Borrowing

“I feel like all I ever do is shed.” She dropped another ball of hair onto the ground.

Her friend picked a few strands of hair off of her sweater. “Like a cat?”

“Except more gross.” She muttered noticing all the hair on the seat she was sitting on. “It does wonders for our vacuum.”

“I’m sure it does.” Her friend picked up a book. “Mind if I borrow this for a few months?”

“It shouldn’t take you that long.” She said looking at the cover. She remembered it fondly, having read it several years ago. She couldn’t recall all the details, the overarching story was of a sister trying to find a cure for the other.

“It doesn’t even look like you read it.” Her friend opened the book and flipped through a few pages after browsing the back cover.

“I think it took like two days?” She pulled out more hair.

“Hum.” Her friend pulled a long black hair out of the pages of the book, “I guess you did read it.”

She blew extra air out of her nose, a half laugh. “This one shouldn’t have any boogers in it.”

Her friend just arched an eyebrow at her. “That’s gross.”

“It was a joke. Lighten up a little.” She pulled out her phone, “Let me take a picture of you with it so I know who has my book.”

Her friend bit the corner of the book while she snapped the picture.

“Did you  want to go out for a cup of coffee later?” She tucked her phone back in her pocket and looked over her stacks of books.

“Sure,” Her friend stuck the book in her bag. “Can I take a second book?”

“One at a time. I had to replace a bunch already.”

“Who took them?”

“I’m not sure actually, hence the photo.”

“What did they keep?”

“A couple of hardbacks.”

“Ouch.”

“Yeah.”

“Well, lets get that coffee.”

Together they left the house both with books ready to be read.

 

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book bombing

(There is an artistic movement called book bombing were you leave slips of paper inside books at a library or bookstore with artwork or advice)

She browsed the bookstore looking for that one book, the one that she would read for the next three to fourteen days. She had just finished a particularly large volume about a dystopian society where children were forced to fight to gain food for their friends and family.

She was thinking she wanted something happier, something lighter. She browsed the romance section and nothing caught her eye, strolled through historical fiction, pausing momentarily to read the blurb on the back of one book. She continued though fantasy and science fiction, through children’s books and all of the non fiction section. With a sigh she sat in one of the over stuffed chairs. She looked at the cover and opened the historical fiction book to a random page seeing if she liked the writers style.

A tiny piece of paper slid out as she flipped the pages.

She picked it up out of her lap and looked at the picture on it, a black and white fish with lots of detail. It looked like it would be a perfect bookmark. It was signed by whoever made the fish with their email address on the back.

She thought it might be a sign to read this particular book. A little more page flipping and a crisp five dollar bill slid out. She looked at it with surprise. It was almost enough to pay for the book.

“Huh…” She stood up with the five dollars, and the fish drawing, and the book.  “I guess I’ll get it.”

She headed to the front desk and plopped the book down on the counter. Paid for it and headed home to send the artist a quick email.

“Hello,

I wanted to thank you for the book you bought me today. And the fish it is really cute.”

She signed it and sent it off. Sighing she read the book that had come recommended by this total stranger.

Choice of Leaving

She fiddled with the tiny piece of broken silver. Her overpriced cup of coffee growing cold beside her. She watched how the light danced off the facets and cracks. She kept her nose down not wanting to talk to anyone else.

‘Its the last thing I have…’ She thought making the dim coffee house lights play off the surface. ‘The last thing from her.’

She pulled her worn backpack onto her shoulders and walked out the door. Every time she went somewhere it was both the first and last time she entered the building. She made every choice intentionally, she would not be helpless in her own life any more.

Character: Lim

Lim was born low in elven society, to a castle cook and a Fletcher. He was small for his race, when he was fully grown he was just over five feet tall. Always being the smallest had its disadvantages, bullies being the worst of them. He often found himself spending more time with the woodland creatures.

He rescued many a critter from snares set by human hunters in their sacred woods. He knew his destiny would be to be a Fletcher like his father. He spent most of his childhood in the woods. Childhood was important to the elves, they felt the short time they were allowed to be children was a time that could not get back.

He started to learn his craft in adolescence from his father. He spent time in the kitchens with his mother, gathering knowledge from her as well. The castle was an interesting place to be, full of hustle and bustle. On several occasions he caught glimpses of the royal family. They were the most beautiful elves in the whole kingdom. They never stopped to look at the kitchen staff when they brought food out, so Lim went wholly unnoticed.

As he grew older he felt he could accomplish more than his birth rank would allow. He started to talk to other elves who lived around him, trying to learn more skills. He soon mastered metal working, and paper making. He learned them quickly, and took up more, script, potion making, healing, spell casting.

Word of his accomplishments traveled to the royal family. He received a letter with the royal seal on it. He could either stop what he was doing, or be killed. He didn’t see anything wrong with what he was trying to do. He left the city taking his skills with him. He went into the forest to learn without the threat from the crown looming over his head.

