The young adult's section of Albert Sidney Johnston Memorial Library was my personal retreat from the outside word. Here among the old paperback novels and cheap pup fiction from the late eighties to the early nineties I felt safe for a time. Also for practical reasons, the library offered a place to cool down and relax on those long, hot summer days that Mississippi is known for.
This was one such afternoon. The weather forecast for that day had been mid with a slight chance of cloudy overcast. Instead, the weather had been clear sky's with plenty of sunshine. That had resulted in most people retreating inside during the early afternoon hours when the sun was the strongest.
Anyway, I just returning from browsing the horror/supernatural section. And my arms were full of some prime choices, all vintage Fear Street and R.L Stine thrillers. I was a big fan of R.L Stine at the time and I had made it my mission to read every book written by him, even if some of the books had been written by a ghost writer.
But I ramble, I was returning from my browsing and making my way toward the front desk, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted something. A anime style poster had been tacked to the bulletin board. The board served kind of a hub for information and upcoming events. I had passed by the board a dozen or so times since coming here.
But this time my curiosity had been peeked by the anime style poster. So rolling the dice I stepped a little closer to take a closer look. The first thing I noticed was poster featured a short blue haired anime girl, she wore a pink and white one piece bathing suit. And oddly enough she was seated on the trigger seat of a dunking booth. A small tear shape, sweat drop appeared to her side as she smiled toward me.. Her bare feet barely touched the water.
Below picture a short message read as followed.
"Attention volunteers needed for the dunking booth attraction this coming Saturday at the 'Discover Benton Festival'. Volunteers must be between the ages of fourteen to eighteen. A parent consent form must be filled out by volunteers under the age of eighteen. All volunteers agree to work a three hour shift in the dunking booth. Please see the front desk for more information. - Chairwomen of the bored. Ginger Jennifer Evens."
I titled my head to the side and placed my books down upon the small end table. Blushed deeply I then reached up and gently removed the push pins that where holding the flyer up. I then took the flyer in my hand and my books in the other and moved toward the front desk.
A women with blonde hair and blue eyes sat behind the desk. She was dressed in a white button down blouse and a jet black pencil skirt and snow white stocking and low pump shoes. Pinned to the right breast pocket of her blouse was a silver plated name badge. "Lilly Potter" was the name sketched onto the hard plastic surface.
"Hey there sweetie." She said her voice thick with southern charm. "Ready to check out there? Just going to need you library card and." Her eyebrow became raised as she peered toward the flyer in my hand. "And by chance would you like to volunteer for the dunking booth too?"
"Yes ma'am." I whispered softy and looked down. "To both." I quickly added.
"Okay no problem there." She said as she reached down and took my books. "Just let me check these out for you first and then I can give you the papers. So do you have your library card? Yes or no?"
"Oh Sure!" I said snapping out of my daze. Quickly I reached down grabbed my purse and brought it around. I was still getting use to caring around a purse. But it was a basic skill my sister said I needed to master.
After digging around the confines of my purse for a few seconds I finished out my pocket book. Snapping it open I withdraw my library card and in a blink of a eye I handed it to her the card, she took it and entered some information, she then started to work on the stack of books I had chosen.
"Wow 'The Prom Queen' and 'The Sleepwalker' and finally 'Cheerleaders: The First Evil'. I take it you really dig the horror and supernatural stuff. Stuff always gave me the chills." She said as she entered and stamped each book.
"Yes ma'am.." I said blushing as I slipped by wallet back into my purse.
At this Lily stopped and turned around and gave me a look. Clearing her throat she straighten up and said.
"How old are you?" She inquired as she turned around to face me, her hands where folded neatly on her lap and a small smile formed on lips.
"Fourteen.. Ma'am.." I said, my blood started to go cold in my veins.
"Sugarcube, I'm seventeen. Three years between you and I. Now in school, that be a big old difference. But here no, now I know your momma raised you to a polite young lady. And she did a fine job, but really you gotta drop that 'Ma'am' business."
I blinked and blinked again and slowly closed my eyes and nodded my head. I had been dealing with the memories of losing my mother through most of the spring thaw. It had been a sharp turn on a hairpin curve last winter that had resulted in a horrible crash that left my mom dead and me.. A ward of the state. The only saving grace had been the fact that I had a older sister who live here in Benton, it seemed grandfather had owned a Christmas Tree farm and my sister having a B.A in Forestry from Mississippi State had taken over the management of the thing. You know to keep it in the family and such.
"Sure.." I said, I had no idea what else to say.
Lily smiled and reached over and handed me the books and a sheet of paper. "Here you go sweet, fill this out and return it by Friday. The dunking booth will be located right beside the middle school. Kind of the middle of everything. We need to there bright and early kay?" She said with a smile.
"Kay." I said slipping the books into my oversized purse along with the permission slip.
"One more thing sweetie." Lily said as she peered toward me.
"Yes ma'am?" I asked. Lily just rolled her eyes and sighed.
"I need your name.. can't go around calling you sweetie all the time. Not proper and such." She said as she leveled those eyes at me.
I blinked and blinked again and peered toward the women. My Legal name was still "Mark" though my sister and I where making some progress changing it to "Madeline" the name I had chosen after coming out, after being discovered. My sister was cool with it. Rolling the mental dice I decided to go with "Madeline" with my long sandy brown hair and deep blue eyes I looked the part. And heck I was even mistaken for a girl from the back and from the front. A girl who puberty might have not gotten around to yet, but a girl none the less.
"Madeline.. Madeline Brewer.." I said with a small smile.
"Okay Ms. Brewer, Hope to see you Saturday." And with that she returned to her work. I offered a little smile and collected my books and the papers to be sighed and made my way toward the door. I pushed the door open and was greeted with a blast of hot southern air.
I quickly closed the door behind me and started to make my way down flagstone paved walkway. Once I reached the bike rack, I could already feel small beads of sweat starting to form on my forehead and under my arms. Panting like a hound dog, I placed the books and the form in the wire basket of my bike, unchained it and mounted it.. There was still a good four or five hours of sunlight left in the sky. But.. Home was calling me. And there are tale ends for now.