May 21, 2010
More by this author
A wiry, dark-haired boy hunched, perfectly still, over a dictionary roughly the size of his body. His pale mother stood watching him with her narrow, critical eyes as she leaned against the doorframe of the rather large study in their museum-like home.

He suddenly pushed his half-dollar sized glasses up the bridge of his nose and spoke with the ring of awe in his voice, “Mother, did you know sensible and wise mean the same thing?”

She scoffed. “Everyone knows that, Raphael.”

The boy began to hastily flip through his book, keeping his face only centimeters away from the now-flying pages as he filled the hollow room with the sound of ruffling paper. He stopped and placed his finger on a word, leaning in to study it closely. “Mother. I found the perfect adjective to describe you.”

“Well what is it?” she asked, rolling her eyes.

“Ultracrepidarian!” he looked up at her, his glasses making his eyes dark eyes appear to shine brighter than possible, and smiled brilliantly.

She stared back at him and laughed forcibly. “Everyone knows that, but thank you anyways.” Raphael’s mother feigned a yawn as she leaned forward and took her weight off the doorframe. “I think I’ll go find something less childish to attend to.” She turned around and walked away.

Raphael waited until he could no longer hear her heavy footsteps then burst out laughing. “Ultra...crep...” he gasped between chortles. He had just called his mother a know-it-all and she had actually thanked him for it. He hugged his dictionary shut, “What power have I just discovered?” he mused, completely happy for the first time in his life.

Ten years pass.

Raphael sat with his feet propped up on the library check out counter while lazily reading a small, latin dictionary. He heard the heavy entrance door open, breaking him out of his revere. He loudly plopped his feet on the ground and attempted to appear attentive. A girl, about Raphael’s age, with blonde hair up in a messy bun, aviator sunglasses, and typical summer clothes meandered in, looking completely bewildered.

Raphael cleared his throat, “May I... May I help you?” he stammered, remembering why customer service was the only part of his job he hated.

She took off her sunglasses, revealing bright green eyes, and began to slowly look around. “I don’t think so,” she said, still looking around. “I just wanted to see what a real library looked like.”

“Quixotic? Vacuous? Imbecilic?” he thought, trying to pinpoint the right adjective to describe this girl.

She suddenly stormed his counter, making Raphael worry for a moment that she could read his mind. “I need something to prove I was here. No one would believe me if I told them.”

Raphael smirked, averting his gaze. “Really?”

“Yes. Is there a gift shop in here?” She began to try to look behind the counter.

“We only sell library cards.”

“I’ll take it! How much is it?”


“A whole $15?!” she exclaimed, pouting.

Raphael’s head shot up, his eyes gleaming. “It’s really a paltry fee for what you get.” She stared at him blankly. He blushed and quickly elaborated, “The knowledge of thousands for a mere $15? It’s almost like stealing.”

She smirked, amused at his outburst. “Well then, I don’t want to pass up such a fine deal. Here.” She took out her wallet and gave him the cash. “Sign me up.”

Bernard blushed an even deeper red and started to fumble around in the drawer of blank library cards. He hastily took one out and traded it for the money. “Sign the back please,” he asked, barely audible. He then moved towards a computer and, with a flick of the mouse, snapped it out of its sleep mode. He stared intently at the monitor. “Name?”

“Delilah Thomson.” She put her elbows on the desk and leaned in, “What’s your name?”

Raphael’s gaze flickered to Delilah and back to the screen almost instantly. “Raphael Watson.” He mumbled, clicking the letters of her name into the computer.

“Oh like the ninja turtle?” She grinned, genuinely excited. Raphael stared up at her, incredulous. Instantly sobered, the girl blushed and murmured, “Nice to meet you.”

Raphael cleared his throat. “Well then, umm... I’ll need this for a moment.” He took the library card back and swiftly swiped it under a barcode laser. “Here, take it. You’re done.” He looked up, suddenly embarrassed. “Thank you for signing up with us today.”

“Your welcome,” she said brightly, then abruptly began to frown. “Wait, now what do I do with it?”

Raphael sighed, tired from all the social interaction. He opened the swinging door in the counter and started to walk off towards the fiction section. “Come with me.”

Delilah obliged, jogging a bit to catch up with him. They stopped at a shelf and Raphael began to run his index finger over the books, searching... “Here you are.” he said to himself, stopping and abruptly pulling out a book. He adjusted his glasses and handed it to to her, still looking at the bookshelf. “You should like this.”

He felt the weight being taken off his hand. “Pride and Prejudice,” she read aloud. “Thanks.”

Raphael turned around and started to walk back towards the check-out counter. “You can either read it here or check it out. Enjoy.”

She followed, pulling her cell phone out as she did so and flipping it open with a click. “Well, it looks like I have some time.” Just as Raphael was getting ready to check her book out to her, she plopped down at a table right in front of his counter, to the young man’s dismay.

He sat back down with his Latin dictionary, trying his best to ignore the intrusive girl. She immediately began to mumble non-sensical parts of the book, obviously trying, to Raphael’s slight amusement.

Delilah lifted up her head and caught his eye. She then broke out into her big, white-toothed grin and began to wave at the librarian-boy. Raphael scowled and jerked his head back down towards his book, trying to conceal the flush that had instantly swept across his face.

