GPPL Short Stories: Shush

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Mildred let out a frustrated sigh as she searched around her desk for her new bookmark, her copy of the library of Organic Chemistry: Acids and Bases precariously spread out on his keyboard. She held up several stacks of paper and muttered to herself as she searched in vain for it. Leaning back in her chair with resignation, she peeked out of her office window. I really needed to find that marker. He had just received it yesterday, he couldn’t have gone very far.

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As he watched the pigeons that frequented the building’s parking lot strut and peck at the air, he tried to retrace his steps. The day before had been busy, filled with meetings, unpopular decisions, and report writing. She had gone home exhausted, wanting nothing more than to snuggle up with her book and a glass of wine …


Mildred stopped in the driveway and politely greeted her neighbor, Tim, who was happily watering his hydrangeas. Inwardly, she moaned. Tim always wanted to have a chat, and she was too squeezed today to force herself to be the polite and courteous spinster in the neighborhood. Mildred busied herself with her purse and backpack, hoping against hope that today would be the day that Tim would stay in his garden, tending his precious flowers.

I was not so lucky.

“Millie!” Tim roared, grinning as he approached her, his hose forgotten in the grass, water seeping down the concrete path. Mildred tried not to flinch and gave him a slight smile as she got out of her car. She hated being called Millie.

“Hi Tim.”

“Good morning on the old ball and chain ?! Can’t say I miss it, retired life is a blessing. You know, I was looking at your hedges the other day, I couldn’t help but notice … “

Mildred logged out while Tim kept talking. She looked at him and thought how fragile the human body was. How easily you can tear and tear skin, break bones, tear muscles and ligaments. She steadied again when Tim began to silence her, a smile tugging at the corners of his mustache.

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“That?” she asked, shaking her head, confused as to why Tim was shushing her.

“Oh I said I was going to mow the lawn later and I hoped you wouldn’t come out and shut me up, I know librarians love to do that!” Tim laughed at her joke.

Mildred tried not to roll her eyes. “Actually, we don’t do that anymore. Libraries are community centers, so silence is quite non-existent. “

Tim waved his hand dismissively. “I think it is silly. Who goes to the library now, anyway?

Mildred felt her blood boil in the confines of her veins. Lots of people, Tim. Especially those who are able to think critically and recognize it as a safe space. Have a good night. ”She smiled sweetly at him as she headed for the front door, barely showing her teeth.

Later that night, as Mildred tried to fall asleep, Tim’s words echoed in her head. She was still furious. As he went round and round, he remembered that he had a chainsaw neatly stored in his basement.

She also remembered that Tim kept a spare key under a flowerpot on his deck.


Mildred straightened, remembering. She had put her new marker in the small zippered compartment of her purse. She pulled her purse from her desk drawer and pulled out the new marker, examining it fondly, raising her bloodied, severed finger to her lips and releasing a silence with a serene smile.

The neighborhood would be much quieter from now on.


By Hailey McCullough / Director of Adult Services at GPPL

You Love to Write GPPL will announce the theme for its 34th annual Collins Writing Contest on Wednesday, September 28th. Keep an eye on our website and social media channels for details.

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