She headed to the library, trying to hide a yawn as she crossed the road. She hadn't been sleeping well lately. Any attempt to spice up her boring life had just left her tired and more depressed than before. Entering the library, she found that it wasn't as busy as the last time she was there and she figured that staying to read the next book might not be a bad idea. She didn't have anything else to do anyway. With a sigh, she returned the book and turned to the numerous bookcases in the library. Surely there was something that would make it clear what she could do to live an exciting life. She ran her finger across the backs of the books, letting her eyes glide over the titles as she did.
Her entire life she'd spent reading books. Every waking moment she was immersed in some form of fantasy world. This, in turn, meant she hadn't experienced that much of real life. To make up for that she was determined to find a way to boost herself straight into an exciting life, just like the main characters in the books. She got a book from the shelf and sat down at an empty table, nodding to herself.
'23 Ways to live an exciting life.' This one seemed like a good way to get some ideas.
After a while, someone gently nudged her and she groaned involuntarily as she opened her eyes, realizing she'd fallen asleep.
“Sorry to bother you when you were sleeping.” A handsome, spectacled man was looking down at her. “Our library will be closing soon. The counter tends to get crowded, so please hurry.”
“O-oh I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to fall asleep, I-”
“I beg your pardon, but you've been to our library several times before, correct?” The man completely ignored her apologies.
“Y-yes, that's right.”
“Ah, I thought so.”
“You can tell?”
“Yes, I tend to remember most of our patron's faces.”
“Oh, that's quite amazing.”
“No, it's nothing, really. I observe what our patrons like to read and help them discover a wonderful new book.” He looked around. “That is one of my important duties as a librarian.” He turned back to her.
“Therefore, one day I'll select a book for y-” He glanced at the book in front of her. It lay closed on the table and her attempt at hiding it so he couldn't see failed miserably, nearly flinging the book off the table.
“23 Ways to live an exciting life.” He pushed his glasses further up onto his nose. “I see, so you want to live an exciting life. That is what you want, correct?”
“W-well, I suppose I do.” She was growing increasingly uncomfortable at how forward he was. He slid a tiny picture book about kittens her way with a kind of knowing look on his face.
“Then I recommend this. It is a book about kittens I'm sure you'll find exciting.” She picked up the book, looking at him and back again. Sure, kittens were cute and nice to look at, but that's not how she would define 'exciting'. He looked out the window.
“It may not be any of my business, but you seem rather tired.”
“Yeah, I've had trouble sleeping lately.” Wait, that's not something to tell a stranger. “Once again, I'm really sorry for falling asleep here, it wasn't my intention.”
“It's quite a feat to fall asleep in a place like this and to be awoken by a stranger.” Again, his voice had this 'I know' edge to it.
“I apologize if I've offended you. I've been told by my co-workers that I'm too honest.”
“No not at all. I shouldn't have fallen asleep here. And being honest is a good trait, so don't worry about it.” She looked at the book in her hands. “Thank you for the suggestion, but I don't think kittens are going to make my life more exciting.” She just talked about honesty, so she could hardly lie to him herself now. For a split second she swore she saw him look incredibly offended, but he shrugged it off just as quickly.
“Perhaps I can-”
“Mochizuki! I need your help over here for a bit!” A voice quietly yelled from the counter area.
“I'm sorry, I'll be right back.” He was gone before she could say goodbye.
'That was an exciting moment, at least.' She thought with a shrug as she looked at the little picture book and opened it, finding that the first picture did indeed make her heart beat a bit faster.
After going through the book twice, she put it to the side and looked out the window with a wistful sigh. This day was undoubtedly more exciting than the past few had been, thanks to the mysterious librarian and his suggestion. Still, it wasn't quite what she was looking for. She stood, taking the little book with her, and walked over to the checkout. As she expected, the man was standing behind the counter, but there were no customers. He looked up when he noticed her.
“I found a book you might find more exciting than the one I previously recommended.” He said happily as he took a book from under the counter and held it out to her.
'He's kidding...' She thought as she stared at the puppy picture book in his hands. Not wanting to be rude, she took it and handed the other one back to him.
“Well I suppose I'll give this one a go then, thank you.” He seemed totally oblivious to the fact that neither kittens nor puppies were going to help her issues.
“I hope this makes your life a little more exciting.” He said happily as he checked her out and waved as she exited the library.
'Who knows.' She thought as she started flipping through the picture book.
Because there wasn’t anything substantial in the book and she’d been staring at it for the past night, she decided to pay the library another visit the day after. Just to return this book, or so she convinced herself.
“Ah, welcome back, Alice.” The man, Mochizuki, greeted her as soon as he noticed her entering.
“How do you know my name?” She asked as she squinted her eyes.
“I noticed on your library card. Would you prefer I did not use it?” He asked. She shook her head.
“No, that’s alright, if you don’t mind me calling you Mochizuki.”
“It is my name after all.” He nodded. “Did the book I recommended make your life more exciting?” He inquired. She shook her head.
“I don’t think that baby animals are going to make my life more exciting,” she decided to cull any further attempts of baby animal books, “but thank you very much for trying, though, I really appreciate the effort.” She smiled half-heartedly, handed him the book, and started making her way to the first bookcase. Much to her surprise, he didn’t speak to her, or even follow her. For a moment she was genuinely worried that she might’ve hurt his feelings, but those feelings washed away instantly when she spotted him staring at her through an empty space in the bookcase.
“How about this one?” He pushed one book on his side, causing one on hers to be pushed as well. She took it from the shelf and had to suppress an eyeroll.
