Monday, November 16, 2009
"Don't," I told myself for two weeks straight, "don't go to the library for those three days. Remember it. They'll be closed for renovation. Don't forget."
"I won't forget," I said, and I surely meant it. Over and over I told myself, all but writing the dates on my hand.
So it was with a measure of amazement that I stood, books under arm, mouth agape, outside the library, under an enormous banner ten feet long and three feet high that fervently declared the library was presently closed.
"Well," I said. "Well."
I did not know what else to say. I thought about the two or so miles I had walked already, and I thought about the way back. I sank onto a stone wall, attempting to gather my thoughts and, while I was at it, give myself a little talking to for such a dreadful lapse of memory.
I noticed a tiny old woman striding closer to me; I noticed her from a distance. She was clearly bound for the library, eyes on the concrete.
Myself, I had halted some fifty feet from the doors, but the little woman took longer to comprehend the situation. She marched, unseeing, right up to the automatic doors before she noticed they were not obeying her. She took a startled step back and raised her eyes to the sky and to the banner.
To my utter astonishment, she let out a very loud and anguished expletive, the tiny woman with the book bag.
"Closed!" she shrieked. Her head whipped wildly from side to side, as though somebody would come forward and admit that it was a practical joke, just a joke, and would she like to step inside now?
I perched on the wall for a while: now that my own disappointment had ebbed somewhat, I took note of other patrons as they approached, and I observed the rainbow of ways that people react to change and adversity and dismay. Some, visibly affronted or embarrassed, pretended they did not want the library at all, that they just intended to walk up to the doors and back home again; others sought explanation or assistance or a sympathetic eye from other confused souls; still more slipped surreptitiously around the back in hopes of discovering another entrance.
It held more fascination for me than any book I could have collected that day.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 5:37 PM