Perhaps it was in the first grade that I was taught how precious time was. Mrs. Bergstrom stood from her desk and smoothed the lines in her pencil skirt. We wriggled in our seats. It was Wednesday afternoon, and we knew what was coming. She lined us up by the door. She waited for us to get rid of our squirms, opened the port to our freedom, and told us to go to our respective lavatories. Oh, the bathroom. Our shoulders sank. We always forgot about the bathroom. We elbowed each other under the flowing sinks. Hurry. Hurry. Then back in line. We walked on tip toes of excitement. Up the stairs. She turned to us with one last warning. She cocked her head and looked down with raised eyebrows that meant, “Respect this place.” And for the most part, we did. Maybe not to the extent that I revered it, with all my heart and soul and wiggling fingers that tried so hard to choose the right book, but it was the library after all.
Every Tuesday night. Snuggled with worry and anticipation, my mother and I read, and reread that week’s choice. I pulled on each letter. Each word. Each sentence. Gathered them in. Promising to never let go. And I didn’t. Even when I returned it the next day, I knew it would always be with me.
They tried to prepare us, I suppose. But I’m not sure it’s possible.
I slowed down my reading last night. Nearing the end of this book. Not quite ready to give in to the “Wednesday” that was approaching. I snuggled into the prayers said under my grandmother’s quilt, the sound of my mother reading, and I promised the words — promised us all — this was our story, and I would never let it go.