The days passed faster than they had ever passed in Aurora's life, for the first time she was in a place that was not La Villa and she did not stop being fascinated by what she saw, it was not only the sea, the gardens, the big trees in the library square, and the library. In La Villa only Aunt Julia and the school had books and neither had as many as that gigantic building.
Ivan worked most of the day and as she had nothing better to do, she spent most of the afternoon walking the streets surrounding the set of buildings where she lived, this was so until she discovered how to get to the library, at first she was fascinated by the imposing building, and the green of its gardens, but when she realized that she could enter freely, it was its large and bright rooms full of books, projectors and interactive terminals, which really caught her of the place.
Her fascination with books came from her aunt Julia and the long afternoons she spent listening to her read the stories that filled her crowded bookshelf. Stories of vanished kingdoms, of lost cities and ancient heroes who once walked the world, of inventors and scientists who changed the world, of the exploits of explorers and adventurers and how it all ended with the great catastrophe that wiped out almost everything that existed.
Unfortunately, shortly after discovering that she could freely enter the library, she also discovered, in a bad way, that, although she could enter; in order to take the books, she needed a credential, which she did not have and needed Ivan to obtain it. The lack of one earned her a scolding from one of the monitors in the room when she removed a book from a shelf, which set off an alarm on the clerk's desk. So she could only inspect the interactive terminals in the general room, which, while they could keep her busy for a while, were not far from the things her aunt or the school had already taught her.
That afternoon, while she was using one of the terminals, she saw a woman in her fifties coming out of one of the restricted rooms, walking with difficulty, while carrying in her hands two large and heavy books, similar in appearance to the one she kept from her aunt, the woman placed the tomes on one of the tables at the end of the room and leaned against it, trying to catch her breath. Seeing her, at moments she reminded her of her aunt and mother, in their last moments, when illness overwhelmed them.
Aurora got up from the bench where she was sitting and stealthily approached the woman, hiding among the tables, slyly sat on the bench of a terminal a few meters away from her and watched her carefully, while she played an interactive content about the human digestive system and that of other mammals, which she was not really interested in watching.
She was a tall, thin woman, with brown, partially graying hair and a pale yellowish complexion, she clearly appeared to be ill, as sooner or later happened to everyone her age. Apparently, just as in La Villa, people over the age of forty suffered from the same degenerative affection, which in the end killed almost everyone it attacked, without the doctors being able to do anything about it.
The woman dropped heavily into the chair, as if she could no longer stand, let her head fall back and exhaled a weak sigh, which seemed to express more frustration than relief. After a few minutes, she tried to stand up again and her legs gave out, causing her to fall back into the chair. Frustrated, she pushed the books forward, leaned her elbows on the table and buried her face in her open hands.
Aurora, who, discreetly hidden behind the terminal monitor, continued to watch her attentively, gave her the impression that she was crying, as she hid her face with her hands. The girl left the terminal and timidly approached the woman, who did not notice her presence.
-Are you all right, ma'am,? -Aurora asked.
The woman raised her face and looked at her with two tired and aged blue eyes, she straightened up in the chair and looked up and down at the girl, who was watching her attentively.
-Yes little girl, I'll be fine, I'm just feeling a little tired, -she said sweetly.
-Do you need help?
-No, I just need to take a breath, -she answered -tell me, what's your name?
-Aurora, ma'am..., -the girl answered proudly-. Aurora Roberti.
-Hello Aurora, my name is Hilda, -she said -. Tell me Aurora, what are you doing here, instead of being in the gallery or in the academy, like all the children of your age - asked Hilda.
-I don't know what the gallery is, and I'm not at the academy -answered Aurora.
-What do you mean, you're not in the academy?
-I'm new in town, I arrived just ten days ago, where I come from there is no academy, there I studied in a school and I had already finished all the courses they offered, I did it long before all the kids older than me, -she said proudly.
-And why did you come to the city Aurora Roberti - continued Hilda.
-I moved here with my brother after our mother died -answered Aurora.
-And is he with you?
-Not at the moment, he works during the day, then, after doing the housework, I go for a walk in the neighborhood and I always end up here, looking at the contents of the terminals, but they don't let me read the books, because I don't have a credential.
-I understand. Well Aurora Roberti, I have to go on with my work, it has been nice talking to you -Hilda stood up with difficulty and tried to lift the books, she took impulse and lifted them from the table, but again her legs faltered.
Aurora quickly approached her and held her by her side, preventing her from falling, and helped her to stand up.
-Damn it, I'm becoming useless - Hilda said in a cracked voice, partly because she was tired, partly because she was repressing her tears and frustration.
-Let me help you, I am very strong, -said the girl giving her a smile.
-Okay, you take one of the books, I'll take the other, - said Hilda.
Before the woman could say another word, Aurora took both books, which were heavier than she thought and with a forced smile on her lips, her arms stretched to their limit by the weight and with a surprised expression she said, -I can handle them both, come on tell me which way to go.
Hilda smiled, stood up and walked to the private reading room where she worked, followed by Aurora who stumbled along carrying the heavy copies in her hands.
After that afternoon, Aurora would have free passage to the room where Hilda worked and it would be with her that she would learn more about the catastrophe that once changed humanity.