Second attempt at flash fiction in this challenge… the prompt was:
“the smoke hung so thick in the library’s rafters that she could read words in it”
Chloe lay on her back on the smooth wooden floor surrounded by the smell of old books and woodsmoke, she thought, not for the first time that the old library was the best place in the world. This time was different though, this time the peace of the place was somewhat marred by a distant buzz of people. People rushing, people stomping and quite possibly people yelling although that seemed quieter than she would expect.
She lay calm in the midst of the commotion looking up past the mezzanine levels filled with leather bound tomes to the ceiling where the oak beams showed the buildings skeleton. The smoke hung so thick in the library’s rafters she could read words in it, which struck Chloe as strange, so strange in fact that she couldn’t understand why no one around her was remarking on it. Smoke was not usually particularly literate, maybe it was a particular feature of library smoke that none knew about until now.
Words were rising within the smoke and floating away through the stacks, words such as “freedom”, “peace”, “adventure”, and “please, now is the time”
At this last set of words, this odd imploring phrase, Chloe decided to follow these vaporous messages which seemed to be just for her. She got to her feet and set off between the shelves. With an experimental finger she prodded the words which dissipated around her like the smoke they were, with new ones forming a few meres ahead. When, at last, she was led to the door of the library, she burst through into a cacophony of light and sound.
Blaring sirens and blinding spotlights coming at her from all angles. She felt very alone, and wistful for the peace of the library floor, when a news headline cut through the chaos:
“Woman found dead in library fire, student Chloe Philips (22) died of smoke inhalation”