My thoughts filled with the Keeper. Only them. “But what about them?”
The boy still didn’t look at me, but as he wiped his face with his sleeve I knew the answer. Why we couldn’t go together. Why no one could go anymore.
The Keeper had closed the way. No one to get in or out. Not even them.
I wondered if they were still playing their pocket pet, or if it was already too late. The Librarian’s avoidance seemed to be my memory causing me direct pain. Of course it was. If it wasn’t…
No, if the Keeper closed the way, there would be nothing the Librarian could do. This I was certain of. He wouldn’t have let them do that. All I could imagine was that it happened while the Official was there, because he would have stopped them otherwise. With the Official there… a death sentence, not only for the Keeper, but for everyone. For the library. For the tomes that the Keeper sealed.
“What took you so long?” The Keeper spoke with impatience. I never used to hear that from them, but now it had become more common.
“I had school.”
With those words, I felt freer. Free, trapped within this place. I tried to hide those feelings, because I knew how the Keeper would feel about them. But here, I could say anything and it would be all right.
The Keeper would always be able to say what they wanted, because of this place. The corner of their lips twitched down, then up. They folded their arms in front of their chest. “Oh, right. It’s Monday, isn’t it?”
“Tuesday,” I corrected. “We didn’t have school yesterday.”
“I miss school.”
I wasn’t surprised. I did think it better to change subject.
He bowed his head as he lit the candles. There was a particular order to it, one he had been instructed on since birth. Even when tired, he could not make a mistake. Even when tired, it was impossible for him to do so, it was the only way.
“Why?” asked his sister, who couldn’t hold anything in her head, hadn’t been able to for ten years.
“We must do our job consistently, for we have chained Time here,” he told her.
“Because if released, Time would slay the Gods.” He continued before she could ask. “Time slays everything, eventually. You and me as well. Mother and Father.”
“Time is imprisoned for crime then?”
That was the simple explanation. He smiled as she lit the last candle. “Yes. Yes, that’s it.”