THE FIRST ENCOUNTER
An empty window seat bound by books stares out into a sunless courtyard, but this afternoon, the sun shines bright. It's also November, which means that there's already something wrong with this day. November constitutes cloudy days with too much rain or sleet. Honestly, it works both ways.
Dust floats lazily through the shafts of light like some kind of fantasy sequence. I'm half expecting to overhear a love confession two aisles away. It's the perfect setup.
Meanwhile, I'm lost in this strange feeling, and I'm not sure what it is. Glaring at the mythology section of the school's library probably isn't helping, either, but I don't remember how I got here. It seems like the entire morning passed before I realized where I was.
"Do you need any help?"
I jump. Well, I more likely violently shudder. I've heard nothing up until this point, so when I hear someone say something, I naturally assume that I'm about to die because of how quiet it is. I groan and put my wrist against my forehead and turn to see who spoke.
This guy rounds a corner with a stack of five books under his arms. He glares at me for some reason, and his glasses are slipping down his nose. It makes me swallow like I'm about to be scolded. Yet somehow I manage to say, "What are you, a librarian?"
Of course, me being the stupid sack of shit I am, it's unprovoked and dumb.
He raises an eyebrow. "No, but I know if you're looking for something that isn't mythology, it won't be there."
I look at the line of books on the metal shelves and sigh. "Oh." For some reason, this is a revelation to me. I step back and stare at him. He's got these really grey eyes that look cold and unforgiving. I glare back. "Well, I've never been in this part of the library before. Sue me."
His watch intensifies. "Don't have to be a dick about it." He moves to the window seat and puts down the books. "What are you looking for?"
"I don't know." I don't like him staring at me. "What's down this way?"
He points down the aisle towards the computer lab. "Transportation stuff is over there. Uh…movies is the aisle after that, I think…?" I'm probably still glaring, and he takes notice. "What?"
"You sure you're not a librarian?"
He shakes his head and scoots the stack of books. "Nah. I've just been down this way way too many times before." He sits down on the books and sighs. "I like this library. I have lunch here sometimes."
It has the ambiance of a closed bookstore, and I get the appeal. "Good idea."
He smiles and looks around. His teeth are crooked, but it's a nice smile, a warm thing. "Well," he says, laughing, "besides the light."
I blink. "What?"
He points to the window. "The light."
I don't move. My eyes dart between him and the sun-soaked padding of the window seat. "…you know what you're talking about, right?"
The guy nods. "Yeah." He goes to pick up a book and read it. He squints and brings the book closer to his face. "You're not normally down here, are you?"
"No," he says sharply. Either this guy's a dog or I've struck a nerve or something "Again, I've never been on this end of the library before." His steps back against the bookshelf. "Who comes down this way, anyways?"
I smirk and step closer to him. Something just irks me about him. "Okay, the aisle your in for mythology. This aisle here – " I bang the sides of the shelves. " – is all architecture stuff. Garden stuff, too. I think there's some French aristocracy stuff there, too." I pause, and then wander down the aisle. "Huh. There's some math stuff here, too. Calculus…" I keep moving. "Oh my God, there's the 'For Dummies' books. I didn't know they were here."
"Wow, this was unhelpful," he whispers. "I'm just going to wander…this way."
I come back his way. "Wow. You're lost, and I'm trying to help you." I cross my arms. "Don't be an ass, man."
"I'm not being an ass," he says.
"I'm…" He sighs. "I'm not engaging with childish antics right now."
I slam open the book. "Fine. Go." I go on to read. I don't remember what I grabbed. It's something about architecture.
I mean, there's house pictures in it. But no words.
And I can't read it. It's so dark outside.
This fucker goes off wandering, but then gets lost and turns back. He taps his foot on the carpet and asks, "Where are the film books again?"
"Oh, now you're interested?"
"Shut up. Where are they?"
"Go find them yourself." I turn a page, and it's just swirls. 'What even is this book?'
He moves. He watches the aisles like they're about to fall on him, and looks back to me. It's this weird, unsure look that makes me want to punch him.
He comes back a minute later and sits down. "You're a bad librarian."
He sits down on the floor. "Still a bad librarian since you don't know where the film stuff is."
"I never said I was one."
"Still a bad one."
"Oh my God. Shut up." I'm not reading. This is a picture book. There's nothing in here.
We don't say anything for a little.
The wind shifts outside, and it rattles the windows. It'd make sense if we were on the fourth floor to hear that. But wind doesn't make a sound on the second floor in a courtyard.
"You hear that?" I ask.
"You didn't hear the wind?"
"No." He looks at me, and his brown eyes turn gold. "Was I supposed to?"
I shrug. "It was a fuckin' weird sound."
He looks away. "Cool."
I tap my fingers on the book's cover. 'Fuck it.' I ask, "What's your name?" He looks at me. Surprised. Like I just asked him what his favorite porn is. "What's your name?"