His friends in the kingdom would bring him books so he could continue to expand his knowledge. After many years of exile he started to get visitors he wasn’t expecting. Young children were turning up in his yard. He didn’t chase them off, allowing them to play their games in his wildflower beds.

He watched them grow in his yard, knowing this freedom would be a very small part of their lives. He got a knock on the door. On his doorstep was a boy, old enough to start learning his trade. The boy wanted help mastering a particularly difficult technique of stripping feathers for arrows. Lim obliged, having many techniques to teach the boy.

The boy came by often asking questions about everything imaginable. Lim shared his knowledge willingly. Teaching the boy everything he wanted to know. He did not know the boy visiting him was the prince until a royal battalion showed up at his doorstep demanding his appearance at the castle. He complied because he had no choice.

The hearing was quick. The princess sat on the throne with her parents and her husband beside her. The boy stood at his mothers side, pleading loudly for Lim’s life. They spared his life, and allowed him to be part of the community, seeing how much better her son’s life was with his satisfied curiosity. He would be part of the court if he wished, as a honored scholar. Lim chose to stay in his cottage in the wood, but he would take on any students that wished to know more. The prince was the most excited about the decision and hugged Lim, much to everyone’s surprise.

He spent the rest of his days teaching anyone who chose to visit him about a variety of topics, and learning more all the time. He often traded knowledge, skills that he had for skills that he lacked. He understood he was not a master of all things even with his extensive knowledge.

Character: Edmund

Named by his well read parents for the character in the Chronicles of Narnia  by C. S. Lewis. He had a fairly normal childhood, friends, rebelling against his parents, school work. No extraordinary events for this brown hair little boy. His studious nature was encouraged by his parents, his mother, Assistant Processor in Anthropology and his father, Director of Excellence for a large corporation. He played baseball through high school. He grew to be tall and lanky. College was a breeze for him, he graduated with honors.

He had trouble finding a job in his field of Mathematics that suited his schedule, and remained unemployed for a year after graduation, moving back in with his parents. His home town seemed too small for him now that he was grown. He dated a variety of women but none suited his taste. He returned to his university to get a masters degree, which would allow him to pursue the career he dreamed of.

A part time job in IT and graduate student teaching saw him through to finishing his degree. His parents were both so proud of him. A car accident threatened to take all his hard work away, three weeks in a medically induced coma and two lost limbs showed him his true love, his physical therapist.

Unrequited love  broke his heart. He couldn’t find the passion in anything anymore. Solving math equations did not hold the spark it use to. Trying to derive theories  and prove that the advanced equations held true under strenuous conditions even trying to find more digits of pi was unfulfilling.  His family was concerned about him.

Many years later, as an older gentleman, he realized his of math again. He opened a tutoring facility for the inner city children who lived only a few miles from his parents home, where he currently resided.

Agent 2257

“You’re going undercover as me.” Agent 5474 said handing her a folder about two inches thick.

“I’m going undercover as Silent Death!” She squealed, excitement oozing out of every pore.

“Its just around the office for a few weeks.” She patted the girls head. “Keep it together agent.”

She nodded clutching the documents to her chest. She hurried away to her room to start her research. She would start her impersonation in the next couple days, only the director and Agent 5474 knew about the mission, and they wanted to keep it that way. There would be a final walk through before Agent 5474 left.

Agent 2257 flicked on her light and sat at her regulation desk placing the thick folder down carefully. She flipped open the packet. The first and only line on the page was in bold text.

Avoid agent 3642, Aka Darkness Bane! 

Agent 3642 was rumored to be Silent Death’s significant other. Agent 2257 had to admit he was attractive, every girl recruit in her class had a crush on him while he trained them in  enemy critical points.

The next page was marked confidential. A hand written note in pen said “I will kill you if you reveal any of this.-Agent 5474” With a heart with an x through it below it. It was an ominous warning.

“Agent 5474, Silent Death, open field agent. Specialty  coven destruction and specialized combat. Moderate power level of increased speed and strength. No reported relationships on base. Close personal ties with several other OFA’s requested avoidance by double. Physical appearance is slender and short, quoted as saying pixie like in self descriptions. Pixie cut hair style, natural color is black, current color is also black. Eyes green. High cheekbones and an angular face. Noted, saying boyish is not appreciated by Agent 5474. Finger nails are cut short and unpolished, always. Preferred color pallet is black. Quirks wears red sweater after elimination missions. Gate is light and soft, footsteps are never heard even in the heaviest boots, but has military quality, double should avoid wearing heavy boots or shoes to mimic her silence. Standard two octave vocal range, low to mid female vocal range. Samples provided with common sayings. Frequently keeps conversations short with other agents, has mastered her accent to mild while around compound, and is nonexistent in the field. Agent often crosses her arms, and slouches when she thinks no one is looking. Always makes eye contact while speaking, often challenging in nature.”

