Ismenia

Do you believe in fairies ? Johannes doesn't but a chance encounter in a forest sends him on an adventure where he starts to question not only his beliefs but his own sanity.

From an idea that came to me in a dream. Thanks to the extraordinary Crissy Volt-Green for not just providing me with an amazing cover but also for the inspiration to write this story.

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5. The Library

The next day I was working in the back room of the library backing some new books that had been delivered. The cuts to funding meant that these events occurred less and less as time went by. It was always a joy to pick a brand new book out of the box and hold it close to the nose, breathing in the smell of a new tome. The thrill of being the first one to touch this book was a wonderful feeling. I always put it close to nose, shut my eyes and flicked the pages gently to waft the aroma up the nostrils. Occasionally little paper nodules caught on the nostrils and made me sneeze, but that was a small price to pay for the new book smell. To me it was like smelling the first flowers in spring, the Christmas tree after it was put in place. It was a happy smell. I must have been in this sort of state as I didn’t realise the door behind me had opened.

‘Johannes, are you committing some sort of depraved act’ I heard Tubshaws voice resonate throughout the small ante room. My mind swiftly came back to the present and in shock I dropped the book into my lap causing me to exude profanities as it hit me. I heard laughter.

‘Lucky that wasn’t Tubshaw or you’d be for it’ I heard Josie say. Once again her uncanny impersonation had caught me out.

‘Josie, stop doing that, that woman frightens me.’

‘Well Johannes, you shouldn’t be sniffing the books,’ she said between laughter bouts.

‘What do you want anyway’ I asked laughing lightly as I saw the joke.

‘Oh, you know that girl who was in yesterday? Well she’s back now hanging around the fiction shelves. You know if Tubshaw sees her she’ll shout at you again, she doesn’t like friends visiting’

‘Honestly Josie, I don’t know the girl,’ I said.

We edged up to the window that overlooked the library, I was anxious not to be seen looking, the last time I’d seen the girl she’d got on her heels and ran.

I glanced around the library. There were the few regulars sat at the desks reading the daily newspapers, older people who came every day to read the papers and feel the company of others before they retired in the evenings to the loneliness of the homes. They was Mrs Marshall choosing her Mills and Boon romance novels and Mr Hayes in the military section looking for his Sharpe novels. I glanced over the shelves and almost didn’t see the girl. She was smaller in height than I’d remembered, but I could see her head above the shelving. She had the most delicately coloured hair that dropped below her shoulders. It was a lightish brown but when the light caught it from the windows, a burst of red appeared. A very attractive hue and one that gave a certain life to the hair, almost as if it was on fire at times.  She had her back to me to start and I couldn’t make out her face.

She glanced towards the window as if suspecting she was being watched. I pulled back even further still keeping my eyes on her. She met my eyes and I saw uncertainty and an alarmed look in her eyes. I saw her move out of sight around the stacks and disappear from sight.

Exiting the door to the rear office, I moved swiftly towards the shelving she had disappeared behind, keeping it in sight all the time. This time she wasn’t to get away from me. I nearly couldn’t stop my forward movement on the slippery tiles and as I approached the stack she was hidden in I banged my shoulder into the shelving dislodging a thin layer of dust in the process. Looking into the space gave a sense of déjà vu, there were no sight of her at all. The shelving went down to the floor so there was no way of her escaping that way. The shelves were very high and I couldn’t possibly see her getting away that way. I looked down the adjoining aisles to check she wasn’t down one of them. I turned round and saw Tubshaw approaching, obviously my progress across the library had been noted.

‘Mr Tieval, will you stop haring around the library as if it were your private race track’ her voice boomed across the library.

Sheepishly I turned towards her and shrugged my shoulders in apology.

‘Sorry, I thought I saw a child messing down here’ I said quickly knowing Tubshaws dislike of young people, which seemed to have extended to me as well.

