That evening Jennifer sat in her pottery shop, looking out the window at the olive grove and wondering what to do next. This business of being and not being at the same time was proving more difficult than she would have envisioned, if in her sleepy little life she’d ever considered the possibility of getting stranded in this existential way station with trains in all directions, which she didn’t. She had to consider why she never asked more of her life, and the only answer she could come up with was that she couldn’t aspire to things she didn’t know existed. She also wondered how much more of this there was that she couldn’t conceive of, things that might be interesting and worth spending time on, surely more interesting than making yet another Etruscan amphora. Working things back into the past wasn’t her cup of tea. If she could work stuff back into the past, she’d rather have done something about the time she had wasted on earth.
Where does one find answers to questions one doesn’t know how to formulate yet? Well, the library, of course.
There is this thing about boring people, they always have some skills, passions or interests nobody cares about, but which always seem to come in handy when need arises. Jennifer was a library rat. When she was very young she used to spend so much time there people mistook her for the staff, and so, to avoid the awkwardness of having them apologize to her for the confusion, she learned the library system in order to answer their questions with reasonable accuracy, and that knowledge was just about to come in handy right now.
Sure, the Akashic records were not your run of the mill local branch, but they were a library after all, how different could they be?
The thought of finally doing something new, and entirely pottery free, felt so exciting to Jennifer that she didn’t stop to question how she was going to get there, to those archives to which she was supposedly connected, or if they were an actual physical reality, or more of a flood of data which, judging by her current surroundings, she wasn’t capable of processing just yet.
“Well, what’s it going to hurt if I give it a try?” she thought, and focused on the library location with as much intensity as she was capable of, while the kitten was climbing up her leg and pinching her with its tiny but very sharp claws. “I wonder if I’m allowed to bring a cat into the library,” was Jennifer’s last thought before opening her eyes to find herself in a large and somewhat dark reading room surrounded by shelving. The kitten had managed to claw his way off her shoulder and disappeared under a shelf, in search of plunder.
“Wow, it really is a library,” Jennifer was surprised to notice. Of course if Möbius were there, he would have explained to her that places in this realm looked like whatever one expected them to, but for some reason he seemed to be otherwise occupied at the time. “Lucky me, let’s see, where do I want to start?”
She found her way around the Dewey decimal system to the portion of the library that contained her city of birth and plunged into the bowels of the archives to find her school, her parents, any information about her former life.
“Good grief, my life was so pointless even the Akashic records couldn’t summon interest in it, how much further do I have to dig to find myself in existence, I’ve already reached the last shelf and I’m not on it either. Ah, here we go: Jennifer Smith – life range 29, that’s me.”
She expected there to be endless iterations of her alternate lives, at least that’s what Möbius had said, but there were only a few, and all of them pretty much on the same lines as her actual life.
“At least I don’t have to wonder if I didn’t miss out on actually doing something with myself. I so hate Möbius right now, how hard is it to give a person some reason to live, other than wasting breath for twenty nine years!”
She looked around at the vast archive, with shelves after shelves of lives and alternate lives, and was so distressed over being relegated to the dollar bin that she placed her book back on the first shelf she found, without looking at the numbers or anything, who cared anyway. She spent the rest of the day going through other people’s books, covetous of their successes, of their long lives, of their friendships or romances, basically of having anything she never got. In her outrage about being so victimized she of course failed to notice the less palatable aspects of their lives.
She didn’t care anymore about foreknowledge and the consequences it might bring, so she made her way through the library in search of family and friends and the details of their coming years, and emerged from this endeavor with an even deeper sense of futility, firmly attached to her God complex.
“Nobody hardly ever does anything with this blessed life, I wonder why we bother at all.”
Since she was there, she figured maybe she could find something worth wasting time on, something like knowledge about the universe, or things that haven’t been invented yet, the end of time or maybe other intelligent species. After she was done with that she found the restricted section relating to what was before the world came into being and about the nature of God. That section must have been equipped with a presence sensor, because as she exited a row of shelves with her arms filled with the books she was planning to take back to unconstructed space and study at leisure, she found herself face to face with Möbius, who, as usual, seemed upset with her.
“Well, at least there is one reliable component in this ever-changing environment, and that is the fact that no matter what I do, Möbius is going to get mad at me for it.”
“You are not allowed in here, Jennifer, this section is restricted. My head still hurts from all of my bosses’ yelling at me. Could you please put the books down on the table and get out of here? Don’t worry about them, someone will reshelve them later. Someone with the proper credentials,” he frowned displeased.
Möbius, as any entity endowed with reason, had to acknowledge the de facto access one earned by nature of one’s inherent capacity to, well, get in. Besides, he had encouraged Jennifer to visit the library, he just didn’t expect her to rummage through every single one of the restricted sections. How, of all the humans in history, from all the cities and countries in all the world, did he manage to pick this one? For a split second he contemplated the fact that maybe, through means beyond the understanding of even the angelic realm, Jennifer herself was his punishment for drawing her life outside the lines, so to speak; who knew how heavens worked, really, even to the highest of the hosts their workings were nothing but revelation and miracle. The miracle of Jennifer indeed. God must have had a wicked sense of humor.
“Are you happier now, Jennifer? Now that you learned all there is to learn about everything,” Möbius chastised as he walked her to the main reading room, irritated that they had to find the kitten before heading back.
“I’m sure I don’t know everything about everything,” she contradicted him. “There is a section…”
“And nor will you,” Möbius interrupted her, “if there is any mercy in this universe,” he mumbled under his breath while looking under every shelf in search of tiny glowing eyes. “This cursed cat has more access than I do, there must be something wrong with the world.”
“Words of advice, Möbius,” Afael resonated in his head. “Next time you feel particularly creative, refrain.”