People didn’t often come this high up, so I knew that it would always be quiet.
The elevators were reserved for the disabled and the elderly and so everybody else who didn’t fall into those categories was challenged to take the stairs to reach whichever floor they needed to get to.
Everybody else didn’t have that kind of conviction, especially after a long day of sitting through tediously monotonous lectures. I had banked on this very fact when I had chosen this spot in the giant campus library and every time, it never failed.
The few people that were up here were confined to the far corners of the room where the computers were and even so, they engaged with their virtual worlds in near total silence.
This spot was perfect for me.
The ambient noise from the world beyond was muted simply by the thick wooden shelves that were packed with books on just about everything by almost everyone. The table I frequented was set between two long shelves that damn near touched the ceiling and it only had space for two chairs. There was no room to fit any more chairs on the sides because of the shelves and I was happy with this.
It invited no company.
I could think and study in peace, relieved of any calls to small talk and any distractions that would come by the simple presence of another human being.
That was, until I first saw her.
I could hear her approaching from somewhere else on the large floor, the sound of her jeans giving her away. She didn’t drag her feet, however, her footfalls giving off a quiet and almost deliberate thud as she strode in my general direction.
I didn’t know when I had even decided that this was a female that I was hearing.
My random choice was validated when the individual zipped across my sightline with the sounds of her existence, moving deeper into the maze of shelves. I was inclined to get up and follow her but sense told me how stupid that would be – what was the reason, really?
But even with this decision made, I found myself listening right up until I could hear nothing at all and I wondered if she had stopped to sit down somewhere.
I dropped my eyes back to the book in front of me and continued to read.
Barely had I done this, when I heard the sounds approaching again.
Just as I lifted my head, there she was, turning down the aisle where I was.
I couldn’t see her face for the dark curtain of braids that hung before her, her head tilted at an awkward angle as she perused the shelf before her, at the level of her chest.
She slowed her pace then and in that moment, I examined her.
My immediate thought was of dark chocolate, for that was the colour of her skin.
She wore a light grey shirt, the sleeves long and rolled up to her elbows, paired with fading blue jeans that appeared to be ripped on the side of the right pant leg. The seams were loosed at the bottom and the edges frayed and just about touching the floor where they fell over dirty black and white Converse. She wore a single string of black beads at her right wrist and clutched a piece of paper in her fist. She was full in figure, but it seemed more from genetic predisposition than any effort on her part.
And then my eyes drifted to other parts of her as anybody’s eyes often would.
The way that she stood when she stopped moving made me wonder if she was aware of what her stance did to her ass – she had a round and rather voluptuous ass and I found myself appreciating it.
All of me, was appreciating it and I shifted in my seat.
As if sensing this, she turned back the way that she had come and I couldn’t help but smile as I watched her walk away because she did indeed have a rather perfect ass.
And now, I could hear her moving on the other side of the shelf and I was tempted to offer my assistance to her.
I was pretty much holding my breath as I listened to her approach the same spot on the other side of the shelf.
And then several things happened at once.
Somebody was running – I could hear the cacophony of sounds.
There was a loud and jarring sound of some kind of collision.
The shelf rocked suddenly, making me jump to my feet, bracing for its impact should it fall altogether. Some of the books had even slid a few inches forward, while others dropped to the carpeted floor.
Somebody winced close by and this was followed almost immediately by the obvious sound of falling books.
Somebody ran past that little hiding place of mine but I never actually saw who it was because it seemed everybody else was coming out of their little bubbles to converge on the other side of the shelf before me.
When I was sure that the shelf was not going to fall on me, I made my way around it to see what had happened.
There were already three people there, crowding around a fourth person who was on the floor. Books were scattered everywhere and a quick glance showed me that one of the shelves had broken and released its contents.
“Are you okay? Ohmigod! There’s so much blood!”
This made me approach faster, trying to get a better look at who had fallen.
And there she was, slowly sitting up, clutching her arm to her chest.
I stood frozen for a hot second, seeing the bloodied bookend and the growing red stain on her shirt. Her face was obscured completely, her hair falling all over it.
One of the students there was asking if she could stand, to which she must have replied the affirmative because he tucked his arm under her armpit and began to raise her slowly until she was on her feet.
“Can you walk?” the other one asked.
At this point, the speaker raked her fingers through the girl’s hair, removing the braids from her face. The pain she was in was obvious, but even more so, was the anger.
And then she looked up at me with her brown, brown eyes and I knew that I was fucked.