There was an orderly queue outside the library when Morag blundered along the corridor clutching her key like a weapon. By the looks of them they were mostly students or pensioners who had no other place to be.
‘Sorry, sorry, I’m a bit late. I had some trouble with...’ Morag tried to construct a legitimate reason why a responsible woman in her thirties might be late for her job on a Wednesday morning. The old guys were giving her withering looks as if to point out that her excuse had better be good since they had too few hours left on this earth to stand outside a council library all morning. ‘I... I had trouble with.’ Morag’s brain was refusing to cooperate, and a heavily pregnant teenager gave her a withering stare. ‘I... was... I had.’ Morag stared at her key for a moment forgetting where her sentence was supposed to be going. ‘I..... had trouble with childcare’.
No one reacted to this fantastically reasonable lie, she’d got away with it. She stared at the motley crew of people with nowhere else to be and tried to pull herself together, these guys needed her. An old man with a stained beige jumper looked pointedly at the key she was still brandishing wildly in the direction of her customers and Morag vaguely remembered why she was standing there.
‘Right! Right Larry, I’ll be opening up now then’. She nodded this fact wildly, as if this was confirmation for the group that everything was now ok, and turned around swiftly, her feet losing their grip with the earth a little as she did so. She played the part of the middle-aged librarian badly, it had to be said.
She sat behind the desk staring at the blank computer screen. Checking the clock on the wall; she could confirm that she was over three hours late. That was a new record. Beth wouldn’t be in until lunchtime, due to real childcare arrangements. Or perhaps she too had simply been out drinking all night on a Tuesday. Who knew what the team of librarians secretly got up to?
Morag blundered about in her office attempting to construct a cup of coffee around her ‘filing system’ of piles of paper, books and floppy disks. She knocked a pile of disks into the overflowing bin, poured coffee granules all over her (possibly) important paperwork and spilled some slightly iffy smelling milk all over a pile of leather bound Austen’s. She noticed all of these minor problems, but didn’t really care. She was shaking so badly that drinking the coffee was a near impossible task, but she had to try, for the sake of her exploding brain. She sat at her desk clutching the cup for dear life and tried to work things out in her head.
Her first port of call was to think back to the last thing she clearly remembered. She and James had been propping up the bar in Weatherspoons, clutching the last of the pub’s supply of Penderyn. She’d been trying to make James guess what her profession was. What had he said? Had he guessed right? Morag vaguely recalled James’ appallingly stinted attempts at complimenting her by suggesting ‘model’ and ‘actress’ despite the fact that her face had by that point become puce, and her clothes were riding up and riding down in all the wrong places.
Christ. She put her head on the table and wrapped her arms around the back of her neck muttering ‘fuck fuck fuck’ to herself like a mantra.
Morag sighed, uttered one last ‘fuck’ and looked up.
‘Larry. Hello.’ Larry didn’t look especially pleased by the service Morag was failing to offer him, but then he didn’t look surprised either. Morag scanned his books through and then allowed her head to crash back down onto the desk. She instantly regretted the action, her ears started throbbing immediately and her coffee spilled and splashed all over her keyboard. She didn’t move for a few minutes, allowing the coffee to simply drip down onto her trouser leg and scold her skin.
Sighing, she eventually sat up and stared out across her empire. The majority of the books were in the wrong place, the chairs were worn, drawn on and often three legged, the customers were in a similar state of disarray.
‘Welcome to Ceredigion County Council’s dedicated scheme to improve services in Aberystwyth’
She muttered to herself. She scratched her head and decided it was time to check her phone and see what horrors she’d decided to perform with it the night before. Call logs revealed numerous calls to friends from school, friends from university, and other people she barely bothered to keep track of anymore. That didn’t really matter. The friends that did had long since learnt to expect drunken rambling- often tearful- two, three, and four a.m. calls from her. They were always fairly good at placating her and persuading her to tumble into bed with a large glass of water on her bedside table.
They certainly wouldn’t have encouraged her to drink Advocaat. She must have been very rebellious then. She checked her texts and discovered numerous entries from ‘Jmnss’. Presumably this was an attempt at spelling the word James made by her at the end of the evening. They ranged from soppy, to unspeakably pornographic, right round to soppy again. The last text was from him, saying ‘on chipplu, gnneing chips andg closow agln’. That could mean literally anything. Closow? Moscow maybe? Why would he be talking about Moscow? It said something about chips. Chippy chips or casino chips?
Her brain was hurting again, so she gave up and threw her phone over her shoulder into the office. She’d just have to worry about that later. Right now she needed a nap, and she was going to have one.