Faye parted the curtains of the window next to her desk. Fat droplets of rain beat onto the old panes of glass, creating a symphony of dull drumming. She didn’t like the rain all that much. It slowed progress, she thought, and the leaky roof still hadn’t been fixed.
She wasn’t going to let the rain slow her down, though. At the thrift store, Faye found a few books that could use new bindings. The pages were a little yellowed but otherwise fine. Once she was done restoring them, she would sell them online or keep them if she found them interesting enough.
Today, Annika joined her in the library. Earlier, Mabel brought the two cookies and drinks: tea for Annika and coffee for Faye, which she preferred. Annika sat in a chair next to the window Faye was standing at, sipping tea and reading the book The Art of Ancient Battle. It was a book that Leaf once said was “so boring, I’d burn it for heat”. Faye knew it was slight hyperbole, but she was somewhat right. It wasn’t a book Faye had any interested in, but Anni took a liking to it, so she decided not to get rid of it. Faye noticed she was nearly done reading it.
“Do you like books like that?” She asked.
“Kinda,” Anni said, but Faye took that to mean yes since she was at least 400 pages into the nearly 500 page tome.
“I can see if I have more, if you’re interested.”
“That would be nice,” Anni said, smiling slightly.
Faye let go of the heavy maroon curtain and returned to her desk, sinking into the leather chair. The gold lettering on the black cloth cover of the book she was restoring was nearly dry. A Farewell to Arms, it read. After some research, Faye learned that restored versions of this particular book would sell for hundreds of dollars. A lucky thrift store find, she figured. Maybe the roof could finally get fixed.
She closed her eyes and absorbed the ambiance of the manor. The rain was getting heavier. The house creaked, most likely the pipes knocking about in the walls. They did that many times a day. She could hear Oxalia and Mabel talking in the kitchen, probably discussing dinner since it was about that time. Old houses in the middle of the woods were relaxing, but they were also expensive. Faye opened her eyes to see Leaf standing in the doorway of the library. Faye stifled a groan as Leaf sashayed over.
“Hey book lady,” Leaf teased, “what are you working on?”
“Restorations,” Faye answered, hardening her brow at the intruder.
“Neato.” Leaf stretched and undid her ginger bun, letting messy locks fall on her shoulders. She was wearing her “napping sweater,” an oversized peach-colored sweatshirt that she wore when she decided she was going to do nothing for the day. It seemed she was always coming up with reasons not to do anything for an entire day, and rain was a popular excuse.
“Need something?” Faye asked, desperately wanting to go back to listening to the rain and waiting for the lettering to dry.
“You know I’m not a conversationalist.”
“And it’s my job to break that habit!”
Faye rolled her eyes. “How many naps have you taken today?”
“Just one, I’ll have you know,” Leaf said in a playful tone, “How many books have you read today?”
“None, I’ve been working on this all day.” Faye motioned to the still-drying book in front of her. “I think Annika’s been reading more than me lately.” Annika looked up when she heard her name.
Leaf turned around to face her and turned back suddenly, her hand on her reddened cheek. “I didn’t know she was in here,” she whispered.
“Anni’s taken a liking to the library. She’s quiet too, maybe you could learn from her.”
“Well… then the manor would be too quiet.”
“That’s a bad thing?”
“Yes! Every house needs something to give it character.”
“That’s usually a tree or something, not a loud-mouthed girl.”
“Hey, I’m not that loud.”
“I can sometimes hear you all the way from your room upstairs.”
“Well yeah, the house is old, sound travels.”
“I don’t think that’s how it works, Leaf,” Faye said, holding back a laugh. Leaf was annoying, sure, but she could make Faye laugh sometimes.
Leaf grabbed a cookie from the plate on the desk and munched, looking around the library and up at the high ceiling. “Well, I’ve got stuff to do,” she said, walking away. “I’ll see you around.” Faye knew that “stuff” was probably taking another nap and complaining about when dinner will be made.
She sat back in her big leather chair and closed her eyes once more, listening to the rain, the rattling of the old pipes, and Annika turning pages. She thought of her initial plan after high school—moving far away from her hometown and starting anew somewhere else. When Leaf caught wind of her plan senior year, she cried and begged her not to go. Leaf would cry at the drop of a hat often, but this time Faye knew her tears were genuine and decided to stay. I wouldn’t have it any other way, she thought, a rare smile creeping onto her face.