The public library is my favorite place to visit on days when it seems as if the rain will go on for weeks. On the top floor, where the periodicals are stacked and shelved, I am a silent page-flipper among other flippers. We cough and sniff and sigh and shuffle our feet across the carpet as the tin drilling of raindrops pings onto and off the roof. For an hour or two, we and the weather form a percussion section. The man at the table across from me takes a sneezing solo. A woman with tangly, forest-like hair controls the rhythmic scan and whoosh of the photocopier. We are without a conductor. The rain dictates our tempo — it beats quickly, evenly like the 32nd notes of a snare drum. For a moment it slows to a lazy pizzicato, but picks up again in sharp, metallic staccato notes.
I have had enough of our symphony, and I leave the periodicals to look out the vast wall of windows in the reading room. Water streaks the panes and flows in clear arteries across the glass. Thin streams converge into wider creaks and rivers. The flicker of a fluorescent light glares off of the window, pulsing a beat by which the water runs. No one else is in this room. I stand in front of the row of chairs that face outward, and I imagine I am on a ship, crossing a stormy sea. A sharp corner of the book in my bag gently nudges my thigh. It wants to be read in here, now. I'm forced to ignore it — I've been here too long already.
I walk out of the room (and walk back to retrieve the black umbrella I've just bought and nearly forgot), skip down the stairs, stare briefly at the new releases, exit into the rain and drive back to work.