The Untitled Librarian
by Vernitra Jones
I’m Vernitra, a writer, librarian, and book blogger in Houston, Texas. I started writing “The Untitled Librarian,” a fictional story about a public librarian who finds herself on an unexpected adventure, on my phone while lying in bed Saturday morning, March 30, 2019. I thought it would be fun to share my process making up the story and revising as I go. As of right now, I don’t know where the story is going, how long it will be, or how it will end. I’m also writing a novel which I hope to complete within the next decade.
WEBSITE | http:/Vernitra.com
This version was published on Sunday, March 31, 2019. ©️ Vernitra Jones. All rights reserved. This is a draft, a work-in-progress. Read the most updated version on my website http://vernitra.com and follow updates on Instagram @vernitrasbookclub, using hashtag #TheUntitledLibrarian.
The Untitled Librarian
by Vernitra Jones
For nearly two months, librarian Olivia James had eaten a chopped-beef baked potato every day for lunch. That crisp February afternoon, she emerged from the library to begin yet another lunch break. Clothed in a cream colored wool coat perfect for the mild Houston winter, she appreciated the slight chill in the air and the warmth of the sunshine on her chocolate face. Filled with hunger and anticipation, she walked the short distance to the local barbecue joint.
When she arrived, she took comfort in the familiar wood-crafted coziness of the restaurant. It was decorated in reds, whites, and blues, and assorted shapes of the state of Texas covered every surface. An old 90s Garth Brooks country song played from the speakers that day, but the musical selections varied and could swing from country to Celine Dion to Jay-Z, depending on who the manager on duty was at the moment.
Upon seeing Olivia, the familiar faces behind the counter welcomed her with mirth and immediately began preparing her hot, oversized spud. They stuffed it with succulent chopped beef and two ice-cream scoops of yellow cow’s butter. She exchanged her usual pleasantries with the workers and willingly handed over her meager library earnings to the cashier, who presented her with the brown paper sack containing the fatty, starch-filled delight. She said her goodbyes, exchanging one last smile with everyone, and started her return trip to the library.
Back in the library, after settling into her work cubicle, she unwrapped the plastic fork and used it to incorporate the beef and butter into the chunky white insides of the potato. Once everything had been adequately mixed, she allowed the first forkful of buttery, beef-filled potato into her mouth. As she indulged in the meal, repeatedly digging into the massive mound, warm, translucent yellow grease seeped from the foil hugging the potato and began to soak into the bottom of the cardboard container. Olivia grabbed a few sheets from the stack of surplus library event flyers she kept on her desk–these from a recent mystery book-club meeting–and shoved them underneath the container to protect the desktop from its greasy bottom.
Though she resented the brevity of the lunch hour, Olivia did her best to savor every second. While she ate, she watched an episode of “Martin” online, the one in which Martin suddenly becomes a health freak. Listening through headphones connected to her computer so as not to disturb her office mates, she softly chuckled to herself as Martin engaged in his usual shenanigans. However, when Martin began leading an aerobics class and stood one-legged on top of an aerobic step platform, vigorously flapping his arms like a deranged turkey, Olivia could do nothing to contain the loud burst of laughter and bits of potato that escaped from her mouth. She did her best to clean up the spittage with a napkin. Finishing the episode and half of the potato, she carefully packaged the remaining part and used a black marker to label it with a pseudonym–this typically being the stage name of some showbiz luminary, today it was Judy Garland. She stood up, walked across the small adult reference department office to the mini-refrigerator in the corner and stored the potato, to be enjoyed for the next day’s lunch.
Sitting back in her cubicle chair, with ten minutes left before she was due on the reference desk, Olivia was suddenly overcome by a heavy emotional uneasiness, one she hadn’t felt for quite some time.
T o B e C o n t i n u e d . . .