The Librarians

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I was walking through the park this morning when I saw the tallest woman I have ever seen, kneeling in the flowerbeds. She wasn’t picking flowers; she was lifting each one and… well, scanning it like a supermarket cashier, with a small device in her hand. She was engrossed in whatever she was doing (lift beep drop, lift beep drop), and she didn’t look up when I stopped to watch.

I would have walked away and forgotten about it if not for what came next. She fiddled with the device a bit, frowned and slapped it on the side, and then held it out and looked around expectantly, finally gazing directly at me. I suddenly realized just how beautiful she was; it wasn’t as obvious until she was looking at you. I am not normally a compulsive person, but I found myself nearly unbearably curious to know what she was doing. I walked toward her.

“May I ask what you’re doing?” I asked, trying my best to sound curious and not confrontational.

She smiled and indicating the park behind me with a nod of her head. I turned to see that I was not the only one approaching. I was part of a loose ring of animals, mostly squirrels and birds, but at least two raccoons and an opossum. My jaw dropped; I had never seen anything like it.

One by one, the woman chose an animal and scanned it; I saw that she was choosing one of each species. When she got to a blue jay she smiled with delight, playing with it for a moment before releasing it. Then she stood, and I realized how tall she really was. She looked…  amazing. She was at least a foot and a half taller than me, surrounded by animals: a stunning nature spirit, half queen and half Snow White.

I found her irresistible. I took a step toward her, then another. She smiled at me, welcoming. I shivered. At that moment I felt that I had never met anyone half as perfect as she was, and I knew deep down that she loved me. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s how I felt at the time.

I lifted my hand to her. She lifted her device. Beep. I didn’t even watch, entranced as I was with her. Suddenly, I found my voice. “Can I go with you?” I asked.

Her laugh was delightful. “I’m sorry,” she said, “but we’ve already collected our human specimens. Now we are simply recording additional genetic diversity.”

“Why?” I asked.

“We are librarians. We record and store for posterity. We’ve been especially busy here because we have such limited time.”

“What’s going to happen to you?” I asked. I couldn’t bear the thought of something happening to such an angel.

She smiled. “You misunderstand. I was referring to how much time your planet has left.” She suddenly looked concerned. “Have I frightened you?”

I shook my head. As long as she was with me, I couldn’t imagine anything frightening me.

“Oh, that’s right,” she said, looking down at the device in her hands. “This damn thing.” She touched it, and instantly the crowd of birds and animals nuzzling her fled. When the air cleared of flapping wings and panicking squirrels, she had… changed. I don’t know how else to describe it. I felt embarrassed over my precious reaction to her. She was still the tallest woman I had ever seen, but maybe not quite as tall as I thought. And, if I’m to be honest, quite ordinary looking. And now I was frightened.

“You’re serious?” I asked, in spite of what I had just witnessed. “How? And when?”

She shook her head, packing her device away without looking at me. “Sorry, I’m not allowed to say. I shouldn’t have even said as much as I did.” She began to turn away and then said, “I’ll tell you what. You’ve got at least another month left. So go have fun, huh? Forget I said anything.”

She walked away, and I was too shocked to follow.

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