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The Key to the Animal Kingdom

“What do you suppose I should choose after I get my card?” I questioned my chubby cat, Chloe. I knew my slothful feline could not understand me, but it seemed like a more appropriate choice than speaking to my walls. Today was the day, and my mother was finally going to drive through the chaotic traffic to get my official library card. Butterflies fluttered inside my stomach for weeks, and now that it was only a matter of hours, those beautiful creatures transformed into dinky bees; they zipped and buzzed against the lining of my digestive system which made me nervous. What if there was a complication that stopped them from issuing me that little piece of plastic? I knew it was preposterous that there was going to be any, but the possibility hung in the air like humidity. Perhaps I was still too young to acquire one? More outcomes dashed rapidly within my head. I am pretty sure being eight is old enough have one, I concluded in my head, and it only seemed like a few minutes after pondering these thoughts when my mom’s voice thundered across the house.

“The library is going to open soon, so we need to start heading out!” she bellowed, not noticing why I hadn’t departed from my coral painted, stuffed animal crammed room all morning.

Since those perky bees stung my intestines since Apollo’s golden orb rose above the horizon, I had been dressed in my proper school clothes after their rage began. I didn’t want to be late, so my feet quickly hopped down from the mattress and raced across the bedroom floor. My plump kitty, who had slumbered on my bed since last night, gave me that annoyed meow that translated as “What the heck?”

I still remember that day during my third grade year, especially that long, tedious car ride to the Allen County Public Library. I have always observed how reading novels assigned by my fledging teacher has always captured my attention, but I knew deep in my heart it just wasn’t the same as having the freedom to choose what I want and when I want. As soon as my wish to acquire a card was accepted by my parents, I immediately brainstormed in my cranial cavity as to what my rented novels should be about: a death defying survival wolf story about White Fang, the majestic lion, Aslan, roaring trees to life in Narnia, or perhaps the heart wrenching horse tale of Black Beauty? These swift moving ideas skidded across my brain which left black streak marks.

“We’re here!” mother announced eagerly. I knew she was electrified because I always confiscated her card for my own purposes which drove her beyond bonkers. When my six sized feet touched the gray, cracked parking lot, they seemed to have a mind of their own when they practically sprinted into that library. I didn’t even notice that that my speedy pace had almost lost Mom when I entered through the fire engine red doors straight to the help service desk.

“May I help you?” the older woman greeted us politely.

Mother scanned the crowded area and briskly made her way over to me. “My daughter would like a child’s library card,” Mom responded casually and a little out winded from the running. When the lady requested my name and home address, her slender fingers frantically entered the information into the database that kept all the members’ records. Afterwards, she instructed me in a voice that was meant for infants, “You can walk over there,” she pointed to the colorful section chockfull with other kids my age, “and pick out some books. When you come back, I will have your card ready. Okay?”

I nodded although a little irritated from her tone and did what she commanded me to do, then instantly became overwhelmed by my options filled with every story type imaginable. Dutifully, I shuffled through every single aisle so I wouldn’t miss any titles, but I couldn’t find anything that interested me in a way worth taking my time to get lost in their saga. After I searched and hunted for the right book, the last aisle stood before me, and it almost brought me to tears. I’d been patiently waiting for this moment for a long period of time, and I ruined it for not discovering my ideal novel.

When my broken down body passed the last shelf, there was a different atmosphere held within this final row of books because of the subject matter. Out of the blue, an epiphany hit me on the side of the head like a meteor-I realized my inspiration for my love of animals has brought me to the conclusion that this was the type of fantasy I should be reading. My pupils surrounded by my dark blue irises dilated as they read some of the titles: “The Black Stallion, The Good Dog, Secret of Nimh, Child of the Wolves”, and there were so many more that I couldn’t even fathom it. My hopes grew so high that I wondered if my emotion traveled all the way above the fluffy, white clouds so heaven could sense it. The novels’ comprehension levels were way past my reading ability, but I knew that once I began my adventure, I could become an expert reader. The impulse to borrow all of them was fierce, except I also acknowledged that I had to start out little by little to reach that goal. After I rigorously rummaged in that particular aisle, I chose a novel that is still to this day one my favorite books, Misty of Chincoteague, which focuses on a true story of a wild horse in Virginia.

I retreated to the front desk with my prize in hand, but mom looked somewhat annoyed. “That’s it? It’s been well over a half hour and you came back with just one?” She seemed confused, but then she witnessed that gleam in my eye and quickly dropped the subject. She directed her attention to the lady at the desk, “I guess this is it.” The woman rung my chosen novel with the scanner which made a ping sound and I noticed she held an object that was yellow in her aging hands.

“And here you are!” she yelped in a high pitched voice. The lady slid the book across the counter for me to grab it and also placed my sunflower yellow library card with a ridiculous rosy clown playing the trumpet inside front cover. Feeling triumphant in my victory of finding the perfect book, I skipped out of the building leaving my mom in the dust with high expectations thumping in my soul. I knew that there was a magical realm in this book that desperately called my name so it could share its story, and I could hardly wait to arrive back home once I bolted the car door shut. The retreat through Fort Wayne, Indiana seemed like the longest ride of my life, but at that particular moment, my youthful mind knew that the choice to possess a library card would change the way I looked at fantasy books.

Since I was too young and immature to grasp my situation, this moment actually became one of the most key memories I own. When I fell victim to the engrossing words that attracted me like a bee loves honey, it felt like I wanted to cry when there was no sugary nectar left to read. I was addicted to the taste; I needed more to satisfy my needs, and I was desperate to check out more with my brand spanking new piece of canary yellow plastic. After reading it, I was free from my official first checked out novel, and I realized that fantasy and supernatural stories are my greatest interest and have continued to fulfill my hunger for their wild domain. The willpower to enhance my learning skills even more soon became a reality once I began visiting the library regularly, and now my imagination can reach to unfathomable levels. Thanks to my casual chats with my cat and animal loving instincts, I have respected each novel’s story since which has continued to influence me to read more and more that normal teenagers would consider weird. Years later, I am not your average, everyday adult and the more I read, the more I am able to analyze a novel to its full potential and it’s all because of the way I was frantic to own certified pass to hidden dreams and kingdoms.