By CF Winn
Birds in general are good luck, especially if they build their nests in the south. Swallows for example, build their nests under the eaves of houses and represent success or future fortune. Do encourage birds into your garden by providing food, shelter, and water.
-Workman Publishing Feng Shui Calendar
Sunday, November 12, 2006
The woman behind the desk reaches out and takes my library card. The veins in her hand are raised and blue. They branch out like rivers under her skin and disappear into her bony wrist.
Instinctively, I know that six months from now she’ll be in the hospital. Those veins will be the only way she can eat. Although nutrients will be pumped into her body to keep her alive, her vacant eyes will give away the fact that she’s already long dead.
After two weeks and no visitors, the staff will consider pulling her plug. No one will come forward to stop them, and the lonely guy that waited outside for her after work will still be free. He’ll be unemployed and he’ll never get back the eighty-five dollars she made him pay for losing the Body Double movie, (he always had a thing for Melanie Griffith) but at least the nastiest librarian ever will have gotten hers. If only her co workers had liked her enough to wait with her while she locked up, there might have been a witness.
For now, she smiles as she scans the card. Her two front teeth slant in toward one another.
She says my name, “Samantha?”
I notice that the teeth are stained with bright pink lipstick. I nod at her in acknowledgement and wonder if I should tell her to wipe them, but as I open my mouth, she does the unthinkable. She pulls out a large pair of shearing scissors and SNIPS! my card into tiny pieces. She cackles as the scraps drop like confetti into the tiny trash pail next to her foot. The cutting sounds are so loud that I have to hold my ears till it’s over. It’s clear that she takes great pleasure in my pain. Now I understand why that lonely guy will beat her head on the cement till it pops open. Her skull will ooze liquid blackness long after he laughs mockingly at her and runs into the woods behind the library.
I’m glad I don’t tell her about the lipstick. I wickedly hope the patrons give her a hard time because she’s careless with her appearance. Nobody likes the ugly girl.
That’s all I’ve got right now; pink smudges and the knowledge of what’s to come.
Finally, instead of giving me the books I’m borrowing, she hands me a paper bag full of shiny red apples. There’s about a dozen, and the package is heavy when I lift it. I hope the bag doesn’t rip from the weight.
The sack crinkles loudly, but I don’t question the mistake.
She pulls a wadded up tissue from the sleeve of her cardigan and rolls it into a nose pick. She pushes it up into her nostril and prods around till she finds a large piece of booger. She watches me while picking out the offending debris, and as I leave, she balls the tissue back up and slips it into its spot just below her elbow. The dirt and bacteria settle into her body heat as if it’s a warm, cozy, bed.
My stomach rumbles. At first I think she’s made me sick, but then I realize I’m just hungry. I decide to eat an apple as soon as I get to my car.