Title: Seeking Knowledge
Source: Mid-Week Flash Challenge
Word count: 740 words
Virginia’s acclimation to her surroundings and the oddities of this dimension took a while. She was alone. Nobody willing attached themselves to this place. Bridget stopped, checking on her and encouraging her to move to the New York City Public Library, the place true bibliophiles called home.
The problem was Virginia didn’t know how to travel. Still, the tiny Yangzhou library offered interesting texts. Ninety percent were in Chinese, but she was learning. It helped when she concentrated. Engrossed in a book, time stopped. Bridget had confirmed the phenomenon was normal.
Today, Virginia discovered an alarming fact. She had read every volume, and she needed more reading material. Traveling to New York left her in a panic and covered in icy sweats. It had been too long since she had seen her friend and Virginia was growing concerned and bored. She diverted herself with the young woman who managed the circulations desk. She moved items when she wasn’t looking, knocking books onto the floor. They made a loud bang and startled the poor girl.
Virginia repositioned a stack of publications behind the girl’s left elbow. As the unsuspecting girl turned, she smacked the pile, and it toppled. She jumped from her chair and squealed. The sounds echoed through the hushed library, and Virginia smiled.
“This is how you amuse yourself?” Bridget asked, startling Virginia.
“Oh,” her face flushed pink. “You’re here. It’s been forever. Where have you been hiding?”
“I stopped a few times, but you were always reading. I didn’t want to disturb you. Now you’re playing tricks on the dimensionally challenged?” Bridget’s eyebrow lifted. She pursed her lips in a funny half frown and wrinkled her nose as if she had inhaled a disgusting odor.
“I… I’ve run out of books to read,” Virginia admitted as she leaned against the counter.
“What have I been telling you?”
“NYPL,” Virginia rocked her head back and forth as she enunciated each letter.
“Go ahead. Mock me. I’ve got a guy who can get you a tablet.”
“A tablet. The one-dimensionals invented it. It’s a magical black slate. Swipe your finger across the surface and tons of reading material appear right there. You don’t have to trek to the different repositories.” Bridget paused, glancing at the young woman who had now re-stacked the books on the counter. “Or you can stay here, re-read everything and—” she waved her hand towards the girl who had resumed her place, “amuse yourself with these… tricks.”
“I can’t travel.”
“Have you tried?”
Virginia examined her black patent leather shoes.
“Will you teach me?”
They started with short distances, from one bookshelf to the next. They soon progressed to traveling across the library. Virginia found it both frightening and exhilarating. There was also the promise of the magical black slate, forcing her to continue. She began to enjoy traveling and wondered why she hadn’t tried sooner. She closed her eyes preparing for another trip when Bridget touched her sleeve.
“I think you’ve got this.”
Virginia blinked, her stomach lurched, and her hands shook.
“Are you sure? I mean, shouldn’t I practice something shorter before I try to go halfway around the world?” Virginia’s voice quivered, and she took a step away from Bridget.
“There’s no difference. If you can do this, you can get to New York,” Bridget said as she rested her arm on Virginia’s shoulder.
Virginia breathed and forced herself to stare into Bridget’s eyes.
“Are you sure?”
“Positive. I’ll be next to you. You’re a natural. Everything will be fine.”
Bridget scanned her friend’s face, then seemed to reach a decision.
“You trust me, right?”
“You want that tablet, don’t you?”
Virginia couldn’t control herself, her face broke into a huge smile and she laughed.
“It sounds so cool,” she gushed, “I’ve got to see it. If I could have one, one of my very own? And I could read anything I wanted?”
Bridget chuckled and patted her friend’s shoulder.
“Yeah. I told you, I know a guy. He’s one-dimensional, and he lives in New York. Are we doing this or…”
“Ok, ok,” Virginia clasped Bridget’s hand and danced like a child. Her stomach flip-flopped and she willed it to stop.
Bridget grabbed her forcing her to stand still.
“Ready? Let’s go.”
A gentle breeze drifted through the tiny Yangzhou library. The girl at the checkout desk experienced pangs of sadness and regret for reasons she couldn’t fully understand.
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer