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The Midnight Library
by Matt Haig
A Conversation About Rain
Nineteen years before she decided to die, Nora Seed sat in the warmth of the small library at Hazeldene School in the town of Bedford. She sat at a low table staring at a chess board.
‘Nora dear, it’s natural to worry about your future,’ said the librarian, Mrs Elm, her eyes twinkling.
Mrs Elm made her first move. A knight hopping over the neat row of white pawns. ‘Of course, you’re going to be worried about the exams. But you could be anything you want to be, Nora. Think of all that possibility. It’s exciting.’
‘Yes. I suppose it is.’
‘A whole life in front of you.’
‘A whole life.’
‘You could do anything, live anywhere. Somewhere a bit less cold and wet.’
Nora pushed a pawn forward two spaces.
It was hard not to compare Mrs Elm to her mother, who treated Nora like a mistake in need of correction. For instance, when she was a baby her mother had been so worried Nora’s left ear stuck out more than her right that she’d used sticky tape to address the situation, then disguised it beneath a woollen bonnet.
190 words read…
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