He committed himself to his text, quickly loosing track of time. He paused after he had finished reviewing all of the Latin o-words, and looked up, slightly surprised by Delilah’s silence. Her head was bowed, hair forming a veil around her face. Raphael quietly got up, moving through the hinged counter door and towards the obviously unconscious girl. He leaned over the table to make sure she was still breathing then sat back in one of the well-used orange-cushioned chairs, crossing his arms. Glancing down at the table, Raphael noticed Delilah was still holding on to Pride and Prejudice; her fingers marking her place in the closed book. He leaned back over the table and slid the book from her fingers with painstaking slowness, careful not to disturb the impossibly peaceful girl. He began to read from the page Delilah had left off on. “He spoke well but there were feelings besides those of the heart to be detailed, not more eloquent on the subject of tenderness than of pride...” “This doesn’t mean anything,” he thought, disgusted. Raphael put the book down, the tips of his ears reddening with anger.

Delilah was staring, her face contorted into a grin as it was supported up by her hand, across the table at him. “For someone who works in a library and preaches so strongly about the power of books, you sure do seem to hate reading.”

He scoffed. “I do not. It’s just I wouldn’t waste my time with this boring and meaningless sort of work.” He looked away. “It put you to sleep didn’t it?”

She laughed openly. “Meaningless? This book has all the meaning in the world!” She crossed her arms, mimicking the surly boy across from her. “Her boring use of the English language is what put me to sleep.”

“That’s the only thing that makes sense!” he exclaimed, livid.

“So,” Delilah leaned back, discovery lighting her face, “You’re saying you understand the words but you can’t string them together... And I’m totally awesome at putting things together, but I suck with definitions...”

“Your point is?”

“Let’s read this baby together!” She smiled rascally. “Its something to do in this boring little town, so why not?”

He began to trace the outline of the book. “I work here. That would be... irresponsible.”

She peered piercingly at Raphael, forcing him to stare back at her. A mischievous grin began to play on her lips, “How many people actually come into this library?”

He opened his mouth as if to argue, but thought better of it and clenched his teeth together, remembering how his mom reacted when she heard he had gotten this job...

“You’re going to work at the Gardiner Library?” She scoffed. “Everyone avoids that dump. Its a shame it hasn’t shut down yet.”

Raphael leaned back and brushed his dark hair out of his face with his long, narrow fingers. He slumped down, resigned and suddenly exhausted. “Why not?” he sighed.

Delilah got up an took a seat besides the angst-ridden teenager. She nudged him playfully, “Come on, this’ll be great! You just wait.”

Raphael forced a smile, allowing the tiniest bit of hope to creep back into his thoughts.

And so it began. Every day around lunch Delilah would meander in with two haphazardly-prepared bagged lunches. And every day Raphael would lecture her about brining food into the library as he smiled and tried not to drip jelly on the table from his messy sandwich. They would then start to work on their book.

“In his library he had always been always sure of leisure and tranquillity; and though prepared ... to meet with folly and conceit in every other room in the house, he was used to be free of them there.” Delilah read aloud. “Define folly and conceit please.”

Raphael looked over her shoulder to look at the words as he explained them. “Folly is foolishness, derived from the French word folie, which means madness. While conceit is excessive pride in oneself from late Middle English...”

She began to giggle, “I already told you; you really don’t need to tell me the origin of every word you define.”

“But it’s fascinating, isn’t it?” Delilah raised her eyebrows, clearly unconvinced. He elaborated, “We’re defined literally and in origin by our words!”

She tilted her head, contemplating this idea. “What came first... The human or the words?” Delilah then shook her head, not having the patience to think that question out. “Now Mr. Darcy, what do you think this means?”

Raphael simply laughed, trying to alleviate the pressure of love and happiness off his chest.

Of course the fantasy had to end, much to Raphael’s innocent surprise. The sun was setting, casting a smoldering orange light on the two teenagers who hunched intently over their beloved book. For once, they read silently.

Delilah tugged on Raphael’s light sweater. “Let’s read this last paragraph. I don’t quite get it.”

Raphael looked at her quizzically. “Alright, go for it.”

She cleared her throat, unable to eliminate the faint shake in her voice. “With the Gardiners, they were always on the most intimate terms. Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, really loved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them.” She paused. “Define gratitude.”

“Readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” He recited, extremely confused.

“And it’s origin?”

“Medieval Latin gratitudo, from Latin gratus... meaning pleasing or thankful.” He tentatively put his hand on her shoulder. “What’s wrong?”

Eyes glistening, she smiled at Raphael in the twilight as she leaned over to kiss his cheek. “Thank you.” Raphael stared wide-eyed and petrified as Delilah backed away and shrugged, half-smiling. “I just know we’ll meet again! Goodbye.” She stopped, “No, scratch that. See you later!” Too shocked to blink, he watched as he let her walk out the door. He suddenly snapped to his senses and burst out of the heavy glass doors, only to find a dark and empty sidewalk.

He leaned back against the doors and laughed, touching the spot her lips had brushed with his fingertips. He looked towards the stars.

“Thank you Jane Austen.”

Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback