Librarian Helps With Check Out

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
Librarian is pushed to the limits...

Submitted: January 01, 2009

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Submitted: January 01, 2009

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Gretchen traced the fine lines at the corners of her eyes. As her fingers dropped to the sunken hollows of her cheeks, she became young again. The reflection of Papa, sitting in his bed with the Taneka Tribune and his breakfast disappeared and she was in her own room --- staring at rosy cheeks, eager eyes. 

Twenty years ago she was dressing for her last date with her fiancé Graham. She remembered the breathless anticipation, the queasy in-love feeling. She didn’t know it would be their last date. They argued. Said things they didn’t mean. She kept waiting for him to call, but he never did. She wanted to call him but Papa said it wasn’t ladylike. She always wondered what might have been … if she had had the courage.

  The years dragged by. She followed Graham’s political career and his recent mayorship of nearby Oakdale. And, of course, his marriage, his children. Gretchen was the director of the Tankea library.

“Gretchen,” her father’s voice brought her back to the present, “look whose in the paper again. Your old beau, Graham…”
Gretchen grabbed the Tribune and stared at the picture of Graham and his family.

Papa chuckled. “Well, things worked out for the best, you know. Graham got himself a proper political wife, you got your good job, and I got you home to take care of me.”

“You know Irene takes care of you all day, Papa.” Irene was the nurse who had taken care of him since his stroke.

It’s not the same as having my precious daughter with me. Anyway, I’m glad now about what I did.”

“What do you mean, papa?” Gretchen fluffed the pillows under the flattened skull.

“He wasn’t the man for you, precious.” He wiped a chunk of strawberry jam from the edge of his mouth. “And I told him, too, when he called here wanting to get you back.”

“What do you mean you told…? He called here, Papa?’ She clutched the corner post of the bed, her knuckles turning white.
Papa shifted uncertainly in the bed, newspapers rustling, the breakfast tray pushed aside onto the patchwork quilt. “That fool called here, even wrote you letters. I threw ‘em out. Didn’t need to be confusing you. You had your life here, your schooling. He wanted to take you away from here. I wasn’t going to have it. And things worked out just grand.” Papa looked up expectantly.

Gretchen’s eyes dropped to the photo of Graham. She pictured herself in place of his wife – combing her daughter’s hair, straightening the little ruffles on her socks. Kissing her son’s cheek. Sharing a private smile with her husband. Smiling for the camera.
The years paraded by her – the long, lonely evenings. Watching the lines in her face etch a picture of a lonely woman.

“Precious, what’s wrong?” Papa asked

“You – you, “Gretchen sputtered. “All this time, all I’ve done for you. How could you? What kind of a monster are you?”
She grabbed a pillow from the bed and held it against her chest. Blood rushed to her head. The suffocating room spun around. She realized this man had cost her everything. All her dreams had plummeted, supplanted with a nightmare world with her father. She pressed the pillow against his shocked face and pushed, pushed till she couldn’t hear his plaintive voice, pushed till she couldn’t see his face. Held down until the energy left her body and she collapse on the bed next to Papa.


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