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The Librarian's Dilemma - Flash Fiction - Mar 2024

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Flash Fiction First Friday is an effort to publish something small and fun on the First Friday of every month. The goal is simply to write more and to share more, and not get completely bogged down in huge projects. These pieces can spawn from writing exercises, prompts, or just freewriting. I'd love to see your flash fictions pieces if you participate, too! Either use the tag #flashfictionfirstfriday or comment below with a link to your blog. 


This fun little piece was written in the style of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. It was a part of a Halloween writing workshop. The prompt I got was: 3 drops of blood on a frozen pond, a black velvet ribbon, and an old library

The Librarian's Dilemma

There was an old book on one of the back shelves in the library. One of the high-up shelves that the geriatric janitor didn’t bother with anymore. It was too much trouble, and no one had checked out those books in years anyways.

“Perhaps it was just an old, forgotten diary. Why else would it be tied shut with a black velvet ribbon?” thought the janitor.

But the library records held the truth. The old ledgers knew exactly how long it had been since the delicate bow had been untied and that creased leather cover lifted. Sixty years since it that little girl had last turned the book in.

The librarian had always had a bad feeling about that girl. Something sinister about her flat, black eyes. And that book had been there each time, had been a part of it all.

But that had all happened so long ago. The boys that had drowned had been gone so long, their old classmates had children of their own by now. All three of them were forgotten, nothing more than the memory of a few drops of blood on the frozen pond on the grounds.

The librarian, now matronly and gray, was the only one who also remembered that the mysterious book had been returned each time. That girl, her dark eyes pretending at innocence, would come in to return the book in the morning after each tragedy. The librarian had taken the book in without thinking about it much at first. She’d remembered seeing it on the back shelves, after all. It was only after the library had closed after the first drowning that she realized the book had never been in their catalog to begin with, and had certainly never been checked out.

After the second boy disappeared under the ice, the librarian made the connection. She hid the book away on a higher shelf, out of sight and behind the locked glass cases, where the little girl wouldn’t be able to get it.

Despite the librarian catching on, it happened a third time. The girl returned the book, and the next day’s newspapers were full of tragedy. A third drop of blood on the ice.

The librarian took the book home. Hid it under the floorboards where she used to keep her gin. She even pulled the heavy chest of drawers on top of the hiding spot. No one else would die on her watch.

The little girl was back the very next day, black book in hand.

What else could the librarian do? She’d tried hiding it. Locked glass panels had not been enough to keep the book away from the girl.

Anyone else in her shoes might have thought the next step obvious. But the librarian could not bring herself to damage the book. The thought of burning any book was an act her soul couldn’t bear. She couldn’t even force herself to consider it.

But she couldn’t allow another child to fall victim to this girl and whatever dark curse surrounded her.

So instead of the book, the librarian made the girl disappear.

The cycle seemed to have ended. But that book was still back there somewhere, on an old dusty shelf waiting for someone to get curious.


Copyright KR Holton, 2024


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