The boy returns a stack of books. Oblivious to the librarian’s scowl, his mom walks out the door without a hug or word, her new phone more interesting than her son.
“No lunch money again?” the librarian asks.
He nods. “Said she needs it.”
“I’ll feed ya.”
The librarian checks the hardcovers, and finds a lock of hair tucked between pages.
“It’s Mom’s,” the boy says as she looks up. “Do we still have a deal?”
She hesitates, then grasps the hair. “You sure?”
“I am. Are you?”
She nods. “I’ll get the book.”
She returns from antiquities pushing a cart into the backroom. Nervously pretending to read until they share hot cups of ramen, no one is looking when the boy scissor snips a tuft of his hair.
The room is empty when the librarian cuts a length of hers.
A burner in the backroom heats an iron pot. Scorched hair within is ground to ink.
Latin oaths are sworn, read aloud from photocopied pages. Then woman and child alike dip quills into the mixture, and write errata in the Book of Fate.
The world, changes.
She winces and kneels, a long-healed C-section scar ripping across her waist. He props her up, features shifting to resemble the librarian’s countenance.
Clumsy grasps become embraces.
A woman holding her son.
A boy hugging the mother he deserves.
Copyright © 2019 by Jason H. Abbott, All Rights Reserved.
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