Star walked a few steps behind Elise through the high bookshelves, following along and watching her carefully. She heard a meek voice behind her.
“Excuse me, Miss.”
She turned to see a man holding an old book. His shoulders were slumped. He looked to be about thirty.
“Yes, can I help you?” Star answered.
The man looked a little startled.
Elise turned with a curious lift of her eyebrow and stood back to watch. Her eyes were focused on that book clutched in his arms.
The man continued, “I’m so glad I’ve finally found someone who can help.” He said, cradling the book like a cherished heirloom.
“Of course, ” Star replied, trying to keep her voice calm and reassuring. “What can I do for you?”
The man hesitantly held the book out. It was an old title, but it looked well cared for, as though it hadn’t circulated many times. “I need to return this book, ” he admitted in a stressed tone. “It’s twenty-two years overdue. I’m so sorry,” he stammered.
Star smiled and reached for the book carefully. “I completely understand,” she said in that same caring tone. “We know these things happen. Don’t worry at all. We’re glad you got it back to us.”
The man looked relieved. His shoulders straightened, and the stress seemed to lift. “Oh, thank you, Ma’am. You’re so kind.”
Star just smiled again and nodded. “It’s not a problem at all. If you need anything else, you just let me know.”
The man thanked her a few more times before turning down an aisle and fading out of sight.
Elise gave her a searching look. “Was that one of them?” She asked incredulously.
Star nodded, looking down at the book. “It was. He was returning this book. It’s twenty-two years old.”
Elise looked shocked. “Well, better late than never, I suppose. It is in great condition,” she said, taking it from Star. “We will put it back in the system.”
Star followed behind her again. “Imagine dying and hanging around twenty years just to return a book,” she remarked.
“It’s a bit extreme,” Star agreed.
Elise shrugged. “So, what is it like being able to see ghosts?” she asked casually.
Star shrugged. “Always interesting, I guess.”