The keys on the keyboard stuck, mostly the "e" and "g" keys as well as the spacebar. I hit the back of the keyboard and heard the rattling of foreign objects and the keys themselves. Dust and dirt fell from between the keys and onto the reference desk, dirty snow on my grey and green landscape.
"I don't care, its not for you," I heard a voice say to my left. The stacks had been quiet all morning, empty and quiet and peaceful. The anger from the voice spoiled my solitude.
I stood and walked to the shelf to be helpful.
In the row marked "600-636" with a little arrow stood a small lady wearing too many coats. I suppose there are no such thing as too many as people can do their own thing, but the sweat that poured from her in the warm building sent danger signals to my brain.
"Not for you, for me," she said, her head jerking left and right, red gray hair tearing itself from the small skull cap she wore.
"Can I help you with anything today, ma'am?" I asked, staying ten floor squares away from her.
She did not seem to notice, her hand snaking out of the green folds of her coats to snatch a medical text on autism.
"Too many choices," she said, "but I'll find what I need."
The collars of the coats bunched around her neck, her sweaty head the inner bit of a grotesque cotton flower. I did not want to, but I walked closer.
"Are you looking for anything today, ma'am?" I said.
She stopped, full stop quiet cold. A shiver ran through her as if a cold wind brushed down her spine. Her body turned and I saw the coats open as she raised the book toward me.
"How much," she said. The comment, however intended, was not a question. The words were said but not meant, a reaction.
"This is the library," I said, "Are you okay? Can I get you some water?"
Her laugh rumbled from within, a tiny force of barks and squeaks abandoned as soon as it started. She dropped the autism book, allowed it to fall from her fingers and began walking toward me.
I stepped back as she came forward, her hands out and grasping. Her fingers were stained black on yellow, the skin spotted and old. The stain seemed like ink, but I did not wait to find out. She smiled as she approached and I backed out of the aisle.
As I turned aside she continued past me, walking faster and faster until she hit a run. I watched her go, followed her as far as the stairs and then went to the window to watch her sprint across the parking lot. She never slowed.