Interlude: Summer Reading

This is true love – you think this happens every day?”

It was a strange question for Gage Briody to hear on a midsummer afternoon in the public library. He had come in search of fresh literature, something to get his mind off his recent dalliance with the paparazzo girl. Perhaps a good biography or a spill-chilling horror story. Anything but romance… his heart had taken enough beatings. Yet on Monday morning at exactly half-past-eleven, he found himself reconsidering his views on love.

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He propped against the doorway, listening to the librarian read. He had never seen anyone command a room’s attention like her, even if the room’s occupants were under the age of ten.

There was nothing remarkable in her appearance, brown hair, red-rimmed glasses, petite frame, dressed in pale pink. Yet she spoke as if every word was alive. She was enchanting.

When the reading was done, one little girl waved her arm around urgently.

“Miss Shelley?”

“Yes Susie?”

“Why is it that the boy always rescues the girl? Why can’t the princess rescue the prince?”

“An excellent question, Susie,” she began slowly. “…and you know what, she can. She can fight those very same dragons and rescue the prince. All she has to do…” she paused, looking at Gage before continuing. “...is believe in her heart that she is very brave.”

Something about the way she said ‘heart‘ made his own skip a beat.

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“Can I help you?”

His heart thudded. Speak up, man, he chided. Don’t go all gooey-eyed and tongue-tied or she’ll think you’re a fool. 

“You are wonderful with them, Shelley,” he fumbled for the words like a child ill-prepared for the school spelling bee.

“Thank you, Mister… uh… I’m sorry… I don’t know your name. I haven’t seen you at children’s story hour before.”

“Oh I have more than enough reasons to return now,” he flashed her his best smile.

“Yes,” her smile tightened and he hoped he hadn’t irritated her. “My name is Constance. Shelley is my last name.”

“Constance,” he repeated. “I’m sorry. I assumed. I’m Gage.”

She shook his hand. “Pleasure to meet you, Gage.”

“How does one become a children’s librarian?” he asked.

“Are you looking to become one?” she teased. “It’s a long story. Now if you don’t mind, I have work to finish before my shift is done.”

“Have coffee with me,” he offered before he knew what he was saying.

“Excuse me?” she laughed, this time with an edge of nervousness.

“Then you can tell me about being a librarian…” he added. “And maybe recommend a good children’s story. I haven’t read many.”

She looked at him as if he had just given her a line.

“I’m serious… I didn’t really read when I was a kid, mostly because I was bouncing between foster homes.”

“How sad!” she said, and he felt a twinge of annoyance as he wasn’t looking for pity. “Reading is magical for a child… and an adult.”

“Grab coffee with me and we can talk about all the reading I’ve missed,” he offered.

“I can’t,” she replied meekly. “Try Princess Bride. I was just reading from it and I can’t recommend it enough. Lilith at circulation can help you.”

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Gage’s eyes widened in shock. This was only the second girl in his lifetime to resist his charms. He was intrigued, but he couldn’t hope to convince her now. He didn’t want to appear desperate. He checked out a copy of The Princess Bride and found a park bench.

It was nearly eight-thirty when he closed the cover. Constance was right. It was well-worth reading.

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Within a half-hour of wandering Four Bridges Park, Gage found an all-too-willing town gossip by the name of Nellie Spenster to dish on the mysterious librarian. He learned she was raised by a single dad. Her mother died young. She always had her nose in a book, and she was devoted to her dad. Upon his death, she inherited the library. He also learned she had a masters in library sciences, and that she had her heart broken by a young man from college.

So she’s single! he felt hopeful.

He would have to be respectful, but persistent. He had full confidence he could take her out for coffee by the end of the week. Upon returning the following evening, he made his offer again.

“Just a casual coffee,” he said. “Not a date. I’d like to get to know you better.”

“Then it is a date?”

“No…” he frowned in frustration.

“No?” she tiled her head. “Because you’d like a date. You’re just friend-zoning me so I’ll feel more comfortable.”

