:: previous – Summer Whispers
As I make my way to Misa’s office, the library is chaotic with helping hands rearranging furniture, setting up lights, and testing audio, making it difficult to navigate.
Tools and supplies are scattered in heavy duty carts on every corner, bannisters are being cleaned and polished, wet floor signs block hallways, and endless chatter echoes throughout. Even a painter’s brush, dripping with violet, narrowly misses my shirt as he bumps into me while admiring his work. And in the auditorium, a choir has practiced the same three songs for the last three hours.
But the sweet scent of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies passed around keeps smiles on every face I pass, which softens my displeasure.
The hustle and bustle is expected as King Resolut will attend the artifact gala the library is hosting. His thoughts on Earth and the hourglass’ arrival are something I’m excited to hear. As is everyone.
Unscathed from my journey, I finally reach Misa’s office.
Her door is cracked, but I ring the bell anyway and a soft melody of wind chimes singing in a summer breeze plays.
“Oh—hello?” She calls from inside.
“Hello Misa.” I open the door slowly and find her lounging in the window nook with a book in her lap. She’s beautiful in her blouse and trousers, and her long dark hair is draped over both her shoulders.
“Hey Mark!” She waves me in.
The window beside her is open, sending a cozy, cool breeze inside, as well as a few leaves from a nearby tree that floats past her, drifting across the wood floor.
“Just wanted to say hi, check in.” I look at her door. “Open, or…?”
“Oh, you can leave it how it was, please.”
I leave it cracked and take a seat in the corner armchair.
“Thanks for visiting me.”
“Of course.” I pause and glance around her office. The noise is non-existent here. Perfect. “So, how was the game?”
“You know, I don’t think I would’ve gotten into basketball if not for Mili. It was so fun. You watched it, right?”
Misa’s smile is so big her eyes vanish. She’s still on a high after attending the championship game the other night.
“I didn’t miss a second.”
“Did you see me? I caught a t-shirt the Skyhawk was throwing to the crowd at half-time.” Her giggles exude innocence. “He was dancing all funny. It was cute.”
“No, but I wish I had.”
“It was a one-handed catch! Mili was shocked. It felt like someone placed it in my hand–and it fits!”
“You’re quite the lucky person, Misa.”
Her cheeks flush as she shrugs.
She walks over to her desk drawer and takes out a small green stone, holding it up for me to see. “Or maybe because of this green aventurine. I brought it to the game for luck.”
She tosses it to me, and I catch it in mid-air.
“Ah. The stone of opportunity.” I roll the rough rock in my palm. It’s a foggy emerald shade, freckled with rusty specks and faint ivory patches here and there. “You may have single-handedly helped Southern to victory.”
I return the stone and my hand accidentally brushes against her soft palm.
“Maybe.” Her gray-blue eyes shimmer. I can’t help but mirror her and do the same in return. “Do you collect gemstones, Mark?”
“No. But I’ve read a thing or two.”
“I love them. They’re like little gifts of nature. I feel like I can manifest what I need whenever I hold them, you know? That’s why I brought this aventurine today, but it can be iffy sometimes.”
Longingly, she sighs as she looks at the neat tower of thick books stacked beside the nook. She has a lot on her plate for this assignment.
“How’s the research going?” I grab a book from the top of the stack and read the cover: The Crow King: Year One. “You’re researching Barasa Crow?”
“No, his father, Barasa Wolf. I was drawn to that one about Crow when I was collecting my books, and I had this stone with me so I listened and took it with.”
“Yeah… to my intuition.” She looks down bashfully, as if it’s a disparaging trait.
“I understand. Are you going to read it?”
“Maybe.” Her head tilts a little as she stares at me. “Do you think I should?”
I shrug and put the book back on top of the stack. “It’s your choice. Although, I have a different edition you may want to read before these other books.”
“What different edition?” She studies me like she’s trying to complete a puzzle.
“An edition that’ll assist with your research.”
“Where? Is it in the archives?”
“I’d call it a private collection.”
Her eyes narrow. “Where at?”
“At my house.”
“Oh. Could you drop it off later? Or I can pick it up?”
“No. I can’t share it outside of my home.”
“Oh…” She looks at me, confused. “Um. Is it cursed or something?” She giggles. “Maybe I shouldn’t read it–”
“I’d like you to.”
“I’ll bring you to it.”
Deep pink fills her cheeks. She looks down at her notebook on the desk, mindlessly flipping through filled pages. Her cursive is superb.
“I don’t–can Mili come too?”
“Um…” She stares at the stack of books again, then back to me. “I don’t know, Mark. It doesn’t seem… appropriate, you know? It’ll take time to read.”
“It’ll be no time at all.” She frowns. “I understand it’s an odd request.” My voice lowers. “But it’s the only way I can share it with you.”
“Why can’t Mili come?”
“Because it’s not meant for him yet.”
“It’ll help lighten the load of your assignment, I assure you.”
She looks around apprehensively, as if on the lookout for potential spies listening nearby.
“How much will it help with my assignment?”
“It’s everything you need to know. You’ll be done.”
Her jaw slacks.
She looks over at the books again, shaking her head.
“I mean, I-I guess…”
I check the time. Twelve exactly.
“Is Emilian joining you for lunch this afternoon?”
“No. He texted that something came up. I was gonna grab a salad.”
“Good. Shall we go?”
“Now? I… All my stuff is here.”
“It’s your office, you may leave it.” I find her Do Not Disturb sign and place it around the front doorknob. “There. No one dares interrupt bearers of this sign. That’s equivalent to a crime here.” I smile. “Bring your diary with you.”
She grabs it off her desk. “But–”
“Don’t worry, we’ll return.” She stares at me, and I can feel her thoughts as she weighs the pros and cons of my ask. Her heart is pounding, screaming yes, yet Emilian lingers in her mind. “You can trust me Misa, always.”
“But I’m confused. What good would it do to read your edition if it can’t leave your house? Isn’t that what you said? I’d need to show proof of my findings. My sources. Oh! Wait… I could make a copy at your house. Would that work?”
She makes me smile.
“Shall we go?”
With apprehension, she nervously bites into her glossed bottom lip.