Aug 02
fiction 0 comments challenge: Run

Tap. Tap.

Jillian sat, lightly tapping her pencil against the wooden desk. The desk had begun to rot she noted, tilting her head slightly so she could get a better look at the dark mold that now crept along its underside. She paused for a moment, sucking in a breath before she swept her finger against the mold. It was fuzzy to the touch she noted, different than the mold she had spied on the leaves that morning. She wondered if there was some advantage to the textures, she couldn’t imagine what advantage there would be, but evolution crafted nature with such fine detail, that she imagined there had to be some advantage to a different texture of mold.

Perhaps, that’s a secret you can only find in some old book, hidden away somewhere, she imagined, a grin dancing across her lips. Her mind drifted towards an adventure she would take to find such a book. No doubt such an adventure would be thrilling, filled with danger and challenges, dense forests, massive jungles and deserts, beasts and witches, all set on keeping her from that book, but she would overcome it all in the end. Her grin broadened as she imagined her delight when at last, having bested all the trials thrown at her along her journey, she reached the library where such books were kept.

It must be a grand library, she thought to herself, her grin turning into a more purposeful frown, as she worked out all the little details of such a library. It would have pillars of course, grand, yet intricate, just like the ones Ms. Burgess had shown them in their study of Ancient Greece.

The Greeks had a library too, didn’t they? Jillian puzzled, one lost during war, or wait, was that Egyptians? I suppose it doesn’t much matter in any case. She thought. It was grand, and it was lost all the same. What was its name? Alexia? No, that wasn’t quiet it. Aldia? No, no it started with Alex didn’t it? She queried.

“Jillian! Did you hear me?” Ms. Burgess pressed, her lips were thinner than usual and her hands tight on her hips, as she starred Jillian down. Jillian’s eyes widened, she hadn’t heard her at all, but now didn’t seem like the time to admit that, so for once she let her eyes drift towards the board behind Ms. Burgess.

Unrecognizable shapes, all twisted and deformed, were drawn there. They were nothing like the triangles and squares she previously remembered Ms. Burgess talking about. She bit her lip, as Ms. Burgess, began to tap the floor, rather impatiently. Tap. Tap. Tap. Jillian looked up towards her pleadingly but she made no move to help, instead, she just kept tapping. Tap. Tap. Tap. Jillian wanted to turn to her, to yell at her, that her tapping wasn’t of any help, and of course, Jillian didn’t know what she was talking about. She never did though, even when she was paying attention, so she couldn’t really be blamed could she? Tap. Tap. Tap.

Instead, Jillian just shook her head, ashamed, and Ms. Burgess replaced her foot tapping with a sigh, that if Jillian didn’t know any better, she might have thought held some disappointment. You couldn’t really be disappointed though if you never got your hopes in the first place. Jillian thought bitterly, casting her gaze towards the window.

A couple of kids had gotten out early, and now they were kicking a soccer ball to and fro, on the pavement. The windows muted all but their occasional outbursts, as the ball made its way into their goal. Still, Jillian felt as if she could hear their sneakers against the pavement. Squeak. Squeak. Those noises weren’t as rhythmic as Ms. Burgess tapping, nor as annoying, Jillian thought, letting out a small chuckle, which earned her a disapproving look from Ms. Burgess. It was as if she knew, Jillian mused.

“As I was saying before I was interrupted,” Ms. Burgess began. Jillian didn’t bother to point out to her that she hadn’t been talking about that for quite some time, and had in fact interrupted herself by lecturing Jillian, while she had been quietly in thought.

“The best way to get the area of an irregular shape is…” Jillian’s mind drifted off again, there seemed to be a silent agreement between her and Ms. Burgess that as long as Jillian kept quiet during class, and learned the material on her own, Ms. Burgess wouldn’t pay too much mind to her tendency to bring her imagination to class. In return, Jillian wouldn’t pay too much attention to Ms. Burgess having the opposite habit and droning on, rather endlessly. Their agreement was only occasionally broken when Ms. Burgess felt the need to demonstrate that as the teacher she was deserving of a respect students didn’t get, or Jillian felt the need to point out what she was doing.

Most days she was left to daydream alone, and so her mind drifted back to the library. Alexandria that’s what it was, she hurriedly scribbled the name down, which earned her a surprised look from Ms. Burgess, who seemed to be under the false impression her lecture had somehow interested a student.

I’ll need to look that name up when I get home. Jillian reminded herself. I wonder if it was Greek or Roman. Either way, I wonder if anyone ever found out what it looked like.

Her mind took her back towards the secret library with its tall, yet intricate columns, and winding spiral shelves, that went on as far as the eye could see. There, she imagined, there would be interesting books, not just the ones she needed for homework, and there she would find a book that would tell her why some molds had different textures than others, and how that benefited them.

The book, she knew, must be old, for only an old book would concern itself with such a thing, and it would be dusty too, like all the other books in that library of interesting books, for none of them had been used in such a long time. She grinned as she imagined that the book would have some mold itself, perhaps even on the same page that her answers could be found, for she knew the universe would surely not be able to resist such a perfect little detail.

When she wondered would she be able to go to this library, to sit there and read such books, and answer for herself, all the questions she’d been told not to ask. Not right after school, she knew for she would have homework. Although she pondered, perhaps she could ignore that. Then after the bus ride, or maybe she didn’t even have to wait that long. Her gaze swept the room, with its all too cheerful decorations, plastered onto its all too grim, gray walls. Some mold lingered, there as well, she noted as she looked up towards the clock. It was almost three o’clock.

She grinned, as she looked towards the kids outside. They were still playing soccer on the cracked asphalt. Squeak. Squeak. Then there was a rumble. Then a drop. Then another. Pit Pat. Pit Pat. Their gazes all turned up towards the grey clouds, a couple cursed, but they all rushed to get back inside. Pit Pat. One raced back for the soccer ball, but for the rest, their steps became more routine. Squeak. Squeak.

Their footsteps were only slightly off in rhythm from the Tap. Tap. Tap. of Ms. Burgess’ steps. It was like a child, trying to mimic a piece of music they don’t know that well, distorted but still identifiable.

Ring. The bell rung out, clear and sharp. Students clambered and jostled, pushing in chairs, as Ms. Burgess pointed towards the board with their homework on it. Laughter and voices called back to Jillian, but still, she found that all that noise was still set to the Squeak. Squeak. of sneakers in the school hallways. In that moment Jillian knew she would not burst forth from the school, and race across the pavement in some mad dash, rather she would fall into the line of squeaking sneakers that shuffled towards the bus. And in that moment, the library slipped from her hands and fell back into the ancient sands of Eygpt once more.