I used to love books until the school librarian put me off them. I know, it’s as ludicrous as it sounds.
He used to come immaculately dressed in the same grey jumper-shirt combination, caressing the returned titles lovingly into their special place on the shelves before school like the sort of possessive maniac who talks to their car while they wash it.
But the chiming of the morning bell brought out his inner evil. He sat unnervingly still, like some kind of taxidermy grinch, at the entrance to his fiction-filled fortress. He peered over his specs, shushing us with a single, spindly finger placed over his thin lips as we filed past him into his lair. Even without moving a muscle, he had an omnipresent gaze. A sixth sense for the well-being of his beloved books.
Despite his seemingly clumsy lankiness, he had a remarkable ability to glide soundlessly, appearing suddenly over your shoulder with his protruding neck, ready to scold. Cracked the spine did you boy? he’d say, his face contorted like he had just smelt something rancid. If you’d committed this cardinal sin, you were in trouble. Apoplectic, flecks of his spittle would rain down on your face as he hissed about how books were the keys to the inner workings of minds far superior to our own and should therefore be treated with the utmost respect. The hushed tones of these outbursts and the proximity at which he would speak into your ear only made them more traumatic.
Such was the fear that he instilled about even handling books that I haven’t been able to touch one for years. When I see them lying around all dog-eared, I think of the librarian and a shiver runs through me.
My life tainted by one man’s selfish love of literature.