The Sky Library
Lindora stared at the volumes of books before her. How to choose just one? Above her, the library ceiling disintegrated to a picture of the sky. Images of clouds bathed the spines of the books. She stepped back. Had the world changed? Or just the library? If she listened close, she could hear the conversation between her Aunt El and her Uncle Namor. She raised a hand to one of the books. Soft, warm sunlight nestled her hand.
Did she dare?
She opened the book. Wind swept through her hair. Something tugged at her. Thousands of light spears flashed around her. She reached out to touch one and saw her arm waver and then solidify like the rest of her body. The light disappeared. She glanced around her. Where was she? She stood in a meadow somewhere. With purple grass. Her mouth opened. How?
She took a step then another and found herself yanked back through to the library. Her Uncle Namor shook a finger at her and said, “You must never enter the light.”
Her mouth worked. “But I was just opening a book.”
“There is no such thing as just, child.” He gripped her shoulder and took the book from her hand. “It is too dangerous to play with.”
“But Uncle Namor. Books aren’t supposed to do that.”
“Do what? Run along and get your sandwich and milk. Your Aunt El likes everyone to be punctual.”
She continued to stare at him.
“Go on, go on.” He kept an eye on the ceiling as she left the room, her mouth hung open. You could no longer see the sky.
It was days before she found herself alone in the library again. She wondered if her aunt and uncle had devised so many projects for her to help with to discourage her from her curiosity. What was going on in the library? Was it some sort of door to another world like in the Narnia books? She must find out. She crept inside and closed the door. Within seconds, she touched the spines of the books. As before, a bright light shone down from the open sky above.
She nodded and picked a book to open. At once, she found herself on a hill looking down at a river below and a wagon train parked there. Did she dare? She made her way down the slope. Close enough, she peeked inside. A girl in pigtails sat there with a border collie inside. She smiled and said, “Hi.”
The girl stared at her. “Who are you? Where’d you come from? Why are you wearing such clothes?”
“I’m Lindor. From Ohio. And this is how we dress there.”
“What a strange name. And how’d you get from Ohio to here without a horse?”
Lindor smiled. “I traveled through my aunt and uncle’s library.”
The sound of horses clopping came.
“That’ll be my father. He was letting the horses drink. He’ll sure be surprised to find you.”
Lindor drew back. “Maybe he shouldn’t.”
“Your darn right, young lady, he shouldn’t.” Uncle Namor took hold of Lindor and they were back inside the library in a flash.
“But why couldn’t I stay, Uncle Namor?”
“You think folks aren’t going to find the things you do strange? Why you might’ve been thought a witch or some sort of nonsense. The price you pay for being able to step through the portal may be too much.” His finger bobbed as he spoke. “But—perhaps it’s time to train you.”
“Train? Oh, really?”
“It seems it’s necessary to keep you from mischief.” He nodded. “Be here tomorrow. Ten sharp.”
“Yes, Uncle Namor.”
At ten the next morning, she found her Aunt El waiting for her. She peered down at Lindor from behind her rather-large eyeglasses. “So. You’ve been investigating the portal?”
She kept her gaze down at the floor. “Yes, Ma’am.”
“Well, before curiosity gets you killed, you must learn the rules.”
Her Aunt considered her. “First, the portal is off-limits unless you are sent on a mission. Since Your Uncle Namor and I are getting up in the ages, we could use an assistant.”
“I’ll do my best.”
“Second, you only enter when the sky is blue. When it is dark, things could go wrong. The blue is a call to us and we answer it as such. Third, and final, never tell anyone there where you’re from.”
Lindor stared at her. “But won’t they guess with how I dress?”
Her Aunt swung around to the bookshelf. She frowned then selected a book. Each of these books will show you the appropriate clothing. You just reach in and snag the clothing and then you’re ready to go.”
“What if they speak a different language?”
“You pull that from these books here.”
“What’s our purpose?”
Her Aunt El smiled. “We do it for humanity’s sake. We are the guardians of the gateway. It has been in our family’s protection for many generations. We have never failed the call.”
“I’m not sure I won’t mess up, Aunt El.”
She put a hand to Lindor’s shoulder. “We all mess up, child. It’s the righting of things that we accomplish in our own way.”
The portal above turned blue. They shared a smile.
Just as quick, Lindor’s smile turned to a frown. “How do I know which books to choose?”
“Listen to the call. Can’t you hear it?”
A soft voice came through. “Help. Someone.”
The portal displayed the same girl in the wagon Lindor had visited.
“Go to her, child.”
Lindor made to go forward. Her aunt stopped her. “Clothes, hairstyle, and the words of the common man.”
Lindor searched for the books she needed. The clothes she opened the page to appeared on her person. Instantly, her hair took the style shown as well. Braids and ribbons. A simple prairie dress. And when she opened her mouth, the pioneer jargon filled her voice.
“Remember to be careful. Listen to the portal. It won’t be easy. But you will find your way. Now go.”