Kate unlocked the door to the library basement, and the chill of stale air conditioning escaped into the hot summer sun. She climbed down the stairs one by one, passing librarians on their way out after the long work day.
Night shift, she sighed to herself.
Even Ms. Caparelli was leaving for the evening, her portly frame passing through the exit by the basement stairs. Ms. Caparelli had been working at the library longer than anyone else there, and Kate often mused about her. How many things had changed over her years in the building? And what on earth had driven her to stay so long? Kate liked to imagine what her personal life must be like, although she often found it difficult to muster a realistic image. The woman seemed such a staple of the library that she may very well have just ceased to exist when the building’s doors closed for the night.
Kate settled into her desk chair, the hurried sounds of last minute shuffled paper and shuffled feet turning to silence – silence and the tick, tick, tick of the clock on the wall. The second hand occasionally moved lazily, failing to make that satisfying tick during intervals of silence as it rounded out the minutes. Kate was attuned to these sorts of things.
She checked her e-mails and fidgeted in her chair. A co-worker had explained the night shift duties to her when she first began the post. You’re there in case anyone calls – in case anyone needs anything. But mostly you’re just a body at the desk.
The words echoed in her head. A body.