The library was the one place she felt safe; the dim aisles with their thin, stained carpets, lined with thick volumes bound in leather and fat paperback novels with peeling covers made her feel more at home than the house she lived in ever had. She liked to wander through the silent avenues and run her fingers down the spines of as many forgotten and neglected books as possible, thinking of them as her melancholy brothers and sisters. Often she sat with her back pressed against the shelves and wished she could wedge herself between her favourite novels, or curl up among the encyclopedias and stay there, safe, warm and content, forever. She thought maybe if she stayed there long enough the rest of the world would simply forget about her and move on.
She imagined her mother clearing out her bedroom, maybe converting it into something useful like a room where she could paint in peace like she’d always wanted. The picture was clear in her mind; her mother standing in the doorway, surveying the room and sighing, somewhat irritated that her daughter had left behind so many things. And then, her mother would start clearing everything into boxes, not rushed, but indifferent to the nostalgia certain items found under the bed might trigger if she’d let them.
In the library this girl, too old now to be scared of not being looked after, imagined how different everything could have been had she been a character in one of her favourite books. Not even a main character, she thought, just some girl who lived in the same village as the main character, growing up in a fantasy land with her loving father. Or, perhaps, she could have had adventures of her own. She wasted days thinking up stories involving dragons and princesses and creatures built out of smoke and woodland fairies, imagining and daydreaming her life away. Better to dwell on fantasy, she thought, than face the pain and neglect of the real world. Better to peacefully fade away on dusty shelves than be battered to the ground.