Alex wanted a copy of Charles Perrault’s fairy tales, specifically a translation into the English by Raymond Findley. The translation in a dark yellow cover. He sought a library; in the emptiness he found one, a library alone, a small, brick building with narrow, arched windows and green doors. It had a dusty, musty smell, of old books and new, newsprint and cigaret smoke. A small woman with short, dark hair stood sorting cards into some sort of machine.
“Erm,” said Alex. “Pardon me.”
“Yes?” said the librarian.
“I’m looking for a book,” he said. “By Charles Perrault.”
“The fairy tales?” said the librarian, whose name was Rachel, and smiled her face into lines. “I love those.”
“I want the Raymond Findley translation,” said Alex. “It had a yellow cover, I think.”
The woman pouted. “Let me check the catalogue.” She pulled out wooden drawers rapidly, flicked through miles of cards.
“Can’t you just use the computer?” said Alex.
“Oh, no,” said the woman distantly, from deep within the catalogue. “This library’s from 1975. There’s only these cards.”
Alex couldn’t see Rachel anymore; she’d disappeared into the records. He followed her, running the words of the stories through his mind.