by Myfanwy Collins

My toothbrush smelled like sweat or a stain (the scent lingered on my upper lip like a scratch ‘n sniff). Then the sun was so bright, the light clutching at the hair on my arms and tugging it, that it made me think death might be near.

In the library my stomach churned in that way that made me think I might shit myself. Must find a toilet. Must find a book. Must find a toilet and a book or a book and a toilet. It’s that clenching gut “grab hold of your bowels boys!” feeling.

At the core of the problem, at its very center, I think, are the books; in that there are so many of them, the books are making me sick.

The librarians have very carefully placed certain ones on display at the end of each aisle–-three per each on bite-sized shelves. “These are the ones,” they say (the ones that you should read) desperately.

But I must start in Aa. And now I fear that I may never even make it to Da because whenever I get into Ba and sometimes Ca I start to feel the ring-ting-tingling, stomach-juicy-juicing down into your deep heart feeling.

By the time I make it down the stairs to the desk, the feeling is nearly gone and one of the library ladies is laughing and shooing the idiot through the door who just set off the alarm. She looks at me, shakes her head, rolls her eyes. We’re sharing our annoyance at the dumb ass who did/didn’t set off the alarm. “Just go,” her headshake says. “Dumb ass,” her eye roll.

By the time I’m at my car again, it’s the sun lighting up the street like a cat on fire, a funeral pyre, a rolling tire or whatever, then. It’s the sun pinching my nose and dragging me along to the final time when the grass is in shadows. And it is the sun alone bringing me back to the books every time.

Start at Aa. I dare you.

read this piece in its entirety at FRiGG

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