Many parents would consider a studious child a blessing. However, while such a child requires no nagging to complete homework and can be settled down with a book to give a tired mother or father a couple of quiet hours, they come with their own peculiar drawbacks.
Laurence was just such a child. When sent out to play, he would shun the playgrounds and the parks and instead head straight for the local library.
Although he had his very own library card and could take as many as ten books home at once, he loved to sit in the peaceful reading room of the library, surrounded by books and history, with a book in his hands and his mind full of wonders.
However, because he was only a little boy and the reading room was designed for grown ups, he found the big chairs were too uncomfortable for him, so he often sat on the floor in a corner, or perhaps under a table if it was particularly quiet. He had a little pocket torch which he used for those occasions; it wasn’t particularly bright, but it lasted a very long time.
Most of the librarians knew Laurence, but on this particular occasion there was a new lady at the main desk.
“Young man,” she said, looking over her glasses with a frown, “The children’s library is to your left.”
“I know that, ma’am,” he replied politely, “But I have already read all the interesting books in there. I have been reading at an adult level for almost two years now.”
She frowned again and looked disbelieving, but he walked away quickly before she could say anything more, and he felt certain she wouldn’t shout after him. It was a library, after all.
He quickly located an exceptionally fascinating book on popular science, and found a comfortable spot where he could stretch out underneath one of the long tables with it on the floor. It was the only way to read it, since it was far too heavy to rest comfortably on his knee while he sat upright.
He was reading about the extinction of the dinosaurs when the lights went out.
For one long moment, he stared at the page and wondered if he might be caught in an extinction event, but then logic took over and he realised that he must have lost track of the time.
He carefully placed his leather bookmark on the page, closed the book and crawled out from beneath the table.
“Hello,” he called, “Is anybody there?”
There was no answer.
He made his way to the front desk, lighting the way with his little pocket torch. The feeble light made the bookshelves seem much larger, and they loomed in a quite unnerving way.
“Hello,” he called, “Please don’t lock up yet, I haven’t left.”
How silly, he thought to himself. Obviously you haven’t left if you’re calling out.
But there was still no answer, and when he reached the front desk he could see nobody around; there were no lights on in the staff room and the big front door was closed.
“Oh dear,” he said to nobody in particular.
After dark, the library was a completely different place. Without the big lights, the shadows of the bookshelves loomed like giant monsters- like dinosaurs, Laurence thought. The big round chandelier in the reading room was a little like an asteroid; no longer brightly lit, as it would have been had it been hurtling through the atmosphere, it now simply hung there, a great black round shadow, ready to deal death and destruction to the bookshelf dinosaurs.
Laurence smiled at the image. How fanciful, he told himself – but he still had to raise his pocket torch and chase away the shadow dinosaurs, even if just for a moment.
Still, there was nothing to be done. He returned to the big table and crawled back underneath, opening the book at his place and picking up where he had left off.
By the time that his mother had contacted the police, and the police had contacted the librarian and the librarian had rushed back with the keys to the big front door, Laurence lay under the table dreaming wondrous dreams about paper dinosaurs decimated by crystal asteroids.
© Kari Fay
(Author’s Note – I must just pause here in the middle of my Alphabet series to say a big thank you to all my readers for keeping me company through two hundred stories! Here’s to many more!)