I am a fool. I can't reach the top shelves of my library, but every day I stand up and try to slot just that very last book that I've sorted. I never learn.
First, I stretch my arm and shoulder as far as they will go, but it's never enough. Next, I step on the first level above the ground, hoping that that will be enough. Finally, just as the book tilts over the lip and starts to glide into place, the shelves wobble and I freeze.
I end up calling for help until someone comes in and helps me down the not-even-six-inch gap, because I, Mary, am afraid of being crushed by books. The Goddess knows it's happened before, and she'll probably will it to happen again. Such is life.
Today, I'm yelling extra loud, because the shelves under the stairs are extra high and I'm a full - gasp - foot off the ground. "Help me, please," I say, still polite because no one wants to rescue a rude person. I lean back, looking at the door, willing it to open to reveal my daddy or my mom or even my best friend Jack. It doesn't open. I'm stuck here.
I yell only once every thirty seconds or so now, since it's been about half an hour and my arms are getting tired from balancing me and my throat is hoarse and strained. That's a shame; I had wanted to audition to be the Singer in this year's Autumn Festival, instead of the Organ Player that has her back to the audience and no one notices.
To keep myself occupied and my mind off the pain settling in my stiff joints, I read each title on the shelf that's level with my eyes and try to remember the plot to that particular one. I'm iffy on the second to last one, but that's an English-Kappa dictionary and it was a slow read anyhow. Once I finish that, I read over each of the author's names and try to name at least of their other works in the Library and name the shelf it's on. It calms me down.
Now the intervals are a minute or so, and I try to count each second as it goes by, but that doesn't work so I try to recite as many of the Psalms of Bounty that I know. Only thirty. That only took up about twenty minute's worth of time.
How long have I been up here, my knees pressed forward again the spines of the book on that level, and forehead resting against the edge of the wood along another, and my hands held in a cramping, tiring position for at least two hours, maybe three.
I'm tired and a fool.
I have only a very few friends: Elli because she visits her grandma, Ellen, next door on Wednesdays; Stu because he comes in and asks for coloring books on Mondays when his own best friend is with her grandpa; Doctor because he's always looking for new books on diseases; Grey because he likes to talk sometimes. Everyone else is just a random face of someone that helped me down that one time or another. I hardly know them.
All I really have are my books, and they're the ones that got me into this mess in the first place. 'Why don't you stack the books up with a stool, Mary?' Stu once asked me. I spent a very long time explaining the rarity and fragility of a third edition Nietzsche. I don't think he understood, or was even listening.
I'm still calling, but weakly, infrequently. I skip meals in the Library, so I haven't eaten since dinner yesterday and my vision's a little blurry. As my glasses fogging up? No, they've just slipped half off my right ear and they're hanging askew. Blast.
My legs are ready to give out, and my arms certainly won't be holding me up. They're slipping down already, do you see?
My feet leave the shelf. My hands slip all the way off. I am weightless of a moment, and then I'm standing normally and I've survived the Fall to end all Falls.
My legs collapsing under me is somewhat anti-climactic. Such is how I come to faint on the floor.
I open my eyes to a crowd of people in the Clinic. It's everyone, literally every single person in town has come and they each have a decidedly sneaky air about them.
I mumble, "Good morning," blushing furiously and casting around with my hands for my glasses. They magically appear in my hands and I slip them on. That's better.
Oh wait. That can't be right.
There's a beautiful little stool carved with my name on the edge sitting on the bed with me.
"Surprise!" They all roar, and I can hear all of them saying, at one time or another, 'I'll help you down.'
Grey steps forward and says with a mock-bow, "Mary, on behalf of the entire town, we award you a stool so that you can be safe and sound again. Will you accept it?"
"Ye-yeah, I guess so…"
The entire crowd throws up some sort of applause. And I was touched, because I don't know these people very well, yet still they have been patient and helped me through these years. I have so many different friends now…
Have I always had them? I wonder. I'm so very happy now...