The Librarian

Every shelf in the Library’s cavernous aisles is stacked with worlds and universes, full of life, and also of death. Nobody ever checks out any books from there, though. Nor are there any avid readers wandering around inside, casually flicking through pages while speaking to each other in hushed tones. The Library has existed for as long as anyone can remember, growing in size over untold years (or is it millennia?), a beast that subsists on knowledge and can never be satisfied. And deep in its silently beating heart sits the Librarian. He is the keeper of stories, a guardian of fiction and fact. He was there once upon a time and he will be there happily ever after, though he cannot say if it will be happy or not.

The Librarian has seen the Library’s foundation being laid. He will see its last stone crumble to dust. He has seen babies cradled in their mothers’ arms and old men laying on their deathbeds. He has seen lovers light up the dance floor and enemies scorch the battlefield. Heroes fighting villains; teenagers navigating their lives through friendship and love; regular folks grappling with careers and relationships, hoping to find happiness. The Librarian has seen them all, page after page, chapter after chapter.

He finishes reading the life of a famous radio personality with a dysfunctional family; the poor man dies alone and his family feuds over his assets before the body’s even gone cold. The Librarian sighs and closes the book. The family’s stories will have to wait for another day; perhaps he’ll read some lighter fare next. He returns the book to its shelf where it will be put away for good, never to be read again.

Endings are usually the problem. Some stories take their time building toward an inevitable conclusion, others are cut short abruptly; so many of them are tragedies. He had quite enjoyed the one about the dinosaurs, but was disappointed with how it ended. Asteroid impacts seemed like a cheap storytelling device. His chair creaks a welcome as he settles back into it, exhausted from today’s reading. He glances at the giant tome sitting on one side of his desk: The Saga of Humanity. That one’s been an ongoing project; he reads a handful of chapters every few years, but is no closer to the end. Sometimes, he finds himself tempted to peek at the ending, but that would spoil the surprise. He’ll pick it up again in a year or two and see how the story’s progressed.

The Librarian removes his glasses and rubs his temples, leaning back. Tomorrow he will once again explore new worlds, new lives. He hopes that at least some endings will be happy as he closes his eyes and drifts off into a sleep without dreams.

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Work Weather

The workplace is a vast and busy ocean. Instead of ships, it is ruled by desks, each with a one-man crew that is ever fearful of the sharks of management and the shipwrecks of downed internet connections. When I first started my job, I captained my desk through stagnant waters, passing time until the end of the day. As the days passed, I could feel the wind picking up.There was activity all around me, and a cloud loomed on the horizon, promising a downpour of work, but there was nothing that demanded my attention just yet.

Then the storm came. Poseidon unleashed his managerial fury as a whirlwind of proposals, deadlines, proofreading and revisions were upon me. Everyone swam by my desk, giving me something new to add or something old to delete as I tried to stay afloat. The deadline was fast approaching (and yet, strangely, not fast enough?) and the storm would be over soon, but would we all make it through? Would everything be finished on time? Uncertainty reigned as the winds of (format) change blew ever stronger, battering me from all sides. And just as we all gasped to take a breath, the sun broke through. The storm had passed and all our work was complete. Oh glorious day!

So now I return to my life of tranquility and, to some extent, ennui. The activity around me is starting to pick up again. There are clients to meet and sales to be made. But not for me. My desk remains a gently bobbing boat in a turbulent sea. Oh, there is the occasional gust of work that blows my way; a small proposal here, an official letter there. Mostly though, the sky remains clear and the forecast sunny.