emily_icon.gif iris_icon.gif

Scene Title Bookslides
Synopsis Iris offers assistance to Emily, who can't decide on just what she wants from the library.
Date December 29, 2018

Brooklyn Public Library

Running a hand down the side of her face, Emily Epstein stares down the rows of books before her, a defeated air about her. It wasn't that she lacked things to be looking for here in the library today, just that narrowing down one thing over another was surprisingly difficult. On some level, she's not sure some of the topics she's interested in investigating should be touched at all. But, even for the damage it's both caused and mitigated, her curiosity might not let her off the hook. Digging deeper is almost an inevitability.

Her hands fidget before her, fingers poked out of the sleeves of the teal-and-floral sweater she's wearing. Weight shifts inside dark leather boots before she smooths her hair back away from her face, looking across the library with a thousand-yard stare. There's always just finding something to read for pleasure. she reminds herself, as futile a thought as that may be right now.

"That's a good one!"

A finger suddenly juts into Emily's periphery, pointing at one of the books in front of her rather squarely. The voice brims with a certain amount of energy, the source clearly enthused to be sharing the thought she just has.

Really, Iris had been standing there for a few moments now, curiously watching the other woman as she looked across the shelves. She should be looking for a good opportunity to reshelve some of the books she has in her arm. Instead, she's been watching with wide eyes, wondering what Emily would pick out.

At least, until she got tired of waiting and offered her unsolicited thoughts. "And that one too!" Her fingers drifts up to the next row, one over. With a side smile, she adjusts the red tie that slips into her beige vest and nods, confident in her remarks, and not acknowledging at all the lack of context at hand.

Being startled out of her skin wasn't on the agenda today, but it so rarely is. Emily's hand flies to her chest as she turns abruptly to note the woman beside her, not having thought she was still there. A look of abject confusion reigns for a moment, wondering what in the world she's talking about, until the second book is pointed out and she can see more clearly what's being pointed at. Oh. Her shoulders slope, almost relieved when she catches up on the fact she's being given recommendations.

"Really?" she asks, feigning and failing to be just as interested in the shelves as the woman beside her. Emily almost considers pulling the title off the shelf, but draws her hand back at the last moment. "Actually — I was looking for anything on cryptography," she explains, almost apologizing. "I know it's not exactly a common subject, but…" She looks to Iris fully for the first time, taking stock of her appearance. She pauses, waiting to see if the excitable apparent librarian has any recommendations there.

"Cryptography?" Iris's head tilts the side slightly, a distant look appearing in her eyes. "That's- codes and code breaking, right?" She nods twice, looking thoughtful. "Are you looking for how to, history of, methods…?" She blinks twice, before smiling.

"We have a few!" Hands clap together as she begins moving down the aisle. "You're right it's not a common subject. I haven't read a lot on it myself - which maybe I should fix now - but I know where we keep them, at least." Reaching a hand into her pocket, she pulls out a fan of papers, all of which have numerous scribbles and scrawlings. She shakes a piece once, making it rigid, and then proceeds to write something on it before slipping it back into her pocket.

"Wow, actually, I can't remember the last time I led someone over towards this part of the library. Not a lot of people into stuff like this these days - more fiction and escapism and fun, and I mean who doesn't love fun but really you'd think after everything that happened here in the States people would want to! I mean, particularly with-"

She stops when she realises she hasn't taken a breath, and then looks back at Emily apologetically.

Emily's in the process of trying to respond, but Iris is carrying on just as enthusiastically as before. If it didn't seem like she would be so helpful, she might feel a little more bowled over. After she writes down the subject and takes off, Emily hesitates for only a moment before following after. "'How to', mostly," she finally clarifies while they walk. "I picked up an introductory book before after a … friend decided to start writing messages in code. Each time she's using a different kind of code, and I need to learn about others."

When Iris lights up again, Emily pauses herself, surprised. The stereotype of the quiet, marmish librarian was being blown out of the water here. When she finally pauses for breath and looks back at the younger woman, though, she's smiling. There's something refreshing about her commentary, as on the nose as it is.

"Easy," she cautions with a smirk, "I hear if your tongue gets tied, it's particularly hard to undo."

