Overdue Library Books (flash fiction)
The librarian behind the counter was startled as Raymond thudded down the two heavy-looking boxes, and then realization dawned on her as he removed books from the boxes and created columns of books upon the countertop.
“You’re the person,” she said, her wide eyes narrowing down dramatically. “You’re the one who’s had thirty-three books out for four-and-a-half months and who owes in excess of one thousand dollars in overdue fines.”
“Has it been that long?” Raymond wondered.
“Yes, it has. We’ve all been wondering if you’d ever show up.”
“Well, I’m here now. And here are the books.”
Frowning, the librarian asked, “Didn’t you receive our letters of collection for payment?”
He shrugged. “They made good bookmarks.”
Which did not amuse the librarian. “Why didn’t you just purchase the books from a store?”
Raymond shrugged again. “More interaction at the library.”
Her frown deepened. “What? Twice rather than once?”
“Or none, if I bought them online.”
She shook her head, possibly because she had a difficult time believing why he had kept so many library books for so long. Owning books was one thing, but these were borrowed. Her frown finally gone, she asked, “What on earth have you been so busy doing that you couldn’t return these books?”
Raymond blinked at her through his eyeglasses. To the librarian, there was something in those eyes. A yearning and a loneliness, perhaps. An emotion that didn’t come into the light until you were three-quarters through a novel. But maybe, she thought, it was just her imagination.
“I’ve been reading,” he said.