Amy didn’t want to go home while she was still crying. Mother would lock her in the closet if she explained that she had just wanted to talk to that boy when all those girls showed up and started calling her names. Amy didn’t want to talk to the boy because he was handsome. She wanted to talk to him because he was always nice to her and because he was the best in her biology class after her. She thought they could study together some time. She still thought he might have said yes. Even if it was because he was sure to get an A without having to do all of the work.
Wiping her eyes, Amy walked to the park. It might be safe to stay near the playground where people might be a little less inclined to give her a hard time in front of the moms playing with their little kids. It was a trick she learned about a year ago. It wasn’t foolproof, but it worked better than almost anything else she had tried.
That was until she heard the crack of thunder overhead. It was starting to rain, and Amy felt a sob rock through her chest. Now she was going to have to go home. Mother might believe that her flighty daughter took a while to walk home or got distracted by the flowers. She wouldn’t believe that Amy had taken so long to get home in the rain.
That was until Amy saw the library. Her mother didn’t usually let Amy go there unless she was along because she liked to keep a close eye on what Amy read. Still, Amy could make up an excuse about trying to wait out the rain there. Maybe she would even see if there was a phone to call her mother and explain that she had been caught in the rain.
Amy grabbed the handle to the giant door and pulled with all of her weight. It opened and she slipped inside.
“Hello there,” a friendly older woman said as she watched the scrawny eleven year old look around. Other than Amy, the library had been pretty dead all afternoon.
“Hi,” Amy said meekly. She barely managed to look the woman in the eyes.
“Oh, dear. What’s wrong?” the librarian asked. It was clear that the little girl was upset.
“It’s this thing. There’s a boy,” Amy started.
“Boy trouble. I see,” the librarian interrupted. Amy thought about explaining that it wasn’t really boy trouble, but she kind of enjoyed that this woman believed that Amy was the kind of girl to even have boy trouble. She nodded.
“You know what a girl like you needs right now? Jane Austen,” the librarian said as she ushered Amy further into the building. Amy followed along even though she didn’t know exactly what inspired such kindness from this stranger.
“You seem like you could use some Mr. Darcy,” the librarian said as she handed Amy a copy of Pride and Prejudice. Amy flipped through the book. She had heard of it, but her mother hadn’t let her read it.
“I don’t have a library card,” Amy muttered. Mother had a library card that she used to check out the children’s books she allowed Amy to read.
“Oh. That’s easy enough to fix. Come on.” The librarian smiled and started back to the front of the library. She handed Amy a small form that she had to fill out in order to get her very own library card.
“Does my mother need to sign for this?”
“How old are you?”
“Write twelve and this will be our secret. You just have to be a little older to get your own card, but I trust you.”
“Thanks,” Amy told her. She did as the woman said and lied about her age. Amy never lied about anything, so she giggled as she wrote “12” on the paper and handed it over. Then she realized that she never called her mother, so she inquired about a phone. The librarian let Amy come around the desk to make her call.
“Mother, I know I’m late, but it started raining, so I ran into the library… No, I know I should have called you immediately… I’m sorry… No. I promise it won’t happen again… Thank you.”
“Here is your new library card, Miss Fowler, and here is your book. It’s due back in two weeks. If you have any questions, I am Miss Peterson,” the librarian told her with a kind smile. “Actually, I am Miss Peterson even if you don’t have any questions,” she added in a joking tone. Amy gave her an appreciative giggle.
“Thank you, Miss Peterson. I have to go wait outside for my mother now,” Amy said with a little wave. Then she put the book in her backpack and walked back to the heavy doors to shove them open.
Amy stood, shivering in the rain, for nearly twenty minutes while Miss Peterson looked on, concerned. She almost made the little girl come back in when her mother finally showed up. She honked impatiently even though Amy was already running to the car. Miss Peterson decided to keep an eye out for that little girl if she were to show up again.