Censorship

Percopotomus Prompt #2 — books under a coat

     “Lucy dear, it’s almost closing time,” Mrs. Hofstader called out from her perch at the circulation desk. The teenager was usually the last one to leave the library, and this evening was no exception. Lucy was seated in the reading room, a copy of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by her side. She was curled up in an oversized armchair, her nose stuck in a copy of The Davinci Code.

     “Lucy…”

     “I heard you, Mrs. Hofstader,” Lucy replied. “I just want to finish this chapter.” After a few minutes, Lucy carefully dog-eared the page where she had stopped and disappeared into the fiction shelves with both books. When she walked past the circulation desk, Mrs. Hofstader felt she had to say something, but what?

     “Lucy, I was wondering…”

     “Yes, Mrs. Hofstader?” Lucy politely responded when the librarian trailed off, trying to think of a tactful way to say what she was thinking.

     “Lucy,” she began again, “you’re one of the most voracious readers I know, and yet you always leave the books here. Why don’t you ever check anything out?”

      Embarassed, Lucy stared at the floor. Her face turned red, although Mrs. Hofstader could hardly imagine why. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

     “Because my parents would kill me if they knew what I was reading!” the young girl blurted out. “They’re really strict about what I read and I’m not allowed to bring home books that they don’t approve of.”

     Mrs. Hofstader was taken aback. She knew Lucy’s parents were very religious, but how could they deny their only child the right to expand her mind and life by partaking of the written word? “You can check one out. I promise I won’t tell your parents.”

     Lucy hesitated. ” I really shouldn’t….especially books that are blasphemous.”

    Mrs. Hofstader had no response; instead she walked to the fiction section and found The Davinci Code. The turned down page was testament to Lucy’s thirst for the knowledge and adventure that could be found between the covers of a book. She returned to the desk with it and typed Lucy’s information into the computer, even though the girl had never had a library card.  Stamping the due date on the card pocket, she passed it to Lucy.

     “I want you to take this book home and savor every single word. If your parents have a problem they can take it up with me. It’s due on the sixteenth but I can tell it won’t take you too long to finish it.”

     Lucy stared at the book, cradling it in her hands like it was the rarest of jewels. In reality, it had seen better days, having been checked out many times since it was donated to the library, but for Lucy, it was as special as if it were brand new. She thumbed through the pages and a slight smile crossed her face. “Thank you Mrs. Hofsteder.”

     “You’re welcome, Lucy,” the librarian replied, fighting back tears as she watched the teenager leave, her illicit treasure hidden carefully under the down of her zipped-up coat.

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