On books, buyers and balloons

It’s a wet and windy Saturday afternoon. The Spanish protestors gathered at the Spire have painted balloons with slogans forecasting a Revolution. Moore Street is quiet but for a vendor who’s shouting “umbrellas aunl’ a foiva” again and again and again. Inside the Ilac centre, broadband salesmen and the pumping beats from cheap clothes stores are competing for shoppers’ attention. A little boy pressed into a communion suit is dragging his parents into Game. Then, as you go up the stairs and the automatic gate pulls you in: silence.

Seated at one of the desks is a man who has taken off his brown leather watch and propped it up against an empty bottle of peach ice tea. If you are close enough, you can hear the swish of his highlighter pen over a paragraph about marketing strategy. The air is musty and the carpet tattered. A security guard moves suddenly and the keys attached to his belt jingle to the background hum of a hoover, which has just come on.

The faces are either young and foreign or Irish and old. There’s a special table reserved for the elderly and at it spindly fingers are crinkling the pages of newspapers. Blu-tac-ed to one of the shelves is a laminated poster, which reads “Books can help”. There’s a single title lying on that shelf. It’s called When Parents separate- helping your children cope.

A girl drops a pile of books on the counter and asks whether she can return them. The librarian, a lady with a wispy brown bun and rosy cheeks looks carefully at the screen: “Now, I have to tell you, there’s a bit of a fine on your account”. The girl’s eyes flash briefly, “ Yeah, I paid that in Pearse Street last Monday..” The lady’s nose scrunches up a little. “Em.. These are the titles we have here as overdue: With My Lazy Eye, The Colloquial Guide to Arabic and Homecoming. Is that right?” “That’s right”, the girl replies. “But I paid €4.50 for those in Pearse. It’s all cleared on my online account.” The lady pauses. ”hmm”, she says. Her lips curl into a smile. “Alright, I’ll take you at your word”. “Thanks”, the girl mutters awkwardly. “I wouldn’t l..”

The stench of a tweed suit comes and goes. For a split second, it’s silent again. Then the bounce of a book spine as it’s returned to the shelf: Closing time. Outside, it’s cleared up. Yer man is selling fake Adidas tracksuit tops now. The protestors are gone from the Spire but there’s a single black balloon bopping about in the breeze.

9 thoughts on “On books, buyers and balloons

  1. Great one you have – I paused at “Then, as you go up the stairs and the automatic gate pulls you in: silence.” And took a while to digest it as a smile slowly drew on my face 🙂

    Hm…so..did you pay for your fine?:p


  2. Good stuff Kate. Lots of great detail, but for some reason this is my favorite line: The faces are either young and foreign or Irish and old. Not the most descriptive, but says a lot.


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