Dawn accepted the book cart from Emi and rolled it into a corner where she would be out of the way. There she piled half the books on the floor and started sorting the other half, using the emptied shelves to keep her sections organized.
Books on religion and philosophy went on the upper left. Books on history went on the upper right. Books on or in foreign languages went on the lower left, and books on science went on the lower right. Other types of books were less common and went in between wherever it made sense.
She still hadn’t memorized a full map of the library and its organization using the Dewey Decimal System, but after the last six months working here and shelving books at least once a week, she had a good sense of where different types of books went. Not all the library workers took the time to go through all the books and organize them before starting to shelve them (some people went to a section first and tried to find the books on the cart that went in that section, and Dawn was pretty sure she’d seen Derwen go one book at a time, pushing the cart wherever the next book on the cart went), but Dawn felt this was the fastest and easiest way to get all the shelving done.
When she had it all organized, she found herself with three fiction books balanced on top of the cart, so she went to that section first. It was the most convenient anyway, since it was near the front desk. Just as she was slotting the last one back into its correct spot on the shelf, she heard someone behind her clear her throat and say, “Hey.”
She turned around, curious. Yes, the person—a heavyset woman with blonde, curly hair who was vaguely familiar—was looking at Dawn. “Can I help you?” Dawn asked. Sometimes people wanted her help finding a specific book, and she was usually able to point them to at least the section.
“Yeah, sorry, this might be a weird question…” The woman was clutching a book to her chest. Dawn had definitely seen her before, but that wasn’t saying much. She saw almost every Chatoyant College student at least once a semester, and when she’d worked overnight shifts during finals week last semester, she felt as though she’d seen all the ones she’d missed during the rest of the year.
At least this woman was clearly not a faerie.
“I’ll do my best to answer.”
The woman’s eyes widened a little. “Oh, it’s not about library stuff. Sorry. But you know that Christy girl, right?”
Christy? Dawn knew she was staring blankly, but she couldn’t formulate an answer right away. She was sure the name Christy sounded familiar, but she couldn’t place it.
Obviously seeing Dawn’s confusion, the other woman clarified. “I saw you visit her once. In Mary Thomas.”
“Oh, right. Of course. What about her?” Dawn was simultaneously relieved and anxious that the girl’s explanation had helped her place the name. Christy was Elrath’s human alter ego. She hoped he hadn’t found a new way to pull young women in and seduce them with a false face and form.
“I just wanted to know, is she autistic or something? Is there anything I can do to help? She never talks to anybody and Professor Jayasuriya says she doesn’t even use email.”
Dawn was staring blankly again. Why was this girl asking about this now? Did she think “Christy” suddenly had friends who could be asked about these things? And more importantly, what on earth could Dawn say?
A faerie like Elrath, who didn’t understand how to integrate into human society, might potentially be diagnosed as autistic if he went to a psychiatrist. But Dawn didn’t really know if that was true, she couldn’t diagnose him herself, and she couldn’t think why it would matter to anyone else. It certainly wouldn’t be fair to autistic people to say that “Christy” was autistic without a diagnosis.
What would Elrath want her to say? He’d probably want her to make an excuse and smooth it over. He did not want to draw attention to himself.
Not that she really cared what he thought. The only person who deserved an honest answer was this nice girl, who apparently wanted to help him.
“I have no idea,” Dawn said. “I don’t honestly know hi—her that well. I agree that she’s a little strange, but I think she’s happy the way she is. She doesn’t need help.”
The blonde woman nodded, but her mouth was a little twisted to the side in skepticism. “Are you sure?”
“No, I’m not sure,” Dawn said, shrugging. “You know where she lives, right? Why don’t you ask her yourself?”
“Well, she’s pretty rude when I try.”
“I think she can take care of herself.” Dawn put her hands on the cart handle. “She’s graduating at the end of this semester.”
“Okay, thanks anyway.” The girl shrugged and turned away.
Dawn returned to her shelving, wondering what on earth that conversation had really been about.