Monday, January 05, 2009


This book I'm reading has me doing character studies. So I headed off for the library yesterday, to watch people and take notes.

I focused on one of the librarians. I liked the way her shoulders seemed to fold inward just a bit and her bangs dropped down over her face when she worked on the computer. Her skin was very white. I thought maybe she spends too much time reading to get any sun.

I already had a story in mind. I've been thinking of a man about 20 or 21 who meets a woman in a mid-sized Midwestern town and persuades her to take off for Oregon with him. It's 1970. If one of the patrons were to hit on this librarian, I imagined, she wouldn't believe it at first. Even as she packed her things to go she'd be trying to figure out what book the guy was trying to find. It would be such an adventure.

I listened carefully as she helped customers. Her voice was sharp, with a pinch of south in it, and it carried across the library. I squinted as I stared at her, trying to discern the angle of her nose. Yes, it pointed upward. She caught me looking. Twice, maybe three times during the hour I spent studying her. Definitely three, at least three.

When I went to the counter to check out some books, I stole another peek, glancing sideways. I hadn't been able to really see her eyelashes before. They seemed to make a difference somehow, I'm still not sure why. And she caught me again, and she didn't seem the least bit shy. Her brow bunched up as she locked in on my eyes, and she was not smiling. No, this character would definitely know if she were being hit on. I didn't dare look again.

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