Local Author | Waiting for the Rain
Special to the Tribune
It was the beginning of twilight and the street lamps of the village were just coming on. Early fall had brought thunder storms during the afternoon, leaving lawns and parks saturated, sidewalks drenched, and you could smell soaked grass and see the patterns made by golden-brown oak leaves still swirling in the pools of water upon the pavement. During the day, lightning illuminated a black sky and cracks of thunder made birds fly wildly from their trees, but now the rain had retreated, leaving in its place enormous white clouds tinged with red and purple like balloons at the summer carnival.
And if you were walking down the street, you’d feel in the air a stillness and know that this was the moment in time that is part today and part tomorrow. The time between day and night, between your waking and your dreams. The in-between time.
On such an evening, a young man named Robert Gardner found himself stepping between the water puddles on the sidewalk, savoring the sweet air and coolness, a lightness in his stride, even though he had not the slightest idea where he was or why he was in this place at this time. Yet he knew he’d been here many times before. The red brick homes he passed were covered with ivy, their lawns quilts of yellow and brown leaves which soon would become white as winter found its way to the village. It was so very familiar, this place. For now, it was enough that he was simply taking pleasure in the twilight stroll.
As he turned a corner he saw it, the ornate wooden building, much like a cobbler shop in a children’s’ nursery rhyme. Lights glowed warmly from its many windows. His curiosity took over since the structure was not a home and there were no shops along this residential lane. He felt drawn to this building, which he could only describe as ageless. Leaving the sidewalk, he took the cobblestone steps to the front door on which in small, neat lettering were the words Library. Hours: When you are ready. He swung open the door and stepped inside.
“So glad you finally made it, Robert. I’ve been waiting for you a long while. Knew it was just a matter of time, though. Takes longer for some than others. Anyway, delighted you’re here now,” said a man who looked as though he’d just stepped out of a Dickens novel. “My name’s Carrington. I’m the Curator, keeper of the books, as they say.” He extended his hand.
“I’m Robert. But how did you know. . .”
“Yes, well, never mind that for now.” They shook hands.
“May I show you around a bit?” said Carrington, gesturing to the outlying rooms and stacks.
“That’s kind of you. Your library is lovely; it looks fairly straightforward.”
“Oh, my dear boy, you would be surprised.”
“Then lead on, sir,” said Robert. Robert followed Carrington through the main reading room, past the rows of polished wooden tables with their lamps and green shades, back though other rooms, past more and more stacks of books, then still more reading areas, each larger than the one before it. This building seems a lot bigger on the inside than you’d think from the outside, thought Robert. It felt as though they walked for hours, days. He thought it strange not to see clocks on any of the walls.
“Ah, here we are,” said Carrington, stopping before the open door to a vast area which to Robert’s way of thinking stretched on forever, no rear, side walls, or ceiling in sight. And books in perfect rows on shelves of the stacks as far and as high as he could see. The word infinite came immediately to his mind. Carrington gave Robert a moment to let the sight fully register.
“I think this will be the most interesting area to you. I believe you said you were a writer, correct?” He peered at Robert from under his wire glass frames.
“Actually, I never said. But yes.”
“Oh, sorry. Anyway, what kind of books are you drawn to, if you know what I mean.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” said Robert. “Even as a small child, I was drawn to mysticism. By the way, ‘drawn’ is an excellent word, Mr. Carrington.”
“Well, I spend a lot of time surrounded by words. ”
Carrington motioned Robert to pass through the doorway and enter the area, then followed him, and the two men began walking. “It is here in this room that you will find what you are looking for,” said Carrington. Robert asked if he might remove a book or two from the shelves as they went along.
“Of course you may.”
As Robert stopped in front of shelves at random, he’d pull down a book, thumb through it, read the first several pages, and was enthralled by every single book which he scanned. They walked for a long while, and Robert perused many books, more than he could count. The myriad books he looked at were the most enchanting he’d ever seen in his life, and he didn’t understand how he could possibly have missed them since he’d always been a voracious reader. He told this to Carrington who smiled.
“Of course you have never read these books,” said Carrington.
Carrington took a long moment, then turned to face Robert.
“Because they have not yet been written.”
Robert was stunned. Then he remembered the droll humor of the British. “Okay, Carrington, you got me!”
Carrington’s expression did not change. “Robert, open a book, any of these books, at random.” Robert did so.
“Now turn to its title page. What do you see?” Robert turned to the title page and studied it.
“Well, the title of the book.”
“What else do you see?”
Robert again studied the title page, this time more carefully. “There’s no author name, just the title,” he said. In rapid succession, Robert began pulling books from the shelves. In all of them, the title page contained only a title but no name of an author.
“I don’t understand,” said Robert.
“Robert, when I said earlier this evening that I was the Curator, I meant the Curator of books yet to be written.”
Robert felt the room begin to swirl. This doesn’t make sense.
“I heard that thought, Robert, and yes it makes perfect sense.”
“But these books are written, Mr. Carrington.”
“No, Robert. These books are waiting to be written. They are still here in this special place with me. Their authors are just not yet ready to put them down on a page.”
Robert selected a book from one of the higher shelves and opened it, began to read. Without being aware how much time had passed, he found himself sitting in a chair by the bookcase and completing the last page. How wonderfully written this is, he thought. He turned back to the title page to read the title of the novel: Waiting for the Rain.
“This is the sort of book I’ve always wanted to write,” he said.
“Well, actually it is you who will write this book,” said Carrington, placing his own hands upon its cover. “When the time comes-when you are ready-you will do it.”
Carrington pulled a paper from his vest pocket and checked some notes. “Time to be getting back,” he said, and Robert heard a ringing in the background, a steady bell, becoming annoyingly louder and louder, and he felt the room slip away beneath his feet and saw below him the little village and lightning illuminating a black sky and birds flying wildly from their trees and white clouds tinged with red and purple like balloons at the summer carnival and heard the sounds of the carnival, where the band played louder and louder until it became a steady ringing. And he awoke with a start, sat up in his bed, turned off the ringing of the alarm clock. He continued to sit and take stock. Still between two worlds. The in-between time. Was I dreaming? Of course I was dreaming. But what did I dream? To where did I travel? Coffee can wait.
He picked up a pad and a pen from his bedside table and wrote a title: “Waiting for the Rain.”
Then he began to write his book.