The tag scratched at the back of Jen’s neck, but she couldn’t scratch it. Her hands were full of books to be returned to the library, and they were heavier than she’d anticipated. Somehow, she’d made it from her house but even with the library chute in sight, she didn’t see how she could get there. She wanted to stop, to put the books down, to stretch her arms wide, but she pushed on.
A slightly sick feeling arose in her stomach and she tried to ignore it. The chute seemed to be getting bigger the closer she got. She sniffed and shook her head, and started moving the armful of books side to side, hoping this would give her greater momentum. It must only be fifteen more steps, she thought to herself. Fourteen, thirteen. She counted down, but when she reached one there were at least five more.Her chin wobbled and her arms shook. Finally, she reached it.
She put her knee against the wall and balanced the books, held with one hand, as she scanned the barcode to open the electronic flap. It took four goes but clicked open just as the pile of books threatened to overbalance. She pushed the flap open, but it wouldn’t open because of the huge pile of books wedged behind it.
Jen closed her eyes and tried to figure out what to do. Placing the pile of books on the concrete at her feet, she reached her arm in and tried to unwedge the obstruction. Nothing. She started to slide them down, one at a time.
Forty-five minutes later, covered in sweat, she forced the last book in and pulled the flap shut. Victorious, she started her walk home.