, so that her mother needed to find suitable books for her little child.

“Here it is, I think you might like it, love”, the woman picked out one of Dr. Seuss book from the library shelves.

“What is it, Mum?”

“It’s a book called The Cat in the Hat. It such a funny book, go on then look at those pictures”

The little girl had to stand on tiptoed to glance at the selected book. After a while, she took it and said: “Let me see it by myself!”. It did not take a long time for the child got her nose in Dr. Seuss’ book. Even she did not realize that her lovely mother had already walked into another aisle.

From across the aisle came the little girl’s voice, “Can’t see you, Mummy.” This time her voice less loud than usual as she remembered her mother’s instruction at home. The young woman turned her head away from a book she read for a while, and answered absently “I’m here, love”.

“Can’t see” called out the child again, “Where’s Mummy, then?”. The child wandered off and found herself literally got lost among the books. By that time, the big and tall shelves in that library scared her; it threatened like a forest. She felt lonely with no mother around and began crying.

The coffee man stooped down to take a peek behind the shelves, looking for the crying little girl. At first, the woman thought that she did not need to worry; for she knew that her child was only a couple blocks away. She  sighed deeply for a minute, realizing she could not continue putting her eyes on the book like she used to. She needed to look after the little girl now. She closed the book and stood up from the desk.

As she wandered around, her eyes met a stranger’s eyes. The stranger smiled at the young woman and shaken his head, so did she. At last, the mother turned she found her little child was still crying, hugged her knees.

“Found you!” The little girl cried in pure delight.

“Great soft thing,” said the woman as she picked up her child and hugged her.

“Don’t leave me again, Mum! I am scared”

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