The Help Desk

by Margo McManus

Hey, uh…Mindy, right?
You’re not wearing a name tag,
But you were in my Robotics class last year.
You always brought a giant plate of nachos ‐ man, those were awesome!
The only good thing about that class.
Yeah, yeah, it’s me, Ryan!
I sat five seats to the right and two book bags behind you until Professor Pinwickle made me sit
somewhere else.
I know I kept getting distracted by the smell of cheesy goodness, but he probably just wanted to eat
them all for himself, the greedy bastard.
Oh, no, I don’t need a book, but I could certainly use some
See, there’s this girl:
She always sits behind the table closest to the Help Desk,
Right in the cubby where the clock stopped working my first day here and the sunlight shoves straight
into her face,
That random window seat from two hundred years ago with a truly impressive view of the dumpster.
She’s lounging with a different story every day, a leopard cuddled into the grass ‐
I never get close enough to read the titles, but I can tell by the wear and tear of the covers.
Today her prey is something old,
With bent corners, bleached cameos, and all kinds of mysterious scratches.
She’s read it before though ‐Look, see that little curve of the mouth, the way her lips puff into some strange sort of parenthesis?
She’s mouthing out her favorite parts, an adorable guppy blowing bubbles like smoke rings,
And caresses each page musty with lilac old lady smell like one would touch their grandmother’s favorite
chipped tea cup, or feel along the fuzzing edges of a baby blanket.
I’m imagining how it smells by the way, I’ve never so much as passed that book on the shelf,
But something that old and flowery just has to smell like it looks, right?
Anyway, that’s not the point.
The point is that I’m way too scared to ask her name, but I pass her on the sidewalk everyday on my
way to Calculus and
It’s probably why I’m failing that class.She’s always laughing as if nothing but a cataclysmic meteor strike could stop her;
The dust particles feather over her teeth and I can only think of her as immortal, chiseled into the
cliffsides of our world,
  White and worn like elephant tusks.
Forget about the test I didn’t study for.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays in my English 101 class, when I’m supposed to be pondering the Oxford
comma or the possible allegories in classic literature,
All I can see is her scribbling through the window, page after page of unknown ramblings for her
Creative Writing course mounding into anthills of letters.
I daydream of a moment she will push through their stinging snaps to exchange messages through the
window frost,
Dragging the pad of her thumb through the cold in a conquering parade,
Words trailing behind like shrunken heads.
Her fingernails would be red and glossy. 
Afterwards I follow her to the library,
Sit at the farthest table or pretend to peruse the shelves,
Watch her trace her palms over the walls and tip the day’s novel of choice into her lap.
I’m sure you’ve noticed ‐ libraries make me uncomfortable and I bumble over the silence,
But it hasn’t stopped me from venturing where I’ve rarely gone before,
Spying through cracks in bound crooked spines.
My mom always wanted me to go to the library more often, after she fed me more demands than I
could digest,
Pushed my head down into her latest used‐bookstore acquisition.
Who knew a boyish crush would have accomplished what years of forced reading and unwanted library
cards never did,
Though accosting the library staff probably isn’t what she had in mind.
But hey, this is the Help Desk, and I am in major need.
So, back to the point,
You know, the little dot on the perfect painting of fantasy that shows everything as a little too
The one highlighting the fact I haven’t the slightest clue what to call her.
If I had a name, perhaps I could one day work up the strength of character to ask what book she’s
reading this time,
Or what she plans on doing after college,
Make a move to learn her even better….
Wait, she’s your girlfriend?
Why didn’t you tell me sooner?
You just let me creepily moon over her for the last five minutes!
So not cool, man ‐
You owe me a shit ton of nachos.