I realized I was standing there with my mouth open, so I snapped it shut and
forced myself toward the shelves. I picked an aisle without even looking and
began wandering through it, running my fingers along the spines of the books. I
stopped and plucked one off the shelf, stared at the black markings inside until
I grew dizzy. I heard a sound then and looked up to see a couple standing at the
end of the aisle, kissing. When a man turned in and started toward me, I nearly
fell over with fearuntil I realized he wasnt paying me any mind at all, but
was staring intently at something through a gap on one of the higher shelves.
Suddenly I heard the faint sound of sobbing. I looked around, startled, then
tiptoed over, as far away from the man as possible, to peer through one of the
I saw a woman with a scarf pulled over her face, sitting at the table and
crying. Mary Finn sat across from her. I heard the shush of whispers but could
not make out what they were saying. The two women were almost opposites: the one
hunched over and covered from head to toe, the other awash in color, her black
hair coiling down her bare arms, her tanned, freckled shoulders glimmering as if
with oil. Marys eyes were intent on the woman across from her, and she reached
out her hand to the woman, patted her arm. I moved closer, out of one row and
into another, and another, where I could hear. It was one advantage of my size:
I could move quietly, as if I were not there at all. By the time I was able to
see again, Mary had set out a deck of cardstarot cards, I would learn laterand
was explaining them to the woman. Then, for a moment, the womans scarf slipped
and I saw her face in profile, only for a split second before she quickly
covered herself again. It was Mrs. Adams from down the road, I realized,
shocked. But she was different now, rubbed raw and bare. I could see her
sadness, slipping off her body like smoke.
But how can I make him stay faithful? I heard her whisper, her voice all
twisted up from any way Id ever heard it.
I have no mind for vision or prophecies, Mary whispered then. I just know
what the cards say. But if I were you I would wear a yellow skirt and toss
yarrow root in his tea before bed. It will keep him close to home when he wants
to wander. She reached down and held up a handful of something green and
glittering, then quickly wrapped it in a kerchief and slid it to Mrs. Adams.
Thank you, the woman whispered, wiping her face. Mary looked up then, straight
at me, through the books. Her eyes like cats eyes, blue as sapphires. I ducked.
A moment later I heard Mrs. Adams shuffling away, and prayed Mary was following
My heart pounded.
What are you doing, little girl? I heard Marys smoky, low voice over me and
looked up. The scent of gingerbread wafted down the aisle.
Im sorry, I whispered, but she just smiled and beckoned for me to come toward
Have you come to visit me? she asked. These women, they always want my
advice. They think Im some kind of witch. She made a spooky face and I laughed
without thinking. Then they ignore me on the streets, pretend they havent come
by to tell me their heartbreaks and woes. Theyre embarrassed that they have
hearts at all, I think.
I smiled. I sneaked out of my house. Ive never been here before.
Come, she said. Theres probably a line out the door by now.
I began following her through the stacks to the front of the library, staring at
her multicolored swirling skirt.
Have you come for some books, too? she asked, looking back.
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...