12: 78 Rubber Plant Leaves

Garry is polishing the leaves on the sixth rubber plant when Linda elbows him aside, grabs her clipboard and darts across the library. He hears John shout. He sees Linda make a note of the words on her clipboard. He sees her shake her head sorrowfully at John and take his arm. She points at something on the clipboard and pulls him over in the direction of the lift. Garry wonders if John is being taken up, to The Office, or down, to the Forbidden Area.

Garry's feelings at the moment are mainly anxiety. Slightly more than usual.

He turns back to the rubber plant. He has a special cloth and a spray bottle of water. He is cleaning the leaves like Linda told him to. He is wondering if he is going to have to do this all day. He is wondering if he should clean the underside of the leaves as well as the tops. He is wondering if it is actually good for the plants to have their leaves polished. He hears a noise.

It is a most amazing noise. It is a cross between the language spoken in the Garden of Eden, the sound of grass growing and the music of the spheres. He stops very still. He is not sure if he is the only person hearing this noise. The noise carries on. It isn't a song or a tune, it's just one big noise that seems to ring out from the walls and the floors. He could close his eyes and feel it in his jaw and sternum. He could close his eyes and imagine it like light. It would look like a rainbow striped door curtain. It would be beautiful. It is beautiful.

Garry still has his fingers on the 78th rubber plant leaf. It is firm and waxy and full of health. Linda looks after these plants well. The leaf is trembling in his hand. His hands are trembling, but the leaf is vibrating. The leaf is vibrating in sympathy with the wonderful noise he is nearing.

Garry feels tears start to form in his eyes. Garry puts one hand on his heart. For the first time in weeks, he is not worrying about his heart. He is not thinking that he is going to die soon. He is thinking that his heart will be vibrating at the same frequency as this wonderful music and this will make him have some kind of superpower. Maybe he will be able to move large objects with his mind. Maybe he will be able to find lost dogs by holding a pendulum over a map.

Garry sees Linda and John come back into the main library. They are looking at the ceiling, at the windows, at the doors, with slack, amazed faces. He sees Katerina bound into the main area. She is holding a roll of sellotape but she is smiling. She is smiling as if the muscles in her face are not used to it. Bob comes out of the back room, his feet bare, his socks in one hand.

The borrowers move away from the shelves and into the space at the front of the library. They are looking at each other. They are making sure that everyone is hearing this wonderful noise. No one says anything. Apart from the amazing noise the library is completely silent.

Garry places the spray bottle of water and the cloth neatly on the window ledge and walks over to where his new workmates are standing.

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