"I heard you the first t̼͔̝̕i̪̠̥̳m̝e͏̮͔̳."
I blink. "O…okay…?"
He leans forward, this angry look on his face. "Is that a question, or ḁ̫̺̯̱̽ͥ́ ̃̌ͣͩ͘sͪ҉̥̰t͚̪̿͞a͈̋t̶͉̫̼̰͈̉̿ͦ͊̒̓ě̙͍̪ͤ͌̉͐̅ ̺ͣͣͩ͗̏͌ͤe͎̟̪̪̞͓̯̔̚͞n͓̿̋t̡̜͈̠̜̂ͨ?͔̳̰͍ͨ̇ͫ̒͛"̦̹̦̿̊
The book slips off my lap and lands on the floor. "What?"
He scoffs and looks away. "̠̮̩͕̄̽ͧ̚W̴͇̳̟̓̆͒̋̓hͬ̍͐͑̋͗͏̳̤͔͍͎̩̥ ̖̘̹̒̀t͖̲̱͖ͧ̈́̋̑ͨ͢ ̵̱͂i̺̞̟̘͚̞̹̿͑ͬ̎̒͞s̶͚͕ͥ͑̍̀̄̿ͬ ̢̱̮̥̽w̫̤̪̔ͫ̀̂̉̎̇ ̎ͧ́ͥ͘ ̟̯̙͉̜́n̛̼̭̞̖̠ͨ̿͋ͯ͛ḡ̎̄̄ ͕͍͉̜̩͙̉͋ͫ͒͠w̫̩͖̦̮͖̅́i͋̿͞ ̘̬͖̞̰̜͑̅̆͠h̞̞͍͒͊ͧ̂ ̼̭͎̗ͨ̃ͮ̃̾y̦̳ͮ͌ͫ̾͡ ̢͇̮̙͗ͩͫ̌ͅư̰̗͓̺̍ͫ͐̋̄̽̚ͅ?͖͐ͦ̓ͯ"̊̅ͤ̽ͭ̔̆҉͖
I swallow. "I…I can't.. .͎͙̅̑̐͑"
This guy twists his wrist, and they make a cracking noise. Like when you crack your fingers. "W̫͕͙̰͚̬̍͆h̪͙̞̤ͣ͞ ̖ͨ͛͟ ̭̣̭̲̭̦͒̑̏̑ͯͪ̇,ͪ҉̱̠̻̫̬̞̮ ̜̼͒yͯͮ̿͆̾̐ͮ͏͈͈̯̘ ̟͕̈͌̅͛̈́ͩ̃́ ̶̱̣ͫ̆c̬̠̙̘̘̺̉ͬ͊͑̓ă͓̺̟̟̜̇n̺̖̭̜̯̔ͭ̈'̗͇̙̝ͭ̌̌̑ ̙̙̣̳̀̓͆͝ ̙͇͔̆͂̄̿͐̚hͣ͌̍ẽ̷̖̹̤̰̣ͫ͗̅̒̅a̻̲̝̮ͤ̒̓̇̄r͓̮̲͋ͬ͜ ̅̈́ͦ̏ͧm̰͖͇̝̤̝̓͂̏͂̒ͫe̩͍̰̻ ̓͑̌n͔̐̄̂̋̊ͬ̓͢ ̩͓̦̘ͥͭ̐̾w̶͍̦͛́ͣ̄̏?̴̬͍̖̪̮͈̰"