Agent 2257 hoped they wouldn’t make her cut and color her platinum blonde hair and she would need contacts if she was going to make challenging eye contact with anyone. She sighed and thumbed to the next page which went into great detail about how her room was kept and the wing of the building it was in. She would have access to it once the imitation began and would be staying in it until it ended. There was another entire three page devoted to food preferences and choices. She clicked on the desk light to read what she was going to have to eat. There was a list of accomplishments and completed missions that went on forever.

She woke up with a knock on her door, a large drool spot on the page she had fallen asleep on. Agent 5747 walked in without waiting for an invitation.

“How is the research going?” She asked, eyeing the drool spot suspiciously

. “Good, good.”

“Say it like me.”

“I haven’t gotten to the samples yet…”

“Say it like me.”

“Good.” She did her best imitation.

“Work on it.” Agent 5747 walked out the door.

She thumped her head on the desk. Failure clawed at her insides. She couldn’t fail this mission, it was her first one. This should be an easy mission to do. She got back to work on the huge pile she needed to read. She fell asleep again listening to the audio clips. She tried to think like Agent 5747 , she picked foods that she would like to eat, walked like she would walk. Her vocal imitation was almost perfect now. She found a package on her bed that had a black wig with Agent 5747’s haircut and contacts with her exact eye color. She practiced doing her makeup so her face would look sharp and angular, instead of its regular rounded shape.

Agent 5747 visited her in her room after a week of trying to become her. “You look ready.”

Agent 2257 shifted nervously from foot to foot, which was reprimanded with a swat on the hip.

“Remember avoid Darkness Bane at all costs.”

“Why?” A perfect imitation made agent 5747 do a double take.

“He would blow your cover. Any OFA would.”

Agent 2257 let it go. She had read enough to know when her superior officer was lying, she could even mimic the behaviors now.

“Don’t mess up.” She said pulling a bag on her shoulder and walking out of the room.

Agent 2257 waited a while before donning the outfit and leaving her room to head to her new quarters. Her palms were sweating while she walked down the hallways, it was different now. Her backup was gone, for the past week she could count on someone seeing the real thing somewhere and knowing she was still in compound. She was worried she would not be convincing. Panic rose up when she saw Agent 3642 standing outside of the door she needed to go through, she doubled back, struggling to keep her composure. She took the alternate route and managed to avoid disaster. She was instructed to keep to the room most of the time, report to the command wing on occasion, and report for all meals.

She closed the door behind her to the now familiar room. She locked it. She opened the closet of entirely black clothes. They should all fit her even if she was a little more full than the other agent. The red sweater was missing. There was a note on the desk, “Don’t snoop.” Signed with a heart with an X through it. She left the drawers of the desk alone. It was set up almost exactly like her own which made the transition a little easier. There were more things on the desk and it was a little darker. Almost everything was untouched regulation issued, no personality. In her own room she had switched out the fitted sheet for a light one instead of the issued white one.

The first week was a lot of ducking and hiding from OFA’s the second week went better. She managed to hold a couple conversations with tech research agents, and people who had met Silent Death in passing.

Week four she had it mastered, then trouble when she had a run in with Darkness Bane.

“Hey!” He called from the end of the hallway. Agent 2257 did a half wave and quickly ducked into the nearest hallway to avoid him. He was faster than she expected, OFA’s often had special talents or powers that the general agents didn’t have. She had managed to run around two corners before he grabbed her up.

“Babe, you’ve been avoiding me all month what’s wrong?” He asked trapping her against the wall. She struggled to keep her persona up, meeting his eyes with confidence that only the Silent Death would have dared. He was gorgeous. Her heart was pounding so fast she was sure he could feel it in his arms.

“Put me down.” She insisted.

“I mean did I mess up our date?”

She couldn’t help but look surprised. Silent Death and Darkness Bane were an item, no wonder she had been so adamant about avoiding him. He dropped her.

“Did you forget about it?” He asked sounding hurt. She didn’t respond, her training hadn’t covered anything like this. He had turned away and was looking at the wall. She slipped away silently while he looked at the wall. She needed to get back to her room.

She slipped through the door panting from running for so long. She took off the light shoes that helped silence her footsteps and flopped onto the bed. She took the wig off and the contacts out. She tried to find herself again, she felt like she was getting too lost in  being someone else.

The door slammed open. The pixie like Agent 5747 stood in the doorway fuming. “I told you to stay away from him.”

“I did, for four weeks, I tried to get away and he caught me.”

She crossed her arms, it looked like there was something else she wanted to say, instead she sighed, “I guess its good you didn’t hang around. He didn’t realize you were a double. You are relieved of being my double, for now.”