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His mouth dropped open before he could stop himself from looking like an idiot. She started to walk away and glanced over her shoulder.

The Phantom Tollbooth. Brilliant fiction.” 

He read the recommended book and returned the next day.

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“Are you Princess Rhyme or Reason? Might I rescue you from the Castle in the Air?” he smirked.

“No,” she smiled coyly. “And neither. I fancy myself as Humbug.”

He scowled. “Hardly!”

She giggled. “I’m kidding. Though now that you mention it, you need to flatter me into being your tour guide.”

He grinned slyly. “I’m not that green.”

“Oh yes you are,” she replied. “Where the Red Fern Grows. You’ll cry.”

His eyes widened in surprise. “I don’t cry over books.”

He cried, though he wasn’t about to admit it to her.

“Finished already?”

“Yes. It was good. Will you have coffee with me now?”

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“You’re too young for me.”

“I’m eighteen. I’m a man.”

“That is not enough to make you a man. Read To Kill a Mockingbird.”

He was intrigued. He took three days to finish it.

When he returned, she inquired, “What did you think of Atticus Fitch?”

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“He was committed to his principles whatever the cost,” he responded, though he was still in the dark about what that had to do with his standing invitation. “I take it that’s what you’re looking for… come on Constance. I keep coming back. That’s got to count for something. I want to get to know you over a cup of coffee. Is that too much to ask for?”

“Read Island of the Blue Dolphins.”

“And then?”

“You said you wanted to get to know me.”

Gage tried to read into the story. He was halfway through the latest recommendation when he was hit with a sudden realization. He was getting to know her. Maybe not in the way he’d like. Maybe not face to face. Yet there was something beautiful about sharing literature, something intimate in nature. He saw snarkiness like Buttercup in The Princess Bride, and a spirit of adventure like Milo from The Phantom Tollbooth. He sensed loyalty in her like coon dogs from Where the Red Fern Grows and commitment to principles like Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird. After finishing the last sentence of Island of the Blue Dolphins, he wondered if the librarian led a lonely life on her an island of her own making.

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Thirteen days after he met Constance Shelley, he did something he hadn’t done before. He dressed in a pair of nice slacks and a pullover blue sweater. He walked to the Wright Reading Room and waited on an outside bench until the library closed. He saw Constance lock the doors.

What does it mean?”

“Uh… Gage…” she looked surprised. “What does what mean?”

“Island of Blue Dolphins… it has some personal significance to you.”

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Constance looked at the ground, “My mother gave it to me… on my twelfth birthday… before she died.”

Her expression seemed fragile as if her carefully locked away tidal wave of emotion would break at any moment.

He stayed silent. He knew the pain of losing a parent.

“Did you need to return something?” she broke the silence first.  “Or are you here to ask me for coffee?”

“No, I…” he started and stopped. “I just came to tell you tonight that I brought you a gift…”

Her eyes widened.

“Don’t worry, there are no strings attached,” he reassured, running back to the bench and pulling a bouquet of purple peonies.

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“They aren’t terribly original, but they’re not roses. I didn’t want you to get the wrong message,” he laughed awkwardly, shoving his hands in his pockets. “I just wanted to thank you… Constance… for my summer reading… and to tell you I won’t be asking you for coffee again.”

Gage started to walk away, and was pleasantly surprised when he felt her hand brush his, and he stepped back in front of her.

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“Tea.”

He stood, dumbfounded.

Her face broke into the most beautiful smile he had ever seen as she spoke four little words that in any other context would have been a mere passing statement, but tonight they had special significance. They gave him hope.

“I don’t drink coffee.”


Word Count: 1479 

Picture Count: 12

Author’s Note: This story was submitted for the August 2016 Short Story Challenge over on the Sims Forums and placed third! Hooray! The month’s theme was summer love. You can read about contest and vote here

participant

At the suggestion of CathyTea from Cathy Tea’s SimLit Anthology, I decided to write a story about Gage Briody who has made appearances in multiple stories of mine. What better way to reboot his story – From Riverview, With Love!

