The paper was neatly folded on her nightstand.
Everly Atlas was getting ready for another day in the place that was sucking her soul away; the place she used to call home. It’s funny how something you love so much can turn around like that in a day, or in a moment.
Her brother Aldo had been trying to get her back into his office, but he was so far unsuccessful. She had such fond memories of that place, but it was now tainted by that memory that changed everything. That paper on her nightstand.
On her way to the Pillars Library she didn’t stop at the murmurs, she just kept walking until she met the familiar face of Adnis, the temporary librarian. Everly looked at her vacant gaze and wondered why they never got a constant one, why the biggest Library at the college wasn’t deserving of someone who cared about the books. After all, it was full of treasures and secrets, and were it to perish, the world would have lost the foremost collection on Secret Sciences.
Not that the world knew it existed. But Everly would definitely miss the books that had been her sweet escape during most of her life. Aldo never understood the need to escape, but boys were like that. Not much shook them.
“Miss Atlas!” Adnis shrieked. “Can I help you find anything?” Her voice was too shrill, too desperate. The voice of a kept rat.
“No thank you,” Everly said to nobody.
The woman wasn’t even there, for Triad’s sake.
As always, the library smelled of reassuring things – old books, the faint memory of night candles, and shuffling students. Everly automatically relaxed at the familiar smells, but then had to stop in her tracks, frustrated.
“What are you doing here!” she walked over to Aldo and whisper-yelled at him.
“Nice to see you, sister,” he said, pleasantly.
She frowned at him. Since their father passing, Aldo had lost some weight, probably out of grief. Or out of trying to get his affairs in check. His normally playful eyes had dimmed and his raven hair was clearly unkempt. Everly wondered why the handmaid wasn’t doing her job, but then again, it would be like her brother to let her go and withdraw from the world. Apparently, he was now ready to face it.
“You know I don’t like to be disturbed here,” she said.
“You don’t like to be disturbed anywhere! Bus, Ev, we need to talk about the will. You need to keep your end-”
“My end doesn’t exist,” Everly said, trying to shake him off. Unfortunately, he just kept following her deeper and deeper into the shelves, silent as a ghost. She couldn’t take it anymore, so she turned to face him. “Look, Aldo…”
He looked even more pathetic now, with his unkempt hair, sad eyes, and hands in his pockets. Like a little child. Even though he was a year older than Everly, she had always been the one to take care of things around the castle.
“You’ll have to take over from here. I don’t want to know what the damn will says or what our father wanted. I just want to be left alone.” She said it as fast as she could, so she wouldn’t lose her nerve. It was one thing to yell at Aldo for breaking her favorite toy, but it was quite another to take it out on him for something he didn’t know about. “You always wanted to take over, right? Now’s your chance.”
“No, it was always Dad’s intention that you took over.”
“I don’t want to,” Everly said, grabbing a book to steady herself. It was barely Aldo’s fault, and yet she couldn’t look at him without fuming.
“Ev…” he pleaded. She looked up.
It was those eyes, his eyes.
“You’ll be good for this place,” she lied. “Just take whatever he left for the both of us. I don’t want anything.”
Aldo’s face fell. “Okay… but can you help me with-”
“Look, I have to find something that’s hard to find, so let’s talk another time, all right? I’ll come and find you.”
She started leaving, but caught his last murmur.
“No, you won’t.”
In the distance, Everly heard the train approaching. It was another school year and the TA’s always arrived early, to help the teachers prepare. She sighed, the book in her hand growing heavier by the second.
The Curses of Prophecy was its title.