George’s Independence Day
instant coffee from a vending machine
George sensed everyone was watching him. He risked a glance around the room. A middle-aged man, in front of him, struggled with an automated checkout device. To his left, a young woman tapped on a keyboard. Other library users were selecting books; reading newspapers or magazines. He shook his head. No one displayed any interest in him after all.
He’d been going there for as long as he could remember. Once a month, on his way home from junior school, he’d run into the building; grab a Just William, Famous Five, or something about football. During his teenage years it became Haynes car manuals or vinyl LPs to record on cassette.
George gained more confidence, propelled his wheelchair towards crime fiction. Pride prevented him asking for assistance, but he was lucky. The latest Peter Robinson was at waist height. Balancing the detective novel on his knees, he also spotted a Rankin he hadn’t read before.
He remembered the abundance of reference books upstairs. Conscious of the new open staircase and original stone steps confronting him, he wondered if there was a lift for service users. He mustered enough courage to ask an assistant, smiled at her positive reply.
He looked forward to browsing through pages of art, local history and music. Earlier, his wife had wheeled him to the disabled entrance. At his insistence, when the door slid open, she left him there. It was his first visit alone since being diagnosed with a chronic illness. Yes this was his day for being independent. George was grateful that his beloved library was user-friendly for everyone. A few years ago it hadn’t even crossed his mind.
About the author
Alan has been writing short stories for ten years. In 2011 he made the short list for one story and a prize winner for flash fiction. He also won first prize, of £100, in a poetry competition in 2013. The three accolades were awarded by the best-selling UK magazine for writers. His work has been read out on Internet radio and published in hard copy magazines and e-zines.