Grace Under PressureMature

It was all about books. Red ones, black ones, dusty ones, ones with embossed gold leafing, ones with dog-eared folds, new books, old books, books that had a pop-up halfway through. Books that had weight and heft and really hurt when they hit you in the back of the head.

“Oh for fuck’s sake!”

Scores of books, lines of books, books from floor to ceiling, from nape to crown, from thumb to pinkie. Books that helped to change the world and books that hoped to.

“I saw it in here yesterday! Blueandorangeandblue where the fuck is it!?”

Books that had been read.

“Miss? Miss? Please keep your voice down. This isn’t a common room, this is a library! And the language! It shocks me into insensibility and-“

The voice trailed off to a sibilant blur of background noise as Sam flicked through the last of the Epics. She paused, turned to the librarian and calmly but quickly asked, “There was a book here yesterday that was blue and orange and blue and now I can’t find it where could it be?”

“The title? The author?”

“Does it matter? It’s blueandorangeandblue and I haven’t fucking read it!”

Sam was an incredibly average teenager, stuck in an endless loop of glorious disappointment overcome by a tragic sense of achievement and back again. The most independent thing she had done all year was choose to have breakfast every morning.
For Sam, life consisted of the constant to-and-fro of school, reading, home, reading, play and the constantly pumping hormonal chemicals that meant every so often she broke down and cried like a fish. And books. And rules. And, most especially, rules about books.

Rule #1 - Red books can only be read after lunch
When she was five years old, Sam was given a red book about a rabbit who went missing. When she was five and a half years old, Sam lost the red book about a rabbit who went missing. She was sitting in the garden relaxing after eating an enormous strawberry muffin for lunch and when she turned to pick up her red book about a rabbit who went missing, it was missing. After letting out a small ‘What a spot of bother’, Sam resolved to only read red books after lunch, just in case she had accidentally eaten her red book about a rabbit who went missing instead of her strawberry muffin.

Sam loved books.
The thing she loved most about them is how they stayed still.

“Miss? Miss?”

Sam blinked twice and turned to the librarian, who was holding a blue, leather-bound book with an orange clasp.

“Is this-“

“Oh thank fuck!” Sam interjected then grabbed the book and ran out the library door, the shrill door alarm following her down the street.

The librarian, who at sixty-five was getting far too old to be chasing down young people to stamp their Due Date, stood in the doorway for a few minutes before switching the alarm off.

“Little bitch.”

The End

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