"What? Oh!" Iris sort of shrinks a bit, her smile widening. "Sorry! I guess I started rambling again…" Still, that doesn't deter her from pressing on into the nonfiction setting. "We have some introductory level books, definitely! Intermediate maybe, but if you're looking for specific information I don't think I can help you as much, but you never know!" Iris pulls one book off the shelf - Cryptography: Theory and Practice, and draws two fingers in the air over it, causing it to flip open. "I think this is one of the better ones we have. It's more technical, really gets into the nitty gritty of how cryptography works on a mathematical level."

Pages flip with another motion of her hand, eyes drifting up to the rack. "That one, Understanding Cryptography is kind of like a textbook! Hard to learn from just reading it, but if you can figure it out, I mean, you'll probably be fine right? Right!"

Iris pause, looking curious. "What caused an interest in Cryptography? Unless you and your friend and just learning it for fun. That's the best reason, honestly."

Emily blinks. She's not sure if she can trust her eyes, so she blinks again as the book appears to open on its own with just a wave of the hand from Iris. Listening takes a backburner to admiring whatever her ability is, wondering precisely what it is. Telekinesis? is an obvious starting point. No, more like… She recalls how stiff the single sheet of paper she'd written on had been, without anything beneath it to steady it. Paper? She manipulates paper?

She might find that hard to believe, if she weren't going through all this effort to help Squeaks communicate with a woman who manipulated, or was able to turn into, ink.

"You're really open with that, aren't you?" Emily asks before she can help herself, her tone reserved but still curious as she reaches for the prescribed text. She glances down at the spine, spares a moment for the back cover, and then looks back to Iris. "What you can do," she clarifies, gesturing with the book.

"It's very cool. Like something out of Harry Potter. Took me off guard there for a second." she finally smiles, however brief, before she looks back down at the book in her hand. "I, uh— she's pretty shy about being open with things. Just trying to be a supportive friend. If this is how she wants to talk, not really got a choice. Have to figure this bullshit out, even if it's by hand, until she's back to normal." Her voice tapers off into a mutter by the end.

As Emily has her moment of wonderment, Iris has scarcely stopped talking, and has started to venture off topic somewhat. "You know, cryptography is sorely under appreciated as a narrative tool in fiction," she suddenly interjects into whatever her previous thought had been. "I mean, presenting a code, making the reader feel rewarded for figuring it out before a big reveal! Gosh, I've only ever once read a book that went that route, and it was so neat!" A beat of a pause. "I should read that book again…"

When Emily speaks up again Iris stops, blinks, and looks over to her. "Huh?" She seems genuinely confused for a moment. Open about what? Her books? Understanding comes with continued listening - something she's not always good at - and very quickly Iris is beaming a smile at Emily. She reaches into the pocket of her vest and pulls out a wrinkled piece of paper that's clearly been stuffed in there for far too long. Her hand runs over it, smoothing it out.

"Of course I am," she says a bit more quietly. "That's part of why I'm here," she remarks, playing up her British accent for a moment, "and not back home." The paper is folded, clasped in hand, and when Iris opens her hands once more the sheet has folded into an origami flower, which she offers up to Emily with her smile widening just a bit. "Thank you, though!"

And with that, she turns back to the shelf "Well! Sounds like a code buddy or something! I can't say blame you for wanting to get into it, then." The more questionable details - only being able to communicate in code, the mention of getting back to normal, are seemingly lost on Iris. "I definitely think I can help you find something to make it easier. I don't know about easier to read," she adds with a laugh, "but easier to do, sure!"

There's a flicker in Emily's expression as the paper is produced, finding some kind of validation in having guessed correctly. It turns quickly again to wonder as the paper is reproduced in the shape of a flower. She takes it very carefully, the look in her eyes dimming slightly as she reads into what Iris is saying. "Well, they don't know what they've lost." she decides, turning the origami over in her hand.

I've got to find an excuse to bring Squeaks down here. she thinks to herself, knowing the two curious chatterboxes would definitely get along. Even with the age differential, Emily had a feeling their love of books would make them comrades in arms. Laying the flower down on top of the book as she adjusts her grip on it, her thoughts wander to something she's not dwelled on in a while.

"… Now that I know where this is, I'm much better off than I was before." she voices gratefully. "But as for something for me, do you…"

Emily turns, her expression plainly seeming to think she's been rude. "Sorry. I'm Emily, by the way. Do you have any how-tos for computer maintenance? Or car repair?"

"Iris!" Or EAR-ihs it sounds more like, she's always careful to stress the pronunciation of her name when meeting new folks. "Iris Earhart," she adds, a hand held out and ready to shake Emily's. She smiles wide, though after a moment it gives away to a more thoughtful expression.

