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Georgia Lee returned to her book, fanning the pages along the spine, as one would a deck of cards, feeling the gaps where pages had been torn out, like open wounds. She'd gone to the librarian after discovering the vandalism, outraged. There'd been only one another person who'd checked the book out before Georgia Lee, and she'd pointed to all the missing pages and demanded action, only to have been laughed at.

"You can thank Soaz for the missing pages," she'd been told.

"Suez?" It wasn't a name that was familiar to Georgia Lee. It certainly wasn't the one written neatly in the index card of the book, listing everyone who'd checked the book out. Some student who simply tore pages out of books without even getting the book out? It seemed so much worse, somehow.

"SoAZ. The State of Arizona. People donate these books, y'know, but when they're illustrated, sometimes it isn't appropriate for students. This one there were people in, ahh, a state of nature. Naked, y'know. But it's a beautiful book, very old, so we don't want to just throw it away. The pages get taken out, the book goes back onto the shelf, and..." The librarian had shrugged, seeming sheepish.

Georgia Lee hadn't been quite sure how to react to that. It was a beautiful book, but that seemed to her like all the more reason not to destroy it. Better, surely, for it to be elsewhere whole than in the library in pieces. She wondered what had happened to the pieces. Perhaps one of the janitors had found them. Perhaps they were holding them now, and they were right at this moment wishing for the book that they fit into.

Probably not, she decided.

Her focus went back to the page. It was yellowed and the font was small and delicate, making it hard to read, but at the moment she wanted to be distracted. She needed something to absorb her, to stop her from snapping at the tallest land mammal in the world.

"In the evening of the eighteenth day, we came across the city of the apes. Here the trees were packed more densely with the beasts than any London thoroughfare, and both my companion and myself and myself were quite taken aback at the many sets of eyes that we found alighting upon ourselves. Abasi, who by that time had taken the role of our chief guide, sensed our discomfort and set to put us at ease.

"Worry not, my friends. These creatures do not seek your harm. Theirs is the way of peace, and if you do not disturb them, they shall not disturb you."

We were heartened at this, and - "

A cackle, like a cartoon witch, interrupted Georgia Lee's reading. She looked up and yes, there she was. Fiyori Senay. A human praying mantis, but worse. At least with a praying mantis, when it bit your head off you first got to... no, that was vulgar. Georgia Lee dismissed the thought.

It seemed inappropriate that Fiyori could enter the library silently. There should have been thunder rolling, Georgia Lee thought. Birds dropping dead from the sky, wolves howling and babies screaming. Ride of the Valkyries playing, perhaps, or the evil song from Star Wars. Maybe her shrieking little laugh was Fiyori's way of letting everyone know they were in the presence of the devil. She was doing people a favour, perhaps. Georgia Lee tried to put the giant insect out of her mind.

Then she laughed again.

Georgia Lee looked up, and her eyes met Fiyori's compound ones, looking almost human behind her thick glasses. Georgia Lee blinked first, and hated herself for it. Why was Fiyori looking at her? Was it Georgia Lee that the other girl had been laughing at? She couldn't see what it was she was doing that would amuse the other girl. Perhaps for someone like that, the sight of someone actually studying was so novel that it provoked laughter. They said simple things pleased simple minds, after all, and Georgia Lee couldn't help but notice the complete absence of books in Fiyori's vicinity. But no, there were plenty of others reading in the room, so why it was her that Fiyori's gaze was fixed on her?

It was making Georgia Lee uncomfortable.

She closed the book, marking her page with a bookmark decorated with dancing puffins. Georgia Lee loved puffins. The book was precious to her, somehow, and the idea of having Fiyori coming and mocking it repelled her. She slipped it back into her bag, opening a physics textbook infront of her, instead. Another glance at Fiyori confirmed that yes, the other girl was still staring at her. Well, Georgia Lee would let her stare. Perhaps Fiyori might learn what actual study looked like.

Embracing her newfound role as rolemodel, Georgia Lee turned her thoughts to her study.

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The Library Is The Power House Of The Student · Beale Library