E̼̩͑̊ͪͣͫͪ͠x͕͛ͤ͐̍̍c̩̙͔̫ͅe̟̬̓̐p͓͚̰̤ͥ͒͗ͣ̅͂̚ͅṭ̡̳̍͛ ̘̰͇̳̱͉͞nͦ͗̍̄ͮ̅o̠̣̻͙̖̙̪̎̆̔̈͌́w̷̥͔ͨ̊ͨͪ ̟̣̭͈̥͔ͣͩ̌̿͟I̓ͩ͋͏͕̱͉'̔̌ͭ̊̏͆̐͏̝͎̙̳͍m̯̓́̽̆̚͝ ̍̿̉̏͌ͫ̚͝s̓p̳̲̦͇̠̗͊͐̒iͩ̏ͣ̚r̪̣͈̭̈̓̃å̡̹̟͚̲ͮ͑̓͆ͥ̊l͕̬͔̮̗ͩ̋ͅi̛̹̯͔͒n̩̙̤͇͎ͥ͐͟g̰̬̰̭̤̙̿̕ͅ ̨̲̞̯̜̟͋̇a̟̳͕̬̠ͣ̓͐͗ͅn͙͙̰̰̬̙ͭ̚̚͟d̺͓͓̮̟̓̐̉̾̕ͅ ̘̼̳̲͈͗ͨ̆̔Ĩ̳͖͙ͤͬ̌̅͆̈́́'̩̤̱̝̼̝ͯͫͪͬ̏́̀̚m̴ͧ ̓͏͙̥s͔̲̺͙̥͉ͦ́̋͊̈́͋ō̴̤̥͈̝͙̰̺͑ ͩͯͧ̓f̝̜̈́͝u̲̱̭̗͕̣͋ͩͧ̈́ͧ̈c͈̗͙̙̱̈́k̦̘̋̄͋̎̀̉̉́i͐͗n̞̜ͭ͂̏ͯͯg͒̓͝ ̪̭̫̖̃c̺̘͔ͧ̈ͬ̉̕o̵͆ͩ́ͦn͓͖̬̪̺ͥ͑̈́̉̒̂f̟̟̪̰̠̤ͦ̔ͫ́u͔̲̙̖̤ͤͬ̌ͣ͑ͭ̚s̻̼̲͉̖̜͑̐e̩͇̦͊̊̌d̫̲̜̊ͭ̿̈̇̂ͪ͢.͈̦͎͓̰̅̽ ̩̦ͪͤͣ́Ĥ̲̿͗͝i͈̙s͚̦̻̅͐́̚ ̖̍̅̅ͩ̑v̙̰͚̌ô͍̤̯͔͓̥̳̆̽̀i̜̠̹̔͞c̢̹͛͗͑̂é͍̬͉̜͙͈͔̉̓̍̀̇̽͡ ̫̤͉̭̙͓̀̌͑̿̋̄̃d̟̘͎͋ͨ̆ͤ̾̚ḯ̟̈ͭ͋̏ͭs̤̱̰̀͝ț͛̌̀̇ͫ̃̈́o̬͈̓͋̎rt̹̬̳͍̜ŝ̐҉͍ ̤̀͒͌ͦȧ̂̉͒͐̀͒͏̻̰͇͈̘̳̯ņ͎̪̼͔͂̚d̘ͥ̏ͤͩ̾ ́̇̏͏̳̣̝̹ị͓̐̎̆ͯ͝t͍̥͗͟ ̎͆
̪̫͕̠̦ͨ͋͗͑ ̗̱ͮ̍̚͠n͍̦ͬ̃̏̄̾̑ͥ͠ŏ̮̊̋̚ ̶̽̆͗ͭ
I'm sweating. ͇̤̬̤̓͌M͇̠̲̥̬͊͑̍̓̋̈y̯͕̦ͤ̊͂̀ ͕̖̟̖͇̣͠ḷ͔̣̜̱̺̙̉͌͘u̸̦͙̻ͫͭͬ̔n͓̠̝̂ͬ̿ḡ҉̼̗̩͖̬̰̫sͣ ̩̙̖ͭͬ͗̒̂̉a̱͙̲̞ͪ͆̐̔ͤͫ̓r̞͕͕̯̂̾͗̋̀ë͚̹̟͇̖́́̃ͩ͆̃̾͝n̯̳͈̮͛ͯͤ͛ͧ̍'̿̍̽̒ͯ̆̂҉̗̝t̜̩̦̯͆͋ͨ̀́ͅ ̮̦̠̩̘̗̏̽͒̈
̖̙̯̗̈́̉̒̌̚ I̪͐ ̎͌
̷̪͍͉ͧͣ̓ẘ̩̟̌ͥͮ̅ͬͥ ̒̃͊̽̀̑͂͞s̒̂ͧ̀n̯̦̺̣̮ͣ͊ͥ̿̚'̢̖̝͗́ͦ̇́̈t͔̤͍̹̳͎̥͑͛ͮ̋̒ ̬̯ͣ̔͂̇̈̚
r̼̬͔̟͈̥̈́̑ͭ́͆͊͡ͅe͌͋ͤ́̏͊̓a̷͈̝̥̒͗ͪͧ̏͊ͤ ̗̕y̮̲͙͖͘ ̼̊͐̄̓͞
Ḓ̺̭̻͇̲͂̇̿̃͐̕q̢̮̠̲̦̘̫̿́͑ͭ̓͋g͚̘͈̩̝͇̥ ̱͙̃̍̌͗ͪ͐̎͢w̦̝̮͇̹͈ͯ͗̑̆̚ķ̲͈̥h̛̟̺͍͎́̄ͫ̎q̝͇̲ͧ̀ ͖̺̰̭̄̊̍̌ͯ̅L͓̕ ̥̫̣̟ͨz̷̝̖͈̳̲̲̫ͨ̑̃̊r͎̼̺͍͎̜̼̒͑̿̍ͨ̐͊̕n̴͖ͯ̌̔́̚h̟̞̣͓̦̤͓̿͆̈ ̲̩̟̽͌́̾̒͒̚͠x̤̎̓̋͂ͧ́̒s͇̰.