"Hmm…" is a drawn out sound as Iris' head tilts back a bit, and she considers Emily's question. "Well… I know we have some books about computers and how they work. Also not a common topic, given the state of things. But if you're looking to pick up something, now's the time before the GhostNet or whatever it is goes up and everyone's all into the internet and their computers again."

A finger taps at her chin… and after a moment it seems like her eyes glaze over, thoughts having drifted off to who knows what.

Emily starts to shift her weight, leaning to her left side. The book begins to be lowered down, like she means to lean on something with that hand. She blinks with the realization of what she's doing, how unnecessary it is. Bracing herself for something like a handshake wasn't anything she needed to do anymore. She hastily stands back upright, reaching out to shake with a firm grip and a quick smile. "Nice to meet you, Iris." The pronunciation is handled as carefully as it was introduced to her.

"Yeah," she leans into explaining. "I used to be really interested in all of that and it just kind of fell by the wayside. Now might be a good time to pick up old hobbies, you know? 'World's your oyster' kind of situation…" Emily starts to palm the book back and forth between her hands before noticing Iris has disappeared into her thoughts again, any need for being self-conscious on her own part eliminated. She chuckles under her breath as a result. "And… GhostNet went up last month," she offers out casually. She definitely hadn't been eagerly waiting for it or anything.

For a long moment, Iris continues to stare off into space, before abruptly blinking and looking back to Emily. "Oh. Did it?" She wrinkles her nose and lets out a small laugh. "I guess I didn't notice!"

And without any time to dwell on just how that managed to escape her notice, she turns and again waves for Emily to follow her. "Cars, cars, cars. We definitely have a lot of books on cars, some newer, a lot salvaged. I think some old manuals got mixed in that I've been meaning to pull out, but at the same time, you never know how much you can learn from those things. People always joke about reading the manual, and yeah it's usually pretty boring, but when you don't know a lot about cars some of those can be way more captivating than they should be."

With a quick nod, she looks back over her shoulder to Emily. "Are you looking to fix up something to make it road worthy? I know a lot of people don't drive cars around here much anymore because of the gas prices and the roads and the general - I don't know, disinterest in it these days? What kind of car?"

On this, Emily's a lot less certain and a lot more cautious. "I don't know," she admits outright, her voice quieter than before. "My grandfather had worked on this restoration and let me help him. I guess… that's… basically my only starting point. It was a seventy-something Chevelle. Early seventies." After a beat, she adds apologetically, "All I can really remember." She's questioning the ask already, realizing reluctantly that might not be so practical to go asking after repairs and tune-ups for classic cars, but she shakes her head to wave the thought away. Starting somewhere would let her know if that was still something she was interested in.

"So, dealer's choice, maybe?" she suggests, a forced brightness carrying in her voice.

Iris gives another nod - little of that seems to have meant much to her, not knowing cars well, but she still looks thoughtful. "Okay. So- some books about mechanics, and the basics of cars? Yeah! I think that's something we can definitely provide. Probably not much in the way of selection, but- you know, something is always better than nothing right?" There's no follow up ramble this time, just a hummed tune as she continues to where the books should be found.

"Yeah," Emily echoes back with some relief, some of the tension that had started to build falling off of her. It was honestly refreshing dealing with someone who could handle her being vague without it locking up the conversation. Meeting Iris really was a stroke of luck at this point.

She turns over the origami with a small smile down at it before looking back up. "I really appreciate all of this, Iris. Who knows how long I'd have stood back there hanging my head otherwise."

Iris furrows her brow. "Huh?" She tilts her head to the side, unsure what she's being thanked for. Still she smiles and nods like she does know what Emily is talking about. Turning, she motions for her to follow - never mind that she already is. "Just be careful of some of the bookshelves back here. They've been known to cause bookslides lately! And you definitely don't want to get caught in one, they hurt. Used to happen all the time back home, actually. I lived above a bookstore, so it was pretty much wall to wall books, and…"

She doesn't even seem to take breaths at times as she continues on, rambling to Emily about the unseen and unknown dangers of overfull bookshelves.

Emily tucks her head to try and hide her smile, glancing up at her next steps only out of the corner of her eye as she follows after, listening to every word of warning and otherwise.

And of course, keeping watch for any rogue bookslides.

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