The summers are always bad. Alone, day after day. Constantly worrying that Humdrum will attack. Maybe, just a bit, wanting him to attack. It would give me something to do other than sit around and make lists of things not to think about.
This summer is worse though. For one, it’s SO HOT! This care home doesn’t have any fans, let alone an A.C. It doesn’t seem to have much of anything in it. Other than people of course. There are so many kids, and so little food, and beds, and space. Most of the care homes are bad, but this is next-level bad. I’ve been trying to avoid it by staying outside, but it’s so sunny and my skin gets all burnt and peely. I never thought I would complain about England being sunny, but it's unbearable. There are little flakes coming off my nose from all the sunburns, and my freckles have never been more noticeable. If Baz were here he would definitely make fun of me for it.
If I can’t spend the day outside, and I hate being in the care home, my only other option is to go into a store or café. I tried that for the first week of summer, but I kept getting dirty looks for my torn up clothes, and after a while when they realized I wasn’t going to buy anything, they kicked me out.
After about a week of wandering around and hanging out on shady park benches, I finally found the perfect solution to my problems. Public libraries! They’re open most of the day, they’re free, and they have air conditioning!
There’s a library a couple blocks down from the care home. It’s pretty, made of red bricks which are covered in ivy. The glass door is much harder to open than I was expecting, and I have to adjust my stance and pull on it a second time to get it open. I can just imagine Baz standing there laughing at me. Crowley Snow, how do you plan on saving the World of Mages if you can’t even open a door? I shake my head to get rid of his voice. Shaking my head makes me miss my curls. They would bounce all over my forehead every time I moved. I shaved them off before summer though. I always shave my head before I go to a care home. Too much risk of getting lice, and a waste of shampoo.
The cold air inside the library washes over me, dragging me out of my thoughts. I breathe a sigh of relief, then wipe away the bead of sweat that was sliding down my face. There is a water fountain near me, and I bend down to drink from it. The water feels so refreshing after being in that hot sun.
There is one issue with my solution, I realize as I’m walking through the aisles of books. I don’t exactly enjoy reading books. There weren’t really many books to read for fun at the care homes, and at Watford we mostly read boring old stuff, like Shakespeare. We read SO MUCH Shakespeare. I pull a random book off the shelf, And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie. I think I’ve heard Penny mention this book. It doesn’t look very interesting though. Maybe I should go to the children’s section and find myself a comic book.
The children's section looks considerably more inviting. There is a little reading nook with a couple couches and window benches, and there are even cute stuffed animals on top of the bookshelves. On top of the comic book section, there's a big plush green dragon. He's got stubby little arms and a giant yellow belly. I can’t help but wish I had been given something like him as a little kid. I suppose I had my little red ball, but that's not quite as cute as the dragon.
I spend most of my afternoon curled up on that little couch reading a comic book called Suit Your Seflie. It's funny, and way less boring than those long books looked. The main characters, Pig and Rat, actually remind me a lot of Baz and I. Rat has Baz’s mean sarcastic remarks, and Pig loves food. The little Baz voice in my head reminds me that Pig is also an idiot, just like me. I tell it to shut up. The only real differences are that Rat is tiny compared to Pig, in real life Baz is three inches taller than me, and that Pig and Rat seem to actually be friends. Crowley, can you imagine that? Me and Baz being friends? I think if we had even one conversation where neither of us said anything mean the world would implode.
I don’t even realize how much time has passed until an old lady who I assume is a librarian comes up to me. She has her gray hair up in a bun, and her glasses are hanging around her neck by a thin chain decorated in beads the same shade of pinky purple as her cardigan. She has a name tag, but it's starting to fall off her shirt, so it takes me a second to read. I think her name is either Marie or Maria. I can’t quite tell what the last letter is. It’s a five letter word Snow. A toddler would be able to read it.
“Hello dear, I’m just letting you know that we’re going to close soon. Would you like to check that book out?”
“Oh, um no that’s alright. I finished it.”
“Okay then, have good evening young man.”
She smiles at me, her light brown skin wrinkling around her eyes as she does, then she walks back to the front desk.
Her kindness kinda makes me want to cry, which makes me feel stupid because our conversation lasted for like 30 seconds, but I haven’t had a conversation with someone who genuinely seems to care about me since the end of the school year. Even back then there wasn’t a whole lot of happy conversation, mostly just panic about the fact that the humdrum can just summon me whenever he wants.
It was terrible, but somehow I miss it.