Library Girls

Rachel and Hannah both applied, and got, the job to work in the library over the summer. They've known each other, and are now to meet again - and work together. Summertime romance is in the air.

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2. Monday

Hannah was already there when she stepped in. Light was sifting through one of the large windows, making the dust speckles dance from the books. She was standing at the rows, one of the carts of the books in front of her. Rachel took one of the other carts from the book delivery room, and rolled it to the ‘Travel literature’ section. She could see Hannah from where she was standing, her dark brows furrowed in concentration. For a second she looked around, and caught Rachel’s eye. She smiled, and Rachel gave a nod back. Then she pushed a lost strand of hair behind her ear, and continued her work. Rachel put in her headphones and began hers.  

After three songs time she could feel a tap at her shoulder. She turned around to see Hannah - she seemed to be whispering something, so she paused the music for a moment.

“Sorry, what?”

“Could you turn down your music?” Hannah crossed her arms, and Rachel automatically started smiling. She seemed cross in that over-dramatic way she used to act to get her will with small things - yet her voice was far too soft and her eyes seemed more playful than angry. Hannah let her arms fall, but still didn’t meet Rachel’s smile.

“Does it bother you?”

“I think it bothers everyone.”

Rachel looked around in the next-to-empty library. “Uh-huh,” she looked back at Hannah. “Everyone certainly seems bothered.”

Hannah rolled her eyes. “Forget it.”

Rachel took out her phone and turned down the music. “There you go.” She winked and returned to her books, still managing to catch a glimpse of Hannah rolling her eyes. She had seen Hannah really mad, and really hurt, and this wasn’t it. “You know I’m only teasing you because no one else dares to.”

“I can’t even hear what you’re saying,” Hannah said from the other side of the bookshelf. “The noise of your headphones is simply too great.”

Rachel could hear her smile, and had to grin to herself.

 

***

 

They finished with one break. The shifts at the library weren’t too long, but the heat seemed to roll itself over them and break into their mouths to dry their throats. Rachel was thirsty.

She rolled her cart over to the book delivery room, where Hannah was already standing. Her brown skin matched the tree of the cart, and she was fidgeting with her ponytail, the blue hair ribbon on her free wrist.

“You need help with that?” Rachel said and raised an eyebrow. Hannah had had her hair shorter while they were dating, she thought. Although she had had long hair when they were longer.

“If you have a hair tie?”

Rachel reached in her back pocket and pulled one out, and reached it to her. Hannah smiled and tied her hair in a loose bun. “Thanks.” She straightened an invisible fold in her dress, and looked at Rachel.

“So, first shift, huh?” There was always something grave about her, even when she smiled her eyes stayed serious and contemplating.

Rachel smiled. “Mhm. Easy money.” She started to regret the dirty shirt she was wearing, next to Hannah she must have looked like someone who had come straight from a rock concert - one of those in grimy, small venues with a hundred people in constant motion.

“Who would have thought we’d meet again,” she was getting her bag, her back turned to Rachel.

“Yeah - I thought it’d be at the middle school reunion, you know, where you’d talk about your next great novel or something.”

Hannah turned around and laughed. “You have high expectations.”

“Nothing you can’t live up to.”

She smiled, and they started walking towards the exit.

“You know, I have no idea how you’ve been doing.” Rachel bit her inner lip from stop herself from saying more. Since the break-up.

“Oh, I’m fairly the same,” Hannah chuckled. She looked down, seemingly on the piece of gum stuck to the ground right beside Rachel’s feet. A bus was approaching down the street. “You know, I was thinking-”

Rachel squinted, and made a quick calculation. She lightly touched Hannah’s arm, and she stopped mid-sentence. “That’s my bus, sorry, I gotta run.” She didn’t even take time to see Hannah’s reaction, her feet running towards the stop. When she sat in the bus, she could see Hannah on her bike, a flurry of white and brown as she disappeared around a corner.

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