‘And is there, Mr Tieval, is there, I don’t see them’

‘I must have been mistaken’ I said

‘Well next time less rush, Mr Tieval and you may just catch them’ Tubshaw said before turning and heading back for the desk. Once more I looked into the aisle between the stacks and saw something glistening on the shelf in the sunlight. It was my pocket watch. I picked it up feeling the warmth from someone else in the metal. Whoever had placed it here, it wasn’t long ago. I looked around and heard a rustling on top of the shelf. I looked up expecting to see the girl but it wasn’t. Instead one of these huge dragonfly like insects flew out from the top before disappearing out of an open window. I watched it go marvelling at the swirling colours of the wings, which shimmered green and purple in the sunlight. I smiled to myself at the beauty of it but was shocked for a moment when I thought I saw a human face on its head.

xxxx

That morning I’d gone into town with the intention of meeting this young man and returning his pocket watch. However as I’d walked up the streets to the library my nerves had got the better of me. I was a very shy person, I was OK in the family setting and with my friends, such as they were, but talking to strangers was something I never did.

I’d stood outside in the square in front of the library for what seemed like ages before eventually walking up the steps. My mind seemed to be arguing with itself, part of me wanted to talk to this fascinating human and the other said it was nonsense. I gripped the handle of the door with determination though and pulled it towards me. Entering I could feel the tension in my body intensify as I walking into the quite room. The older stern looking woman was at the desk. I sensed anger in her, no peace but conflict. Looking around I couldn’t see the man but saw the younger woman. Our eyes met and I could tell in her reaction she had recognised me. I saw her smile and nod towards the shelving at the far side of the library. I walked over and stood behind the shelving. The mustiness of the books in the heat of the library was quite distinct.

As a child I had always craved books. The adventures they held, the images that they impregnated in my head were wonderful. I read as many of the books as my mother had managed to source for me over the years. To work in such a place must be really wonderful and fulfilling, I could see part of the attraction of the man I wanted to meet.

Whilst I was browsing the books I could feel someone watching me. I glanced around and at first couldn’t spot anyone looking at me. I then sensed the observation was coming from another room. I spotted the window and saw the young man. Our eyes met for the first time. I suddenly lost all nerve to meet him. My instinct was to head for the door and runaway, but that way would take me too close to where he was and I hadn’t left the watch. I saw a aisle to my right and I quickly moved into it. I knew I didn’t have much time. I removed the watch from its hiding place and then inexplicably I kissed it before placing it on the shelf.

I heard the door open and realised that I had less time than I thought. I could feel a bead of sweat run down my forehead as I closed my eyes and incanted the words ‘morphina faere tolina’ I felt my wings sprout from my clothing and grow whilst at the same time my body started shrinking. I took a panicked look behind me as I shrunk dramatically in size. I took flight as the spell worked and flew up to the top of the shelving landing just as I felt a jolt on the shelf. For a moment I thought I’d been spotted and prepared to take off. However as I sat on the shelf I realised that I was OK. Catching my breath, spells said in a hurry always took more out of me than when I could take my time.

I heard the older woman shouting at the young man, catching the name Tieval. So I now had half a name. I heard the exchange between the humans and waited. I wondered whether to move over to the edge and watch what was happening but was scared I would be seen.

I waited for a few minutes and thought that the coast was clear. I saw a window open a few yards away that I hadn’t noticed before. Flapping my wings I took off and glided over the shelving. As I reached the window I looked back and once again saw the young man observing me. I smiled as I flew through the window and into the open. Flying was my favourite activity and I soared up into the air feeling the warm air on my wings. I hovered for a minute looking over the market town before swooping and heading towards the forest.

I was halfway there when I suddenly stopped and landed on a hedge. Catching my breath I looked both ways, once towards the forest and once towards the town. I saw a sheep observing me in the field and I stupidly threw it a kiss before taking flight back towards the town. This time I wanted to meet the young man Tieval. Hopefully this time I wouldn’t runaway.

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