Faithwriters.com challenge – Advanced Level – 18 Jan 2018 – Topic: bored
“Oh, hello! Veronica Harper, isn’t it?”
“My name’s Ronnie.” In response to a disapproving look from the older woman, Ronnie smoothed out her tight leopard print sweater.
“Yes, well … Ronnie … I hope you’re better than the last girl they sent us. The books on this trolley need to go back on the shelves. Make sure you put them in the right Dewey decimal classification and in order or author.”
Ronnie put on a sugary smile and curtsied. “Certainly Miss Jardine!” She grabbed the trolley, and set off, high heels clacking on the polished floor.”
Ronnie could feel the librarian’s eye boring into her shoulders. She gave a flick of her skater skirt and disappeared down the History aisle. As Ronnie began to find her way around the library Miss Jardine began asking her to help readers locate books.
But when the library was quiet, Ronnie became bored . One day, she idly picked up a novel and thumbed through the pages. The youngest daughter of a successful family became unexpectedly pregnant, the child’s father was absent and her parents were disapproving. Ronnie was gripped by the powerful emotions the young mother experienced.
A discreet cough brought Ronnie back to the present. Miss Jardine was stood at the end of the shelves, watching her. “Time to lock up.” The voice was terse but there was a ghost of smile.
Whenever she was bored, Ronnie sought out her novel, following the birth, childhood and adolescence of a young girl with no prospects. She wished for a happy ending, perhaps as much for herself as the fictional child. But real life insisted on intruding.
One quiet afternoon, Miss Jardine called Ronnie over the desk. “This gentleman is doing some research into his ancestors. Would you help him? You should probably begin in the records section.”
Ronnie shrugged. “This way,” and she set off for the far side of the library.
Looking sideways at the young man, Ronnie noticed his drab clothes, crooked glasses and shaggy hair topped with a small leather circle. “You’re Jewish,” she remarked.
“Yes.” replied the young man. “My name is Johnny Newman. My family escaped from Germany just after the war started. My gran’s dead and my mum changed our name to hide our past. But I want to know all about it: what it was like for them and how they escaped.”
“My mum was put up for adoption and my dad left when she got pregnant. That’s all I know about my family.”
“I’m on my own too” Johnny’s voice was a whisper. “That’s why I want to know about my history.”
In the records section, Johnny asked for Births, Marriages and Deaths. “I’m looking for my grandma. She called herself Eve Miller, but that wouldn’t be her real name. They made themselves sound English to be accepted. I’d guess she’s Eva Müller. It has a u with two dots over it, an umlaut; you pronounce it ‘oo’”
The search went on for days. Eventually, Ronnie got bored and wandered off. She found a book about Jews in the 2nd Word War. The stories captivated her; she became engrossed in the struggle to survive under tyrannical oppression, and the desperate measures taken to escape. In the centre of the book were photographs depicting the horrors of war. Ronnie stopped at a photo of two young girls. She peered closely at the picture for a few moments, then called to Johnny.
“Hey, look at this! The girl on the right.”
“What am I looking at?”
“That face, the eyes and nose, and even the hair; that’s exactly like me when I was 8.”
Johnny read the caption: “Eva Müller and her sister Gerta. My grandma?” Johnny peered at the girl on the left of the photo.
“She’s a bit like my mum, but I can’t be sure. We need to look up records of Jews who came to England.”
“I know where they are.” Ronnie was suddenly excited. Days went by, but Ronnie never got bored .
Then, “found it. Gerta Müller went to live with the Wilsons. My mum once told me her real mum had died, but her name was Geraldine Wilson. Must be the same person”
Johnny beamed: “And I’ve traced my grandma to Eva Müller. That means we’re cousins. We’re not alone any more.”
As they hugged and laughed aloud, Ronnie caught a glimpse of Miss Jardine at the end of the aisle, smiling broadly.