The Library is situated on the landing. It took six men to get it into position on September 13th last year. My uncle had bought the phone box for me at an auction, thinking I’d like it for the yard, but it was too handsome to leave outside, and I’d always wanted my own little library.
I found Lou, the carpenter, on findmeatradesman.com. He sawed and sweated while I project managed. He had big clean hands, a long spine, sapphire blue eyes, and an odour of fresh sawdust and frisky pheromones.
It was a ridiculously hot summer and we were three days in close confinement in the box. On day three he installed the speakers and tried them out with Marvin Gaye’s, Let’s Get It On, and we did. I was on tip-toes re-measuring the depth of the top shelf when the propagation took place.
Anyway, Lou’s out of the picture now because he’s got a wife and three children that he loves and adores. When he left, I offered him Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, because I had two copies, but he said his wife had bought him that book for their first anniversary years ago, and he hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet.
Trimesters and Semesters.
The first three months of my pregnancy were extremely stressful and exhausting. I was all over the place. All the books I ordered from Amazon were too deep for the shelves: The Pregnancy Bible, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, How to Grow a Baby and Push it Out, Truly Happy Babyand so many more. I returned them all except for the Pregnancy Bible. I needed to show willing. I used the RS-PRO-T 105mm blade in my jigsaw to take a centimetre off the book so it would fit the shelf. Of course, all the sentence ends are missing and the book has a rough edge, but you wouldn’t know that unless you wanted to read it, which I didn’t. My fluctuating hormones at that time made me forget myself. You see the shelves are 15cm deep and 80cm long. Obviously, if a book protrudes over the edge, chaos ensues. It’s the same as when something sticks out slightly from a closed drawer, like the tiniest corner of a piece of paper, or the toe of a sock, and you can’t function mentally until it’s put right.
A short time after I’d finished stocking the shelves, a tsunami of anxiety crashed in on me. I should have told you that there are three walls in my library, and each wall houses seven shelves made from Padauk wood. The left wall is Head and Heart books, the centre wall: Novels and Short Stories, and the final wall: Odd Books. With an average spine width of 16.5mm per book, my library can hold around 777 paperbacks. There is a fold out seat attached to the door, which was the idea of the father of my baby.
Picking up where I left off about the life crisis, here’s what happened. First semester books arrived: Balzac, Hartley, Ishiguro, Flaubert, Chaucer, and Kyd. The Spanish Tragedy was 9mm taller than I’d anticipated, so I donated The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD (which my uncle also bought me) from the Head and Heart section to MIND and squeezed Kyd’sTragedyat the bottom where the incongruence in book height cannot be seen from a standing position. All the rest found positions on shelf six of the Odd Books section. I thought things were going well. I still wasn’t showing, I was over half way through Of Mice and Men in preparation for my overdue educational stint, the course books were housed, and my counsellor continued with the acceptance, unconditional love, and congruency. I didn’t mention the other life inside me. Then, the uni sent this list of another eight books to buy! It dawned on me,as I was polishing the glass of my library door, that I was not prepared for such a violent influx of newness. I panicked. I wanted to do this degree. I donated Feeling Good, Simple Abundance, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and The Spiritual Rhythms in Adult Life to Oxfam and released 8cms of shelf space in the Head and Heart section.
I don’t want to talk about the second trimester because it was a time of confusion. People started thinking I’d put on weight. They talked about me; I know it. I could tell their sideway glances would manifest in lunchtime gossip. I cried over Emma Bovary’s indifference toward her baby, at butler Stephens’ unspoken love for Miss Kenton in Remains of the Day,and slept not a wink on discovering Ted’s suicide in The Go-Between. I considered it myself. I researched Painless Suicide, Adoption, Late Abortion, and Phone Boxes for Sale.
It’s the start of a new term, a new year, a new life, lives. Lou came back from Mars and fitted out the second phone box I’d found on eBay. He congratulated me on my baby. Remarked on his pale blue eyes. He’s got his father’s eyes, I said, watching him as he snapped the lid down on his toolbox. He said he was glad those baby days were over for him. Good luck with everything he said, squeezing past the pushchair in the narrow hall as I rocked my baby in my arms, comforted by the remains of that day twelve months ago.