I’ve also always wanted to do a story with Constance Shelley as I think she’s a beautiful base-game Sim. I tweaked her appearance slightly and gave her a bit of back story, but I think she’ll make a fine addition to future stories of mine, and Gage’s life. I kinda had this song rolling around in my head while I was writing her character. Brownie points for anyone who knows this musical. 😉 And yes, the original is the best in my opinion. (FYI, the sound is a little quiet at the beginning of the clip.) 

I hope you enjoyed!  

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Next Post: 1.3 Artist in Residence

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24 thoughts on “Interlude: Summer Reading

  1. Pingback: Summer Reading (Sim Short) | TheKrazyCrazyLifeofKass

  2. Constance was so awesome! And it was lovely how she introduced herself to Gage by making him read books. That’s sneaky, educational, and sweet all at the same time. Also yay for being a tea-drinker. 😀 It was also sweet how Gage just kept coming back – I like to think it was partly for the books and because he was intrigued by the challenge – and how he finally understood what was going on and managed to in the end deal with things like a gentleman. So yeah, I really liked this.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi RipuAncestor, thanks for reading. I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I think Gage needed someone to kinda put him in his place a bit and what better person than a librarian? 😉 Lol… yes, sneaky, educational, and sweet is a great way to describe her methods. I also enjoyed mentioning some of my favorite books from my own childhood. They are all awesome reads. Yes, and the tea thing just made sense and felt like a cute way to end things. I am a coffee drinker first, but I do enjoy a good cup of tea, especially when the weather is cool. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hmm… I haven’t actually read any of the books mentioned here (though I know of some), so maybe I should pick some of them up. I’m a bit weird about coffee because I like the taste of it in things like chocolate and baked goods, and I even like to sometimes eat roasted coffee beans, but whenever water is added into the equation, all my like for coffee disappears.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Coffee is an acquired taste. I didn’t like coffee until late high school, and grew to appreciate it more in my undergrad.

        I love all the books I mentioned here, and they all had a way of shaping my identity, I think. So I see a lot of myself in Constance. If I had to pick a favorite from the mentioned list, it would be a straight up tie between Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Phantom Tollbooth, although all the other books are good too.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. So… first: while reading this, I kept thinking of the librarian in *that movie*! So, how awesome to discover at the end that this song was going through your head while writing this! 🙂

    Second… I grew up on all these books. And it’s so true that the books we read as children are the portraits of who we are. What a great way for her to let him get to know her.

    Third: Yay for tea!

    Really loved this! Now let’s hop over to our Circle Thread and talk about Gage! LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    • @CathyTea thank you so much for reading. I appreciate your thoughts very much. I was wandering around Riverview trying to think of a good story for Gage and Constance just sort of happened so I backed out of the game, cloned the town, and started a new file with my ideas about the library and reading and books and Marian the Librarian. Lol. It’s nice to know you were thinking about Marian too… I love Music Man. One of my all-time favorite musicals. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who read these stories as a kid. They are among many of my favorites. It was hard to pick the few I did. Maybe I’ll write about books more in later episodes with Gage and Constance. 😉 Yes, I had this idea in the back of my mind the whole time that Constance was more of a tea drinker than a coffee drinker, and I wanted to make the distinction from Kass too (since Gage and Kass shared the coffee thing). I’m so glad you enjoyed the chapter. Yes, I’m happy to talk about Gage over at the circle thread. 🙂

      Like

  4. Aww, this was great. Of course, I am a librarian, and I can say firsthand that it is amazing how much you really get to know your library patrons from the books they like to read and discussing stories with them, and I’m forever grateful that some of my favorite authors were suggested to me over the circulation desk from a patron going, “Oh, if you like that, then you must check out….” It is a gift readers continue to give to each other!

