I tried not to miss the buzz of activity my clientele provided me, choosing to appreciate the serene calm that now surrounded me.
Breathing deep, I let the fragrant scent of lotuses imbue my senses as I sat back, the sturdy wood balancing me as I reached for my inner guide, letting my hands move of its own accord while my mind cleared itself of any distractions other than the question I sought answers to.
The gentle rocking motion went well with the sounds of shuffling deck, then my hand reached out for a card, my sight hazy yet my mind clear— it knew what I was trying to deny all this time...
Once the haze dissipated, I was once again left there to make sense of my readings. It just didn't add up though... I thought, once again sitting back as I let the rocking of my chair soothe the disarray denial left me with.
Death was never part of her path, not when we were friends...
“With Death, all things are reborn fresh, it's a transition to change. There's nothing to be worried about it, honestly.”
I went over Roe's words in my head as I went back to the Library after my lunch break, Why did it feel like she wasn't telling me the whole truth of the matter though...
I was just about to head back to my desk when I spied the painting I had wanted to get rid of still in its usual place. I wasn't superstitious in anyway, but maybe Roe and her “magic mojo” was starting to rub something off me.
“Excuse me, have you seen Noel?” I waved over one of the volunteers who sometimes helped around the library, feeling a twinge of guilt that I have yet to remember their names.
“Oh! Yes ma'am, he's actually...” I couldn't help but raise an eyebrow as she let out a giggle.
A brief excerpt from Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises:
In the morning I walked down the Boulevard to the rue Soufflot for coffee and brioche. It was a fine morning. The horse-chestnut trees in the Luxembourg gardens were in bloom. There was the pleasant early-morning feeling of a hot day. I read the papers with the coffee and then smoked a cigarette. The flower-women were coming up from the market and arranging their daily stock. Students went by going up to the law school, or down to the Sorbonne. The Boulevard was busy with trams and people going to work.
I quietly watched in interest from the doorway as I listened to Noel finish reading an excerpt from Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises, giving a quick glance over his three “students”.
“Now, I want you to explore the differences between the next excerpt I'm about to read. Try analyzing how each writer achieves their effect on their readers, alright?”
And one from Donna Tartt's novel The Goldfinch:
Chaotic room-service trays; too many cigarettes; lukewarm vodka from duty free. During those restless, shut-up days, I got to know every inch of the room as a prisoner comes to know his cell. It was my first time in Amsterdam; I'd seen almost nothing of the city and yet the room itself, in its bleak, drafty, sunscrubbed beauty, gave a keen sense of Northern Europe, a model of the Netherlands in miniature: whitewash and Protestant probity, co-mingled with deep-dyed luxury brought in merchant ships from the East. I spent an unreasonable amount of time scrutinizing a tiny pair of gilt-framed oils hanging over the bureau, one of peasants skating on an ice-pond by a church, the other a sailboat flouncing on a choppy winter sea: decorative copies, nothing special, though I studied them as if they held, encrypted, some key to the secret heart of the old Flemish masters. Outside, sleet tapped at the windowpanes and drizzled over the canal; and though the brocades were rich and the carpet was soft, still the winter light carried a chilly tone of 1943, privation and austerities, weak tea without sugar and hungry to bed.
Noting the brooding demeanor that came over Noel's usually carefree nature, I only then realized the effect he had on our female patrons—the afternoon sun streaming into the private study's windows giving his dark hair an almost enigmatic glow, as his jade-green eyes darkened into sultry emeralds—I would have swooned there and then had one from the little study group not raised his hand in answer,
“Sir, if I may, you perfectly captured Theo Decker quite well.” I heard the other two express their same sentiments and watched as Noel only gave out an amused chuckle as he smoothly circled back to their lecture,
“Alright Mikee, now that we've pinpointed how you feel about one of the excerpts, have you noticed how the sentences were constructed? Which one do you think comes as simple and straightforward or more complicated?”
“Oh, sir!” Noel nodded towards the other student who raised her hand, “I think even though Hemingway's wordings came off as the more straightforward of the two, the story as a whole could have a tendency to drag out by not being able to convey its feelings properly. Unlike how Tartt takes us to the heart of what the protagonist is feeling at the moment, whose main concern could be how you direct the overall story without alienating the characters' emotions.”
There was a moment of pause before I saw the beginnings of a grin form on Noel's face. I would have stayed there for a while longer myself, had my phone not started ringing. The unexpected noise made all four pairs of eyes focus on me before I could even step out of the room, effectively freezing me in place like a deer caught in headlights.
“So uhm...” I started awkwardly, finding myself at a lost for words, especially as Noel looked at me like he was trying not to break out laughing on the floor.
“Well that ends our impromptu lecture for the day, it's time for me to get back to work!” Noel instead, took pity on me and diverted the attention back on him, the chorused “Awwws” that followed were the last I heard as Noel and I headed out of the room.
“About that—“ We both started at the same time, but Noel cleared his throat and acquiesced for me to go first.
“So... about teaching those undergrads... That's really something, huh?” I finished lamely, sneaking a glance at Noel as we walked the quiet halls of the library together.
“Yeah.. You could say it's just a hobby of mine...” I watched as he rubbed a hand to his nape, looking unsure on whether he would offer more of an explanation. Well, if there's one thing I'm good at, it's changing the subject.
“So.. about that painting..?” I asked instead, seeing Noel visibly relax though he still had a troubled look on his face.
“About that.. Mr. Cross said he'd rather invite his mother-in-law over than take in that painting.”