It was a kingdom, a realm peopled by books, magazines, and other such devices of bound paper. Shelves rose like apartment buildings from the ground, street-ways of plush carpet crisscrossing the alleys between them. It was here that Peter sat, between Fiction W-Z and Non-Fiction A-B, legs crossed on the floor to support the weight of his treasure.
"What've you got there?" A woman's voice whispered down at him; kind, caring, motherly.
"Shhh! We're not supposed to talk," came Peter's own hushed reply, his eyes still on the pages.
"But why not?"
"Librarian says so."
The woman straightened her body and knelt beside Peter. A brief chuckle slipped past her rose-red lips, a soft tinkling of bells.
"But I am a librarian, and I say that you can whisper quietly."
Peter looked up, moving only his eyes. His glance lasted mere seconds before falling back down.
She can't be. The librarian at the desk had a hairy mole on her neck.
"No, you're not," he said with quiet confidence. "You don't have glasses. All librarians have glasses."
"And why would that be?" Amusement filled the woman's voice, another laugh echoing behind her words.
Again, Peter's reply was very matter-of-fact. "They read too much, so their eyes get tired lots."
"Oh, well my eyes aren't tired yet, so I don't need my glasses now."
I need to trick her, just like I trick everyone else.
"Well, if you're a librarian, you should have read lots of books, right?" It almost sounded like a challenge.
"But of course."
"Then, you can probably finish a sentence from a famous one, right?"
A twinkle in Peter's eye caught the woman's attention. "Well, I can try."
"Okay. 'One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.' What's the next line?"
"Easy," the woman said. "'Old fish, new fish, brown fish..." She faltered here, but maintained her smile.
What is it? I can't remember! Surely not blue fish again, Seuss would never repeat something...
She doesn't know. Some librarian she is. I would be much better. I am much better.
Peter oozed an expectant grin, eyes glued to the woman's worried face.
"Uhm... 'brown fish, true fish.'" She finished with confidence, but the words echoed false in her own mind, and she knew she had mucked up.
Now it was Peter's turn to laugh, his small voice straining to be muted in his glee.
"No," he whispered, still giddy. "It is 'blue fish' again."
And with that, Peter stood and made his way to the exit, dropping his copy of the Dr Seuss classic on the librarian's desk. She smiled at Peter as he passed, mole bouncing up with her lips.
I better find my bus.
The red-lipped woman fumed, and went to follow Peter out of the building, leaving behind the literary kingdom.