BOOKS, Part 1

“So, Anna, tell me why you would be an asset to the Northton County Library.”

“Um.”

I swallowed. The dry patch remained in my throat, undisturbed.

“Well, I…” Gulp. “I love books. All books. I love to read them and to hold them and to feel the ink on the pages. I love the way different types of paper feel, and I love the sweet smell of really old books. I want to be around people who feel the same way as me, to share the joy of reading with as many people as I can.”

My hands were kneading against each other furiously. Linda Gausz stared at me patiently.

“All right … an interest in literature. That’s a good thing.” The pen in her hands scrabbled quickly across the clipboard. I felt ill. “Now, how skillfully would you say you interact with people?”

“Um…” Damn my ums. I kicked myself internally. “Outside of work … work scenarios, I tend to be quiet, but I’m pretty well-spoken. That comes from the reading, I suppose,” I chuckled.

Linda gave a small, sympathetic smile.

“Okay…”

The pen danced across the paper. On the counter, the radio began to play Cher. I was vaguely horrified when the woman began tapping her foot and mouthing the words as they crackled across the room.

“What’s your grade point average from your most recent year of school?”

“It’s a three point five.” I could clearly see a “3.5” on the form, but she scribbled something down anyway.

“And are you currently in school?”

“Yes. Well, no, not right now.”

The pen’s dance stopped. The woman stared at me over the rims of her glasses.

“I mean, I will be in the fall. It’s summer break right now.”

Her earrings jingled as she nodded slowly. “…Right.”

My fingers had opted for picking at my nail polish, my knuckles dancing like piano strings. A flake of translucent pink fluttered to the carpet.

“All right, tell me one thing about yourself that you wouldn’t want me finding out from a mutual friend.”

What the heck?

My mouth was moving before I knew it was going to. “I only pain my toenails on Sundays.”

Oh my God. What?

Linda stared at me. The humiliation made my ears buzz.

“Uh – ahem.” She tapped her pen on the clipboard. “Why wouldn’t you want me finding this out?”

“It’s obsessive – neurotic,” I amended when Linda’s eyebrows twitched upward at such a strong word. “I have these little weird habits and I need … I like to have things done at a certain time so I don’t have to worry about them.”

“Oh! Well, that’s good.”

“Is it?” Beneath me my toes burned with righteous anger. I had painted them yesterday, which was a Tuesday.

“Okay…”

A few more smears of ink decorated the forms, and the woman clicked her pen and clasped her hands. “I think we’re about done here, Anna.”

“Mmmn-” The lump reluctantly left my throat after a series of swallows. “-okay…”

“I’ll get this in for processing and we’ll contact you in the next five days to let you know if we’re interested.”

Nodding, I croaked out an “Okay.”

“Thank you for coming in, Anna.”

I jumped up to catch her outstretched hand. Thank you.”

The thudding of my heart slowed as I left the break room and carefully descended the stairs. The sunlight blinded me as I stepped into the entrance and when the automatic doors opened, the breeze hit me in the face so hard that it sucked my breath out.

Pulling the hairs away that were stuck to my mouth, I walked to the nearest trash can and vomited.

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