The local library was - as are most local libraries - pokey, underused, and inadequately heated in the wintertime. It was filled with yellowing books that had not been read for at least a decade and a small collection of for-rent DVDs that never managed to fit into a specific genre. The doors, or rather, door, opened at nine each morning, and were firmly locked at five-thirty in the afternoon. The only key was
kept in the librarian's ancient and battered brown purse, that either hung limply on her bony shoulders, or was unceremoniously dumped on the filing cabinet in the dingy office-cum-storage room that was bolted onto the back end of the library. There was a downstairs area for fiction, disks, and newspapers, while the upstairs was reserved for reference
materials and a microfiche reader that had last been used in the early seventies. But, not one of these reasons was why no one ever went to the library anymore. The library had not changed since its very first opening (the 12th of September, 1763), and while the books and librarian were exchanged for newer ones from time to time, the character of the place had
remained immutable and tolerated. To some extent, loved. The place would be wrong if it was anything else than what it had always been. Brown light filtered still through the three high windows like weak coffee, and the dry, racking cough of the librarian was the only sound to disturb the mice as they nibbled the glue from the spines of cheap paperback novels. No one had ever
bemoaned the way the carpet was dusty. In the summer time, children would bound in around lunch to escape the midday heat and controlling parents, ignoring the protestations of other, far older readers. It was just that one day the library ceased to exist. Not physically - it may have been just the ivy that was holding the building together, but it still
stood as solidly as before. It still cast a shadow, and when the heavens broke into rain, people still dashed for cover in the plastic porch, hoping for the clouds to pass over. But no one ventured any further. They knew the library was open, and they knew that it was free to use - wanted to be used. But every time the brass handle was turned, there seemed to be some invisible grease that made hands slip off. At some
times of the day, if anyone so much looked in the direction of the library, they were suddenly tugged by a mental leash that yanked them in the other direction. Even the postman, who was obliged to deliver news and letters each morning, would not pass under the lintel. Instead, he would drop the stack of papers by the wrought-iron gate and carry on his way, forgetting his duties.
Once the librarian had called the customer service to complain about the seemingly prejudiced deliveries, but when the polite young man on the other end of the line heard the library's address, he became distant and muffled. In the end, the librarian had hung up on him and resigned herself to carrying the mail in herself. On a positive note, the library was suddenly and mysteriously no longer plagued with complaints
from the local council, demanding to know why it cost so much to keep the place open. The library, it seemed, had become forgotten. And so it went on, the door swinging to only twice a day to let the librarian in and out. The books never needed repairing or replacing (except for some particularly badly eat ones, although new copies never quite managed to arrive) and
the dust settled thickly in the still environment. In the end, even the librarian left. She resigned from her post with a heavy heart, but there were better positions elsewhere. She was still fit enough to stack shelves at a supermarket, or perhaps work as a cleaner in a school. There was far less majesty in such work, but her pay checks would actually turn up. More than
that, there would be real people to talk to, not just the ghosts that flitted in the dark corners of Egyptology and True Crime. When they day came, she did as she always did, fetching her bag, turning off the lights, and closing the door. After hearing the lock click, she smiled and left the key under the mat. She straightened up, turned, and then shook her head, as if she
had just forgotten something special but not important. Absentmindedly, she patted her bag. Finding nothing there, the old librarian drew her coat about her and set off down the road. And at last, sinking into a truly interminable silence, the library slept.