"But momma, it's cold over there," the girl said. She pointed to where I stood in the stacks. I glanced around trying to will myself to be warmer. To be more than the invisible figure I was. To be alive.
"Baby, it's just a draft," her mom said. She pushed back a limp lock of hair that fell in front of eyes ringed with dark circles. Her head hung as she went through the legal books.
"What's a draf?" The child said it so it rhymed with laugh or giraffe.
"Just some cold air in old buildings."
"I want dinosaur books."
"So get them." Her finger landed on a white book with orange and green stripes. I knew what that book meant for families. She pulled it from the shelf.
"I'll move," I said. To my ears my words fell hollow. A distant echo, a quiet empty sound.
I did move. I floated, my invisible feet stepping back further and further. The girl came closer to where I had been, her little feet forming small steps. Testing the waters. Finding them fine, she dove forward to the oversized books on the bottom shelf and pulled them out. She talked. Triceratops. Stegosaurus. Allosaurus. All the usual suspects and further, scientific words as long as she was tall. Her mother gave her a heartbreaking smile and pulled another legal book from the shelf.
I watched them. I wanted to ask if I could help. How could I help them when I could not help myself? Was I dead? Was I more than that? I felt no fear, no worry, just a void where I had been and where I was. I could feel the library around me. All the books and shelves, the wood and metal of the old building. I felt the front door creak open downstairs like a pulled shoulder muscle. Something else came in the library, and I felt pulled toward it.
To be continued...