The red hair threw him off. He was zoned in on the red balloon – so focused that he walked right past me. I moved quickly, purposefully into Science Fiction. Please don’t see me. Please don’t see me! I prayed to the library gods.
Standing still behind a rotating bookcase I stared down the row. Tolkien… Tolkien… Come on… Where are you? There. No time for relief. He must be already reading the balloon’s clue and moving in this direction. I tuck the envelope between books, look around, and panic. Distracted and looking back towards the entrance, he is standing in the middle of the only exit from Fiction. No escape. I scurry to the end of the row of shelves and peek out. I can see the balloon floating now above a book covered table.
Wrong! Oh god. It was the clue. We shouldn’t have used one from a Harry Potter book. He must be confused thinking my favorite book is one of those. No! Come on Scott… You know better.”
I crouch low and hide behind the shelf and a couple of book carts. One is empty. Crawling forward on my hands and knees, I peek through the cart out at him. Fumbling for my cell, a new plan forms.
“Mimi?! Mimi!” I whisper into the phone. “Maureen, he’s in the wrong section. He must’ve misunderstood. You need to come in and distract him so I can get away, but you have to point him in the right direction too. Lord of the Rings. Why is he by Harry Potter?”
“Okay, okay. I’ll be right in.” She pauses, “I’ll tell him I’m doing research for school or something.”
I crouch lower, almost flat on the floor. Can’t believe he walked right past me before. I had just handed the balloon and clue over to the librarian behind the desk. He only saw the balloon; no one else in the room existed.
Nearby voices pull me out of my analysis. Quietly, I get to my feet ready to move at any moment.
“Oh hey. What are you doing here?”
“Uh hey.” It sounded like he was smiling. “You don’t know?”
“Know? Know what? I’m just here for some research.”
I slowly walk further away toward the back of Fiction by the graphic novels.
“Really? You don’t know why I’m here?”
Come on Maureen. Work those acting skills.
“Seriously,” she laughs. “Why are you here?”
“I’m looking for a book. This is a library.”
“Yea okay. I figured you’d be more in the comic book section or something.”
No! My adrenaline soars as the foot of his sweater I can see moves toward my area. My flight response kicks in, and I’m off running full tilt between the shelves, past a bemused sister, past a startled librarian, and out the door into the cold air.
Maureen follows less than a minute later. Did he find it? I gesture a questioning thumbs up. She smiles and returns the gesture confidently.