2. Gabriel

Mrs. Bell

All the children loved to tell,
of the wicked Mrs. Bell.
The belletristic overlord,
the dragon with a paper hoard.

There were legends, horrid tales
of her awful deeds,
but to all the others it didn't matter,
they didn't like to read.

She had a nose shaped like a beak,
she had a walrus's physique,
she had beady, all-seeing eyes,
possessed of power to hypnotize.

And she had a black heart of chilled steel.

Mrs. Bell, soulless librarian,
bibliophilic carrion,
vile totalitarian,
the keeper of the books.
Fingernails like fishing hooks.
Protector and chiller of spines,
enforcer of overdue fines,
sworn to keep children in line.

Children like me. Eek!
Quiet. Do not speak.

The glass shards of her pince nez gleamed,
focusing optic laser beams.
I froze in her Medusa's stare,
she burned me with her searing glare.

"What is it?" rasped her voice of chalk,
head cocked like a hunting hawk,
daring me to try to talk,
so she could rip the words from my throat,
then crush them underfoot and gloat,
Quiet, child, can't you see?
You're inside a library!

What made me do it, I can't say,
But words tumbled out anyway.

"I'd like a book, please."

It shattered through the dusty silence,
Ripped down the rows with raucous violence.
Though it was but a tiny squeak,
It echoed like an eldritch shriek.
I'd like a book, please.

Musty, untouched pages muttered,
my heart pounded, squirmed, and fluttered—
and her stony, coal-black heart,
broke down, melted like butter.
Her wicked shell fell apart;
she'd found a fellow book-lover.

Her face crinkled as she smiled,
"Let's find a book for you, my child."

The End

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