August is the month we get to welcome new full-time voices to the post calvin! Please welcome Sadie Burgher, who is taking over Paula Manni’s spot. Sadie (‘17) graduated with degrees in environmental studies and writing and has spent the past year working in libraries. She loves essential oils, books, and the idea of getting fit. She is married to Luke, and they make their nest in Grand Rapids, MI.

*All patron names have been changed to protect their privacy.

I

“Uh, hey…”

“Hi, how can I help you?”

“Yeah…can you show me where to find a Satanic Bible?”

JESUS GOD NO NO PLEASE WHY BACK OFF DEMONS I REJECT YOU ALL!

I pay YouTube and Spotify a combined $22 per month to avoid advertisements because I once clawed both sides of my face while ripping out my earbuds when the trailer for IT played before a video of a Bon Iver NPR Music Front Row concert, which was intended as self care in the first place. Suffice it to say, I don’t fuck with paranormal, demonic, or occult anything, ANYTHING, forever and ever and ever, amen.

You can imagine my relief, then, after I croak, “Well, let’s see if we have one,” and search the catalog with shaking hands, when I discover that, of several copies owned by the library, every last one is marked “Lost.”

II

James drops his library card on the desk and growls for me to find his hold item. Recently, I’ve been feeling a bit guilty for disliking him so much—true, he has never spoken to me in a tone that wasn’t contemptuous, but perhaps he lost his family in a house fire, so I pretend to be thrilled to get his book, delighted to check it out to him. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally see what his face looks like in a smile. Imagine that. “Have a great day, James!” I chirp as I slide the heavy book across the desk.

I’m not allowed to comment on the items that patrons check out, so I try not to pay attention. In this case, I haven’t noticed much about James’ book while it was in my own hands, but as he wordlessly grabs the book and turns to go, I see the cover: a swastika and the ugly, bold words White Power by George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party.

James is nearly to the door, and I, a young Latina woman, am gripped by a ferocious desire to throw my stapler, my water bottle, my trash can at his back, to chase him out to the parking lot and scream “YOU FUCKING RACIST!” so the whole neighborhood will know, to snatch that horrible book from his hands and rip out every page.

But I do none of these.

I remain at my desk, curling my toes, clenching my teeth, smiling for the next patron.

III.

It is time to go home, but eight-year-old Will is on the floor, wailing, clinging to the library’s The Cat in the Hat doll. “We can’t take him with us, baby,” explains Joan, Will’s special ed tutor, as she pulls the Cat away and carries/drags a screaming Will out the door. A few moments pass, and a sweet, quiet voice asks, “Excuse me. Is that boy still here?”

Before me stands a tiny, dark-haired girl a bit younger than Will. “I brought him some books since he can’t keep the Cat” she says, reaching up to place three Dr. Seuss books on the desk—her very own copies. Will and Joan have gone but will be back next week, and he will love the books, I tell her, so the little girl asks for his name and leaves a note:

To: Will

From: Isabella Morin

A week later, Will and Joan return to the library, and to my selfish disappointment, he doesn’t really respond when I present him with Isabella’s books; he looks at them for only a moment before pushing them into Joan’s hands and running towards the children’s area to find the Cat.

When I arrive at work after two more days, my supervisor tells me that Will and Joan left something for me to give to Isabella. In my mailbox is a handmade card, a joyful, extravagant thing covered in glitter, stickers, stamps, and confetti, bearing multi-colored words in eight-year-old handwriting:  

Thank you Isabella

Love Will

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