A Little Girl’s Dream

A Little Girl’s Dream

From A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul

A Little Girl’s Dream

The promise was a long time keeping. But then, so was the dream.

In the early 1950s in a small Southern California town, a little girl hefted yet another load of books onto the tiny library’s counter.

The girl was a reader. Her parents had books all over their home, but not always the ones she wanted. So she’d make her weekly trek to the yellow library with the brown trim, the little one-room building where the children’s library actually was just a nook. Frequently, she ventured out of that nook in search of heftier fare.

As the white-haired librarian hand-stamped the due dates in the 10-year-old’s choices, the little girl looked longingly at “The New Book” prominently displayed on the counter. She marveled again at the wonder of writing a book and having it honored like that, right there for the world to see.

That particular day, she confessed her goal.

“When I grow up,” she said, “I’m going to be a writer. I’m going to write books.”

The librarian looked up from her stamping and smiled, not with the condescension so many children receive, but with encouragement.

“When you do write that book,” she replied, “bring it into our library and we’ll put it on display, right here on the counter.”

The little girl promised she would.

As she grew, so did her dream. She got her first job in ninth grade, writing brief personality profiles, which earned her $1.50 each from the local newspaper. The money palled in comparison with the magic of seeing her words on paper.

A book was a long way off.

She edited her high-school paper, married and started a family, but the itch to write burned deep. She got a part-time job covering school news at a weekly newspaper. It kept her brain busy as she balanced babies.

But no book.

She went to work full-time for a major daily. Even tried her hand at magazines.

Still no book.

Finally, she believed she had something to say and started a book. She sent it off to two publishers and was rejected. She put it away, sadly. Several years later, the old dream increased in persistence. She got an agent and wrote another book. She pulled the other out of hiding, and soon both were sold.

But the world of book publishing moves slower than that of daily newspapers, and she waited two long years. The day the box arrived on her doorstep with its free author’s copies, she ripped it open. Then she cried. She’d waited so long to hold her dream in her hands.

Then she remembered that librarian’s invitation, and her promise.

Of course, that particular librarian had died long ago, and the little library had been razed to make way for a larger incarnation.

The woman called and got the name of the head librarian. She wrote a letter, telling her how much her predecessor’s words had meant to the girl. She’d be in town for her 30th high school reunion, she wrote, and could she please bring her two books by and give them to the library? It would mean so much to that ten-year-old girl, and seemed a way of honoring all the librarians who had ever encouraged a child.

The librarian called and said, “Come.” So she did, clutching a copy of each book.

She found the big new library right across the street from her old high school; just opposite the room where she’d struggled through algebra, mourning the necessity of a subject that writers would surely never use, and nearly on top of the spot where her old house once stood, the neighborhood demolished for a civic center and this looming library.

Inside, the librarian welcomed her warmly. She introduced a reporter from the local newspaper—a descendant of the paper she’d begged a chance to write for long ago.

Then she presented her books to the librarian, who placed them on the counter with a sign of explanation. Tears rolled down the woman’s cheeks.

Then she hugged the librarian and left, pausing for a picture outside, which proved that dreams can come true and promises can be kept. Even if it takes 38 years.

The ten-year-old girl and the writer she’d become posed by the library sign, right next to the reader-board, which said:

WELCOME BACK,
JANN MITCHELL

Jann Mitchell

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