Friday, 1 July 2016

Just a random scene from a random book I'm not even working on)))

Eugenia knocked on the wooden door of the library storage and timidly invited herself in when there came no reply. The room smelled strongly of standard perfume of paper and dust. Eugenia, who considered herself something of an expert on books and places that contained them, expected a more imposing and orderly room for book-storing at HCA. This room was long, narrow and cramped. Eugenia was standing on a small semi-circular rug that was the only place empty of books. The desk that stood next to the door was barely visible and that only because of its shapely wooden legs. The room was zigzagging among the bookcases that looked like they were about to burst.

Eugenia had a sudden vivid image of a portly middle-aged man with a belly so big his waistcoat popped open and his velvet buttons sprinkled onto the floor once he'd had one too many bites of his sandwich. Here and there stood books in towering piles, wobbling ever so slightly. Some books just spilled onto the floor from the multitude of passageways the room seemed to have like extra pockets for all kinds of knick-knacks on one of her mom's favourite coats. Eugenia was afraid to move in case her movements caused something of a domino effect; there was no way she could walk along the passage without finding herself buried under the whole book population. 

“Hello,” she said, raising her voice and hoping that someone would hear her. “My name is Eugenia Leonard. I was sent here by Miss Harridan to receive my punish – ” 

Eugenia screamed. 

A plump young woman with pink cheeks and merry face emerged from under the desk with a booming “Hello, dear! I've been expecting you!”. 

“Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't see you there,” replied Eugenia, slightly confused. How she could have failed to see her in such cluttered space that barely admitted room for her own average self was a mystery. Miss Leaf, the librarian, was not exactly a Thumbelina. However, as she heaved herself upwards and Eugenia leaned slightly forward to satisfy her curiosity, she saw that Miss Leaf had actually appeared – or that part of her that had – from inside a trapdoor that was right next to the desk on the other side. 

“Oh, dear,” giggled the jolly librarian, “I'm afraid I got stuck. Genie, dear, can you give me a hand?” 

“Sure,” stammered Eugenia. She squeezed herself around the desk and gave both hands for Miss Leaf to grab onto. Miss Leaf held on tight and for one heart-stopping moment Eugenia was certain that they would both fall through the floor. However, the very next second Miss Leaf sprang upwards with a burst of laughter that turned her cheeks into two bright-red apples. 

Eugenia was pushed backwards and as she got her bearings she understood why Miss Leaf got stuck in the first place: she had stuffed her pockets with at least half a dozen thick books each! 

“Thank you, dear,” gasped Miss Leaf, taking out the books from her pockets and putting them on the desk buried under a mountain of volumes. They immediately slipped onto the floor. “Now... your assignment!” she declared, taking no notice, as she spread her plump arms as though trying to embrace the book-storage. 

Eugenia had a sudden sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. Will she have to put the whole place in order? Oh, Miss Harridan was a sadist. She knew how much Eugenia loved books. Everyone did. But sorting out the whole storage of dust-filled volumes would give her a horrible allergy and would put her off books for a very long time. 

“Ah, yes... you've noticed the bedlam that reigns in here,” commented Miss Leaf, nodding and smiling broadly. “Everyone brings here books they no longer need and just leave them here. It is one of my duties to sort through them and find those that are worth keeping. The rest goes down through that trapdoor until such time when I find use for them. I don't actually get rid of books, you know, because the moment I do, I realize that it is exactly what I need. Anyway,” Miss Leaf giggled, “for the duration of your punishment, you will be helping me look for real gems. Now don't be intimidated,” she added, correctly interpreting Eugenia's look of utter misery, “you don't have to sort out the whole place. No, no, no. You just grab a pile – any pile that beckons to you – look through it and find something special, something that whispers to you.” 

“But how will I know what is special?” asked Eugenia. 

“Trust your instinct, dear. That's the best thing.” 

“So... how exactly does that work? I trust my instinct and you trust me? Just like that?” 

Miss Leaf nodded, beaming at her. Eugenia continued to look doubtful; she wasn't sure that she could trust her instinct with something so important. But Miss Leaf didn't seem to worry about that. 

“Well, go on, Genie-dear, take your pick,” she hurried her into action.

Eugenia looked around. No pile beckoned or whispered to her, so she grabbed the top of the nearest one as quickly as though she was committing a theft and ducked her head in embarrassment under Miss Leaf's expectant gaze. Eugenia was slightly annoyed. Did she expect her to have a system or something? 

“Very good, very good, now follow me,” said Miss Leaf and much to Eugenia's astonishment went along the narrow passage at a jolly trot, making the books bounce off her wide sides without causing even a minor avalanche. 

Eugenia stared. How did she do that? She'd expected Miss Leaf to squeeze her bulk through with great effort but not to walk, swaying her hips, as though she was on the dance-floor. The moment that thought occurred to her she heard faint sounds of jazz coming from somewhere. Miss Leaf turned into another row and gently scolded Eugenia for dawdling. 

“Sorry!” gasped Eugenia as she sprang after her. 

How great was her shock and humiliation when the towers of books that she'd just passed – without so much as touching – fell crashing down onto the floor in her wake.


  1. I love reading this! Gosh, Miss Leaf sounds exactly like my English Lit. teacher: bubbly and happy-go-lucky and an all together free spirit!

    1. Thank you very much for stopping by! I'm glad you enjoyed it))) Miss Leaf is precious. I don't even remember thinking about what she would be like when she suddenly appeared all formed on the page: plump and pink and giggly, energetic, helpful and never out of humour.