“Great battles of history.” She muttered. Sure, she liked history, but battles of old weren’t going to make her current life any more exciting. Was he indirectly suggesting LARP, maybe? She shook her head. No, no way. She wasn’t even interested in that, so there was no point anyway.
“No?” She looked up, seeing his puppy eyes staring at her.
“I-I’m sorry, I think I need a lifestyle change, rather than … these things.” She wasn’t sure how to describe it, because she didn’t really know what she was looking for either.
“Lifestyle…” She heard him mutter just before he walked off again. She put the book back with a sigh and headed over to the fantasy section. Until something exciting would happen, she figured she could just lose herself again in the countless fantasy worlds that existed within the library. She had read many of the books already, but she managed to find a few that were still unknown to her, and eagerly took one to the table to start reading.
“Excuse me.” The words snapped her out of her vivid dream of the book and she nearly fell off her chair in fear. Mochizuki was standing by her table, several lifestyle magazines tucked under his arm.
“Yes?” She managed as she straightened her vest and rubbed her eyes.
“You mentioned a lifestyle change. I am certain that these can help with that.” He put down the stack of magazines. She’d already read through several of these online in an attempt to find something, but the advice was so generic that it didn’t really fit her.
“Look, I’ve said it before, I really really appreciate it, but I’ve decided that it’s just not for me. I’m not supposed to live an exciting life myself. I’m only supposed to read about others who do have that. So could you please stop helping me?” After she said it, she realized that it sounded kind of harsh. She looked up at him and saw him frowning at the stack of magazines.
“I am very sorry, but I will not stop. It is my duty as a librarian to satisfy all our customers. I will not rest until you can live an exciting life.”
“You’re going to have to wait a long time, pal, because I don’t think it’s happening any time soon.” With that, she turned back to her book. She certainly admired his tenacity and willingness to help, but his ‘solutions’ in the way they were now were never going to give her an exciting life.
When she finished the book, the sun outside was setting and the lights inside turned on. She looked at the clock and saw that it was near closing time. She slowly started getting her things when she noticed a note on the table a little ways away from her. She hadn’t even noticed anyone putting it down there. All it read was: “Alley – 8PM”. She frowned at it and looked around. She couldn’t find the librarian anywhere and shrugged.
“I’ll humor him.” She muttered to herself as she took the book and put it back on the shelf before turning and walking out. She went to the alley behind the library and waited there.
After waiting for a while she was starting to get tired to the point where she was literally dozing off while standing up. She shook her head and slapped her cheeks. Someone entered the alley from the other side and walked up to her. It was so dimly lit that she couldn’t make out who it was, though she had an inkling.
“Hey, Kuro, you got the drugs?” The voice was totally different and her heart dropped for a second as the man came closer.
“I-I’m sorry, I don’t..” The man instantly halted.
“S-Shit! You didn’t hear anything okay!” He drew a knife and ran up to her, holding it by her throat. “You hear me?!” She nodded calmly.
“I-I promise I didn’t hear anything. I swear.” From the corner of her eyes she saw another guy coming their way and she unconsciously held her breath. If this was the other guy, she was probably toast.
“Alice?” She recognized Mochizuki’s voice.
“What’s your problem man, get going! This is between me and this chick.” The guy held the knife towards Mochizuki. He seemed just as scared as she’d just been. She quickly thought of something, then nodded to herself. It was time for her to be the hero. She pushed the guy with all her might, grabbed Mochizuki, and started running for her life, dragging him after her.
After getting quite a distance away from the alley, she stopped and put her hands on her knees, panting loudly. Beside her, Mochizuki fell to his knees, nearly coughing up a lung by the sound of it.
“S-sorry, are you okay?” She asked as she crouched down beside him. He looked up at her and simply nodded. The way his hair was stuck to his face was kind of cute, and she looked away to hide the blush on her cheeks.
“Why were you in the alley?” He asked after he finally breathed normally again.
“I found a note that said to go there at 8PM. I thought you wrote it, so I didn’t think twice about it.”
“Y-yeah, you were trying to help every time, so I just thought this was another way of helping.”
“Did it help?” She couldn’t help but laugh at that.
“That was exciting for sure, but I don’t know if I want to have life-threatening excitement in my day-to-day life.”
“Granted, that might not be good for your health.” He agreed as he got up again. She stood as well. “Thank you for getting us out of there. I was unsure of what to do.” She shook her head.
“I should thank you for giving me that opportunity in the first place. So,” she stood on her toes and pecked him on the cheek, “thank you.” With that, she walked off, a smile fixed in place.
The next day was filled with classes from start to finish. She probably wouldn’t be able to make it in time for the library’s closing.
‘I can still try dammit.’ She thought as she ran out of the school building and managed to get on the bus just before it left. Her heart was beating faster the closer she got.
‘This is one way to live an exciting life.’ She smiled to herself.
She got off and ran towards the library, but found that the gates were already locked tight. With a sad sigh, she looked up at the building.
“Alice.” She turned and saw Mochizuki quickly coming her way. He grabbed her arms and pushed her against the gate.
“Exciting?” He asked with a sly smile.
“Very.” She answered as she leaned in and kissed him. He graciously returned the favor and set a leg between hers as he reciprocated the kiss. She moaned involuntarily and looked at him.
“I could not get you out of my head all day long. I have had plenty of time to think of how to make this more exciting.”
“How about you come along to my place and show me.” She said playfully as she escaped his grasp and smiled at him.
“Gladly.” He said as he followed after her.