Emily ached to look into her eyes. She took a deep breath and ran. She didn’t look back.
She raced on through the roads. Silence stiffened the city. She tried not to glimpse the bodies laid in gutters. Her legs hurt. She was dull with hunger. She slowed and peered down an alleyway. It smelled of unwashed plates. The gloom looked like it would unfold over the country. She moved onwards. She crumpled beside a corner. Crow shadows sank from the sky. She shook with sobs. She felt her words inside her pushing and scratching to get out. She knew she had to keep them in. Through her tears, the buildings looked like the waves of a stone sea. She rubbed her eyes. She glimpsed light seeping from a window. It looked like blowing sand. She stood. She moved to a window and pressed her face to the glass. It was cold. Dim forms steadied into colours and lines. She saw book shelves. Her heart was fast. She stumbled alongside the wall. She heaved the door open, ran down the corridor and stepped inside a library. She ran her hands on book spines, hurrying through the titles. She remembered, as a child, her father telling her that libraries had many tiny feet and would scutter away if they weren’t wanted. She had paced their library and read out loud to keep it to stay. After her father had died and she’d gone to live with her Aunt, every library she stepped inside seemed like a piece that had broken away from her lost home.
She read. She was warmed by the books. Sometimes, she forgot she wasn’t in her old home. She found food. She buried herself in stories. The words inside her softened and stilled. She didn’t go near the high windows.
Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and can be summoned by a cake signal in the sky. Her best friend is a dog who can count. She’s been nominated for Best of the Net, and was a finalist in the first Wyvern Lit flash fiction contest. Her stories can also be read at Pigeonholes Magazine, Maudlin House, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere.