5 pm. No chatter, no giggle, no laughter inside the room quiet as a chapel. Unnerving. Clement Moore could well have imagined Keys Library in 1823 when he wrote “'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house … not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…” Gone the students who huddle to finish their homework. Gone the gameboard players who argue over dice, points and rules. Gone the bookworms who borrow books for the long weekend. Skip, hop and tumble the papers, pens, and crayons. Pillows and chairs knocked to the ground like fallen palm trees after a storm. Only the books remain - exhausted, mute, and disheveled – to breathe the silence.
“Why,” I ask, “our work never finished?” Dalyn smiles. Always my assistant smiles at questions without answers. I pick up a library card on the floor. I read the book titles written on it. The dates too. Wow, a book lover. “Who is he?”
“Peace, Grade 3,” Dalyn grins. She knows all the students in Keys. Names and grade levels. Their parents too.
I turn the card. Only five books more to get a new one. “Two books he can borrow on his second card, yes?”
“That’s his second.”
“S-se-second???” I add the books he had already borrowed. I write the numbers in the air. “Twenty in one card. Another twenty, less 5.”
“35 books.” Dalyn smiles again. She probably wonders how I came to be her boss. I envy people with mental math DNA.
“35 a month? Grade 3?” Impressive.
“Borrows every two days. With his mom.”
“Always Geronimo Stilton?”
I stare at card. Shaky handwriting but all titles spelt correctly. No missing letter. Amazing. “Call me next time he borrows.” I cant wait for Monday to meet this bookworm who just blipped in my radar. And his Mom too.