They said she’d lost her looks, she’d gone to the dogs, that
her braid wasn’t what it used to be, or her eyes. Maybe she
was pregnant, she moved more slowly now, she wasn’t so
brisk when she brought you your meal. They said various
things. Someone supposedly even overheard her say to him,
You promised. To which he answered, We’ll do it. You just
have to understand. She says, What do I have to
understand? I’m not as dumb as you think I am. Just
because I work in a cafeteria? And she burst into tears.
The librarian, though, she was easy on her, she was an older
woman and she’d probably been through a lot herself. Even
after it was time to close up the library she’d keep it open if
it was raining outside and the other woman was still sitting
over her book. She’d tidy the books on the shelves, replace
torn slip covers, catalogue new items.
Sometimes though, despite the rain she’d suddenly give
back her book and leave as if something had agitated her,
and at most the librarian would say to her:
“It’s good you have an umbrella, Miss Basia.”
She’d apologize to the librarian, explain that she’d just
remembered she had something urgent to do.
“Never mind, never mind, Miss Basia. I understand, it
happens. I’ll just put a bookmark at your page. I’ll leave the
book over here, it’ll be waiting for you.”