Blonde ringlets fell over the lady sitting behind the mahogany desk's shoulders. Her half-moon glasses were perched on the edge of her perfectly straight nose as her brown eyes were looking down at her desk. Her gaze only flicked up when I stopped in front of her, casting a shadow over the books she was stamping.
Her pale hands didn't pause when she made eye-contact with me, only hitting the biology book she'd opened with more force as a sneer spread across her pink lips.
"I don't know if you can understand or not but you need to leave."
Stamp. Stamp. Stamp.
The name on the card tab on her desk was 'Agnes James' and I ignored her attitude, more than a little used to it.
I coughed slightly as I looked down, preparing to deepen my voice. "There's word around that you need more people to help with re-stacking books here and I was wondering-"
The heavy imprint of red on a children's book she'd moved, cut me off. Her eyes narrowed in what I'd seen enough times in my life to describe as haughty disdain and she placed the stamp back on its base.
Her half-moon spectacles came off as she began to speak. "Look around, do you see any of your kind in here?"
My eyes glanced around the lighted space, from the glass skylight on the ceiling to the Eurasian men dotted about the aisles and tables staring at me. Half were wearing a mix of shock I was used to seeing and the other wore looks of disgust, almost like the one on Agnes's face.
"There are no job spaces for people like you and you know where the door is."
Stamp. Stamp. Stamp.
I knew it was futile but I was determined to try one more time. "If you're looking for extra hands, I'll work."
Agnes dragged her mud orbs up like I was a burden and I probably was in her eyes.
I blinked when she only proceeded to stare, a scowl deepening her pretty face. It didn't help that I was reminded and now felt the glares of the readers once again.
A mix of embarrassment and anger churned through me and I turned on the heels of my dress shoes. Holding my umbrella close, I retraced my steps without a second glance. I realised why this hit me harder than all the other racist remarks I'd been subjected to all my life.
Sherlock Holmes had made me forget.
He'd talked to me like I wasn't a part of the minority or looked down upon- even when he'd heard about my weird habits. He'd treated me like a person, an equal, and even though he tried to keep my arms bound that was more than I could say about most who were scared to make contact with me. In the forty minutes I'd been with him they were the nicest I'd had around people who were the type who loathed letting me forget they were my 'superior'.
I stopped at the doorway, spying the clouds becoming more heavy since my last check. "Thanks, anyway."
And I walked out with reality back on my shoulders.
I took off in the opposite direction: out of the richer area of the city. As well as away from the doubting looks.
I didn't feel in the mood to conversate at all so I walked, thoughts as clouded as the sky.
It was ludicrous that I was feeling downtrodden by the librarian's words even though I had heard worse, felt worse. I knew the detective had given me a taste of what it was like to be around people who didn't give a toss about how different your appearance was to theirs.
And now I was yearning for it.
It was brainless and I knew it but I couldn't even fake a smile into the windows of small shop's I'd passed. The streets had settled now, the business men's breaks and luncheons over until the next. But that meant I had to rely on the noise from horse's hooves and heckles from passing milk-mans to keep me distracted.
It didn't help that I didn't feel like going to Hannah's Florist. I held more than an inkling that the red-head wouldn't recruit me, clearly not with the beautiful women showcasing flowers around the nearby streets. The one's I'd seen were all pale and large-bosomed to which I didn't look at all like at all. Not with my slim figure or me looking like a male at the moment.
I kept my eyes on the ever-changing of the clouds, something I tended to do when I used to only dress like this on my rare days off at the hotel. When it was more for the freeing feeling of being someone but no-one at the same time. Where I could be not just the 'brown maid' but a person who enjoyed the scarce glimpses of sun and fed the birds and sketched in Gordon Square like everyone else. Where I could also be invisible to the people I didn't hold close in my heart and I could surprise those I saw as family with fresh bread from the bakers.
I crossed a road, only half conscious I was doing it- enough to not get trampled by a stallion. My feet came to a stop at a corner of a street my feet had trailed themselves to and my eyes left the heavens for a moment to see what it was. There was a black sign that hung above the dark building and my eyes traced the familiar letters:
I deliberated before entering and my feet made the choice for me. I would talk to a friend.