    I also have this sweet spot for Riverview, it’s a bit more lush and green than my home town but otherwise reminds me of home because of the river connection and the farming community, so it’s the “home base” of my Simself and I even have a National Library Week card of my Simself, dressed in librarian garb, in the Wright Reading Room! Seeing images of that place bring this strong fondness, and the townies there really do feel like “neighbors” to me!

    Another interesting note… last year for Summer Reading at the library where I work, I read Island of the Blue Dolphins again! Such a good book. (And though I do like coffee, I’ve made the jump to a tea preference recently myself! That ending left a big ol’ smile on my face!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mastress Alita. I appreciate you taking the time to read my submission. I had fun with this month’s theme and I truly enjoyed writing this chapter. Some months it’s easier than others, and August was one of these months.
      I love the library. I remember when I got my first library card. The first book I checked out was the Boxcar Children Ice Creamy Mystery and my mom read it with me. I have fond memories of that library. I also loved the children’s events that they hosted. Educational and fun. As an adult, I don’t go to the library as often, probably about once or twice a month, but I certainly enjoy still checking things out. I too have had various people recommend books to me at the library. One of my close friends is also a librarian and we gush about books and what a fantastic resource the library is all the time.
      Again thanks for reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • The city I was born in had a pretty awful public library, and the school library of my first elementary school had certain sections you were only allowed to check out from based on your grade. In 2nd grade, I was an advanced reader and needed chapter books with lots of words, but that section only had picture books, so my parents bought me a boxset of the Laura Engells Wilder “Little House on the Prairie” books and I read through those every night before bed! After I moved to my current city, the school library was great and you could check out ANYTHING YOU WANTED! I was quite literally like a kid in a candy shop, and I remember binging on the Boxcar Children books, hahaha!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. So, I really enjoyed this story! He was a little creepy at first, but the more he read what she suggested, the more I liked him. I especially loved the idea of getting to know her through books, and how he noticed and acknowledged it. Brilliant! I love reading, too, so I totally get why she did it. My hubby does not like reading that much, but I’m ok with that. I grew up reading Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books, which is where I get my love of mysteries to this day. I also loved reading the book series called Mandie plus a few other odds and ends. My family went to the library practically every week or every other, especially during the summer during the reading programs the library put on. One book that I still have to this day with its dog-eared pages and all, is a book about one night of twisters hitting a town. It’s called “The Night of the Twisters”. Between that book and the movie “Twister”, my love of tornadoes and storms were formed. We all have our own little stories. Thanks for sharing Constance and Gage’s story. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • @lovesstorms Thanks for reading and commenting. I totally grew up reading Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys and I’ve actually read some of the Mandie books. I love mysteries and crime novels, but this was a fun chapter to write with some of my childhood/early teen favorites too. I loved the summer reading program at my library. My little sister loves tornadoes too. We watch Twister together about once a year. I’m glad you enjoyed and thank you for reading. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow! We have a lot in common then. I love to read, though spend less time now doing it. And half the time I do read, I end up analyzing the way I get hooked and why. haha!

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  6. This was very cute. 🙂 It’s great how we all have different takes on the townies, and I enjoyed seeing Constance in this light. It was sweet how she had Gage read all those books, and I loved how persistent he was.

    And oh, the song is from “Music Man,” 🙂

    I like tea but I’m a total coffee junkie. Haha. I grew up on it and like mine strong and black – nothing added to it. I’m a huge espresso lover.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading sweetnightingale. Yes, I am a hardcore coffee drinker. I do like a bit of milk (just enough for a brunette, not a blonde) and a smidge of sugar. Other than that, I’m good. I’d pick tea if I have a cold or if it’s a particularly crisp day or later in the evening.
      I enjoyed writing Constance and Gage. I’m glad you enjoyed them too.

      Like

  7. Pingback: Dr. Jasmine’s Casebook: A Bookworm’s Vadish | Cathy Tea's SimLit Anthology

  8. Pingback: 1.2 First Warning (FRWL) – Livin A Simmin' Life

  9. Pingback: 1.3 Artist in Residence (FRWL) – Livin A Simmin' Life

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