During drive time I’m usually listening to NPR podcasts that include Selected Shorts. I’ve been a fan for years and often tuned in on late Sunday afternoons to listen. Later I did some time shifting by recording the program onto DVDs and then taking them with me on client drive-bys. I discovered great writers and writing including Grace Paley, Rick Moody, Sherman Alexie, Billy Collins, and many others who I would not ordinarily have read or heard.

This other morning I caught an unusual story, Exchange, by Ray Bradbury. It’s about a twilight visit by a young soldier returning to the town where he grew up and approaches the local librarian who lets him in after closing hours:

   “Forgive, I hope you won’t be upset, but when I was a boy I used to look up and  see  you behind your desk, so near but far away, and, how can I say this, I used  to  think  that you were Mrs. God, and that the library was a whole world, and  that  no  matter what part of the world or what people or thing I wanted to see and read, you’d find and give it to me.” He stopped, his face coloring. “You did, too. You had the world ready for me every time I asked. There was always a  place I hadn’t seen, a country I hadn’t visited where you took me. I’ve never forgotten.”

She  looked  around,  slowly, at the thousands of books. She felt her heart move quietly.

“Did you really call me what you just said?”

“Mrs. God? Oh, yes. Often. Always.”

Take some time and listen – read by Rochelle Oliver…

the_lesson_sisley The Lesson
Alfred Sisley, 1874