Every Wednesday afternoon she came in to the library, the one with brown hair with blonde streaks and little golden earrings. Her name was Clare, according to her library card.
Max stood, fraught with anticipation, near the Returns section. Any moment now. She always arrived at a quarter past four.
She came through the door, and walked towards where he stood. Green dress today. She was carrying a large purple hardback book, with gold lettering on the front. Max felt butterflies dance inside.
“Hey Charlie, what’s up?” she said, tossing her book rather carelessly on top of Growing Bananas Without Going Bananas. Max winced.
“Um,” stammered Max. “Who’s Charlie?”
She stared at him for a long moment. “I thought you were Charlie.”
“No,” said Max, his cheeks now a bright crimson. “I’m Max.”
“Oh,” she said. “I’m sorry. I always thought you were Charlie.” She turned to walk away.
“Err… hey,” said Max.
She turned back, and smiled. Max’s stomach twisted itself around into a tight knot. He remembered flicking through The Big Book of Knots. This one was probably a clove hitch, he decided. Then he realised she was still looking at him.
“You hurt the books,” blurted out Max. “Don’t crack the spines. Don’t do it. You hurt them. Please stop. You understand?”
“Okay,” she said, taking a surprised step backwards. “Alright.”
She left the library and never came back.
Every Wednesday afternoon Max felt strangely empty and a little sad.
The books, however, were quite relieved.