The shoe that Jelissa had just thrown had vanished through the wall, which had jiggled a bit and then returned to its previous state.
The whole room was stunned for a moment.
There was a collective wow.
“You’ve got an amazing arm,” said Demetrius to Jelissa, appreciatively. “You should be a pitcher.” “I am a pitcher, you dork,” said Jelissa, “with the Lightbulb League. You should come and watch sometime. They’re great games.”
“To watch a pitch like that again? You bet.” Said Demetrius.
“I’m convinced.” Jelissa said to the group, “And I volunteer to run first. I’ll go – and if I can find my shoe – I’ll throw it back. Someone just needs to grab it for me when you run.”
Everyone nodded – Jelissa took off her other shoe, put it in her hand and walked back, all the way into the lounge – then took off running like a shot. She streaked past us and straight into the wall. We all flinched when she got close to it, but she didn’t stop or slow down. She sailed through it, just as her shoe had before her.
We waited a few moments expectantly and then her shoe came sailing back through the wall, shooting out as if it had been shot with a slingshot.
Leopoldo the burro headed for Jelissa’s sneaker and took it up in his mouth. Oswaldo gave him a pat on his haunches and Leopoldo seemed to smile.
Axlam looked at Basra the Ostrich, who bent down to allow her to climb onto her back. “Basra is quite a fast runner,” she said, “Yes, I think we will go next.” They began walking back toward the lounges.
Toti cleared her throat, “Zanmi mwen, you all should go before,” she said, “We will find another way.”
This pulled everyone up short. No one was keen on leaving anyone behind.
“It’s because turtles are so slow, right?” said Demetrius.
“Well,” Toti said, “they’re not as slow as everyone thinks but they are slower than all of these other libraries, for sure, particularly on land. And with the books on his back, Félix is slower than most.”
“Just take the books off his back then,” said Becky.
All of the Librarians gasped in horror.
“Leave the books?” said Cooper, the Crocodile Librarian. “Honey, what kind of monster would leave their library’s books behind?”
“Sor-reee.” Said Becky, who didn’t seem too sorry but at least had the good sense not to say anything else.
Then there was a flash and a blur that flew past us so fast, it took us a moment to realize that it was Axlam and Basra the Ostrich. They charged through the wall, which made a funny gulping noise and filled in around them, like they were fruit falling into pancake batter.
This seemed to give Sarkus the Elephant, Leopoldo the Burro and Plato the Crocodile the confidence they needed to go through the wall. They began to pull their librarians toward it.
“Maybe,” said Svetlana. “we should carry the Turtle.”
“It will take a lot of strength to lift Félix,” said Toti. “I’m not sure we will be able to run with him.”
“We can try,” said Demetrius.
Toti went to Félix’s head, which he was bravely keeping outside his shell and Demetrius stepped up to Félix’s tail. Toti said, “We will need two more at least.”
So I stepped up on one side and Xiaodan the Pigeon Librarian stepped to the other, pigeon on their shoulder “On three,” Toti said, “We will try to lift him. Dakó Félix?” Félix nodded and on three we bent and lifted –and we could lift him but he was heavy. “Running will be difficult,” Xiaodan the Pigeon Librarian said.
We put the turtle back down. Mahout had been talking with her library and it appeared that the elephant was willing to transport the turtle. We’d just have to get him up there. So all the librarians gathered together to lift the turtle and then strap him on. Toti strapped herself in up there as well, to keep the Turtle steady and secure. Then Mahout tucked the ends of her orange skirt into her waistband, making her skirt look like baggy shorts. She and the elephant walked back to the lounge and then ran at great speed toward the wall, which they disappeared into easily. That left the Crocodile, the Pigeon and the Burro, as well as the rest of us kids. Oswaldo offered the Burro to carry anyone of us who didn’t feel so comfortable running. “He actually runs a lot faster with a rider,” he said.
I had been getting more and more nervous about having to run through the wall so I cautiously raised my hand and looked around. I thought the other kids might make fun of me for wanting to ride the Burro Library but they were too busy getting ready to run to pay any attention to me or maybe they just didn’t feel like making fun of me anymore.
Oswaldo pulled down a little step stool from the shelves that hung over the Leopoldo’s back. He offered his hand and helped me step up and over the shelves to climb onto the burro’s back. I had to put my legs into a tiny space between the burro’s sides and the shelves that hung there. Then Oswaldo gave me a bit of rope to hang on to.
In a calm reassuring voice, Oswaldo said, “Leopoldo, he will drive himself. But you hold on here and don’t let go. You will go very fast and arrive on the other side.”
Oswaldo led the Burro to the back of the lounge, as the other libraries ran past us through the wall. Finally, we were ready to go ourselves and Oswaldo said, “En sus marcas, listos, fuera!” and the burro took off, Oswaldo racing by his side.