steam

The library, at this point in time has settled on mostly being empty. That tends to be the case around this time of the year and I’m not all that surprised. The heating system doesn’t fully work and some areas are just colder than others. At this point, I assume that the heating works mostly fine but that the windows aren’t sealed properly and they’re letting in drafts. People have complained about the poor heating quality of the place and I can only tell them what I’ve told them for years. The cold-season returning visitors know this but the new visitors need to be told again and again.

We’re doing what we can but we have no control over the building itself, the heat is on and its doing all it can to keep the place warm but for one, there’s not enough heaters for the whole place and for two, with what I’m certain are the windows not being sealed properly, there are drafts and it’s even colder in here than usual.

If it weren’t for the fact that I do need money for food and clothes and eventually gifts—that one leaves me feeling so giddy, it’s been years since I’ve had gifts to offer—I would simply tell Eoghan that the library just can’t be kept open. I’ve already asked him to have someone come around to turn the water off, if we need to use the bathroom, we do so at home before we leave and if it’s absolutely necessary to go during the day, we step over to the small café, they’re understanding enough of our situation. If we keep the water on, I get the feeling that the pipes might just freeze and burst, we can’t have that. This place is falling apart even faster now and I don’t know how I’ll handle it until Eoghan has the old church fixed up right and proper and all of the books moved.

The twins stepped out about five minutes ago, bundled up to their throat. We’ve only really taken off our heavier coats while we’re inside, we still all wear our scarves and gloves and a thick long-sleeved shirt to get around, the air is chilly but not bitingly cold and there is a heater almost directly behind the front desk, it helps.

As Cyrille steps back up with the desk, empty-handed now that he’s done putting books back where they belong, the twins step back inside. Agni is carrying a tray with four steaming cup and I feel a sort of relief find me at the thought of sipping on something hope. Mira has himself a small bag and I assume that those might just be pastries.

The owners of the coffee shop next door have been around for a while and they know how poorly things tend to go in this building once the season cools down and they’re always more than willing to drop off with a hot cup of tea and some pastries. At least, they used to. Now with the twins or Cyrille heading over every afternoon, almost like clockwork, they don’t really need to.

Agni hands out the cups of steaming tea about and I curl my fingers about mine, letting its heat bring warmth to my fingers. Gloves or not, it’s uncomfortable to be in this place and the fingers are usually the first ones to really suffer. Mira digs through the bag and sets out four identical pastries on the counter, each with its own little paper to keep the old wood from the desk safe from stains.

“I don’t think we’ll be seeing anyone this afternoon, I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to be getting some snow in an hour or so. It should warm the temperature up a bit and make this place a bit more manageable but for now, we’re all pretty much frozen stiff. I vote we set up the panel on the door in case someone comes by and we head on home, anyone have any objections?”

Cyrille shakes his head as he looks around the desk, I nod at his unspoken question when his eyes land on me. “All the books have been put away, everything is in its place, there are no books coming in until New Year, I told Eoghan I’d refrain from ordering new books until then since I didn’t want to have more stuff to pack up than there already is. He said he wouldn’t have minded but he’s already doing so much for this place that I don’t want to add more to his work load.”

The twins each shrug in turn, Agni busy stuffing the pastry into his mouth with big bites and Mira watching his brother pig himself out from behind the steam of his cup, his lips quirked into an amused sort of smile. “I don’t mind heading home, we’d planned on heading out after work to go and buy a few things, early decorations and all and I guess we could do it now while it’s still mostly clear out and before the storm hits us.”

Agni, licking his fingers clean nods and Cyrille chuckles softly before he nods as well. “I don’t mind doing that, I know just where to go, you guys get to pick what you want and we’ll find means of getting it to fit in the car, if it doesn’t we’ll see about getting it delivered. I want these holidays to be the way you two want it.”

“It has some of you in there too!” Mira’s softly indignant tone makes me smile. I shake my head, these three are adorable together and I know they’re good for one another, it’s nice to see them all stick close together, the way family should. I know Cyrille has siblings, I’ve spoken to him before I ever met the twins, he didn’t open up much then and I know he probably wouldn’t tell me much more now but I’ve always noticed him spending a lot more time at the library during the holiday seasons than any other time, it’s a little sad.

“No pastries in the car though, at least not being eaten, so if any of you, Agni excluded because he’s an adorable little piglet who’s already eaten his, want to eat that pastry, better do it now before we head off.” Agni shoots Cyrille a look, sticking his tongue out moments later.

“I’ll drop mine back in the bag and I’ll keep to my tea for now.” I feel as though the pastry might do better warmed up a little, I like them when they’re just warm enough that they get a little gooey, as though they might be freshly baked and just moments ago plucked from the baking sheet.

Mira and Cyrille both eat their pastries, taking their times to actually appreciate its taste and before long, we all have our coats on and we’re all inside Cyrille’s cold but warming up vehicle. There’s the sign on the door, said door is locked, the windows are as closed as they’ll ever be and that’s that. I think the only window that doesn’t have itself a draft going on is the one that was replaced by Eoghan’s working crew when whoever it had been had broken into the library and caused that huge mess. It’s sad really.

The kids drop me off at the apartment, I step up to the door and I wave them off before I step inside, feeling the warmth of the building as a whole already ease into my skin and my bones. It’s so nice to be able to come home to a place that offers warmth and comfort this way.

As I step inside my apartment, I look around the wide open area of the living room and I tell myself that maybe I’ll ask Eoghan if he might not mind driving me about while I pick up a few small bits and decorations for the holidays. I’ve never really celebrated, at least not until Andoni had come into my life and since he’s been gone, I’ve gone back to not celebrating. I know it’s not really the way to go about my life and I guess I’m due for a change.

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