Day Two of my daily challenge. Here’s my new story, thought of on the way home from my job as a school librarian… Erm, yeah.

*ahem* Characters or events depicted in the following story do NOT resemble persons living or otherwise. Any resemblance is purely coincidental. Thank you. That is all. [/enddisclaimer]

Why won’t these kids just follow the rules?

Not for the first time today did this thought flit through Marg’s mind. Though she loved working as a school librarian, sometimes the kids just wound her up. It was the pretending to chew something that drove her mad. They would be so obvious about it when she was fifty feet away at the other end of the room, but as soon as she approached… And they always seemed to think that she wanted to see the inside of their mouths as proof. I’m a Librarian, not a dentist, she would say.

It was the minor infractions: phones out, no matter how often she told them to put them away; talking too loud when they should be studying, treating this hallowed space of learning as an extended social area. Marg could overlook that – but only to a point. And that point ended with break and lunch. She could feel her hackles rise in keeping with the noise levels, but she would count down from ten before she said anything. Marg stayed at her desk and tried to ignore them.

go remind them of the rules

Marg stood up, her chair rolling back and hitting the wall behind it. The clatter drew the attention of every student in the room. Brassing out her nervousness, Marg approached the furthest table of older students who had been the loudest for the longest. She looked the worst offender of the group in the eye and said, ‘This is a quiet study area, not a social area. Please be quiet. Or leave. Your choice.’ She turned and walked the length of the library, back to her desk, and did not look back.

A scuffle of chairs, a book dropped on the floor. Marg bent towards her computer screen, intent on ignoring whatever they had chosen to do to express their displeasure. An almost shout, cut off before the first word was finished. Another cry, also interrupted. Two more voices started and stopped without a clear word uttered. And still, Marg focused on her computer, ignoring the students.

Sounds of books being hastily gathered up, a muffled sob, chairs knocking into the tables, and Marg finally looked up, to see a mass exodus of all the students. Three girls headed the line, and Marg watched as their pale faces, streaming with tears and mascara, lips clamped shut, marched past her desk. But it was the expression in their eyes that surprised her. She expected – from the exaggerated pursed lips – to see haughty disdain and mockery.

She saw fear.

When the door shut behind them, she realised that it was directed at her. She heard gasps of relief from the hallway, but the students did not return. Marg looked around the quiet library, and breathed deeply. My library.

From the base of her skull, she heard a voice rumble inside her mind:

my Librarian…