May 30, 2018
The library was the prime of Ronnie Storkhill's research but the downfall in meeting Shane Napoleon.
It was a warm Wednesday afternoon when the encounter happened and it was over Ronnie's failed attempt in reaching a file folder on the top shelf. She was going to the library to research more about the Benjamin Marcos case and wanted to focus her entire day as this one of the only days she could come in. Jayson wasn't here as he was with their grandma, Patsy, shopping in town.
The library was quaint with bookcases lining the walls, several chairs and desks in the open, and skylights on the ceiling. Ronnie didn't mind the library and had been here a few times in the past with her grandma, but there was always some sort of disappointment that washed over her whenever she walked down the aisles of long bookcases. She continued to dread this disappointment until she had to leave, holding nothing in her hands. This time around Ronnie hoped to gather not just books, but a better understanding of what had happened that night Benjamin was murdered.
She walked into the library that afternoon and went to the counter, where a librarian was causally typing away at her computer.
"Excuse me?" Ronnie asked, resting her elbows on the counter in front of her.
The librarian looked up from her typing and smiled softly. "Hello, what can I help you with?"
"May I have access to the archives?" In the back of Ronnie's mind, regret started to form like thunderclouds. She fiddled with her fingers as the librarian stood from the desk. She disappeared into a room that had squat bookcases and miscellaneous items on the corners. The entire room curved down from under Ronnie as she watched the slow movements of the librarian. Ronnie tried to not overthink what could happen but it seemed hard with worrying about what the librarian would bring back. She bit her cheek, thinking of the different possibilities.
The librarian then returned back to the desk, carrying a leather-bound book in her hand. It was tearing at the binding and pieces of triangle pages were sticking out. She set it on the counter and grabbed a pen from a nearby mug.
"Write your name in the next blank spot provided," the librarian explained slowly. She opened the book and a wave of nostalgic bitter dust hit Ronnie in the face. She choked for a moment before regaining her breath. The thickly bounded pages were coffee stained brown and black scribbles were all over the place on the faint pencil markings. The librarian flipped to the back of the book to a page that was stark white. A few signatures were here and there, but not a lot were neatly written.
Ronnie grabbed a pen and pressed the tip against the page. There was a humorous effect to how she felt when writing out her signature because Ronnie felt like she was selling her soul. Once she was done, Ronnie laid the pen next to the book and the librarian grabbed the book. She then went back into the room and a wave of relief washed over the teenager -- it was partly because she was fearing that something bad would come from signing the book.
The librarian returned with a key that had a white tag hanging off. She smiled and said, "Follow me. I'll show you the way to the archives." Ronnie nodded and followed after the lady. They walked down the side of one of the library walls to a locked door. The librarian pressed the key into the knob and twisted it, which resulted in the door opening up with a click. She then pushed it open slowly and a dark room awaited the two.
The librarian rubbed a hand against the wall and flicked the light switch on. Rows upon rows of bookcases greeted Ronnie and her heart thumped loudly in her chest. Her breath was stuck in her throat like a rock climber as her eyes scanned the scene.
The librarian walked into the room and stood by the far wall, resting her hands on her hips. "Most of the stuff dates back to when Shanesburg was founded. There's a computer on the other side of the room. If you have any questions, well, I'll go get someone, could you hold on for a moment?" She then disappeared out of the room. Ronnie stepped into the room now and looked about the shelves. There were bins and file folders and random objects stacked against each other.
Ronnie attempted to grab a file folder from the top of the shelf but due to her short stature, it was harder. She stood on her tip toes, which unlimately almost caused the shelf to fall over.
"Whoa, whoa, do you need help?" a hearty voice asked. Ronnie fell back onto her heels, immediately recognizing the voice. Turning around slowly, she was faced with tall figure with messy brown locks and gentle hazel eyes. The figure recognized Ronnie and smiled brighter.
"Ronnie Storkhill, what a pleasant surprise."
"Hello, Shane," Ronnie said thickly.
Shane scurried up his eyesbrows. "Why the tone? I thought you'd be happy to see me."
"Since it's summer, I'm not really thrilled to see anyone from our school."
Shane shrugged, crossing his arms. "Fair point. What're you doing here anyway?"
Ronnie hesitated and responsed, "I'm solving a murder mystery."
"Murder mystery? I didn't know you were into that stuff." There was the undertone of "girls can't like that stuff" that hung in the air but Ronnie didn't think much about it. There was an awkward silence between the two before Shane cut it by saying, "Do you still need help with grabbing that file folder?"
Ronnie snapped her view to the folder and then turned to smile awkwardly. "Uh, if you wouldn't mind?"
Shane nodded and moved next to Ronnie. His body was an inch away from Ronnie's as he reached up to the shelf. He then gave it to her and smiled. "You're welcome."
Ronnie frowned and looked down at the file folder. "This isn't what I thought it was."
Shane was taken back as if Ronnie had just stepped on his foot. "Oh, I'm sorry. Let me put it back up for you." He then grabbed the file from her hand and stuffed if back on shelf. Ronne stepped back this time, not wanting to cause trouble to Shane. She wandered away from him to another part of the archives, hoping that this alone would create some distance between the two.
Of course, Shane didn't leave Ronnie alone and followed her to the next aisle.
"So, are you doing anything after this?" he asked causally, leaning against the wall.
"Not-," Ronnie cut off as she dug into her back jean pocket. She then turned on her phone and gasped loudly. "My cat is giving birth to kittens! I have to go!" Ronnie ran out of archives, leaving Shane by himself. Though, this part of the plan was a lie as Ronnie skidded into the library and texted her grandma that she was done at the library.
Ronnie began to wonder if Shane was the person the librarian was talking about. If that was the case, she thought of the possiblities of going to a different library.