Moments Overheard at the Boston Public Library

Text by Marisa Dellatto

Photos by Becca Chairin


Two high school students sit, taking turns watching snapchat stories. Engrossed in their virtual realities, unaware of the museum they are centered in. Spanish tumbles off their lips. She gets up, coming back into the great room if only for a moment to pose for a selfie with him. They see through their screen the vast room that is Bates Hall. Satisfied, she sits back down and vanishes once again.
A security guard gently reminds a woman that her morning coffee is, “not allowed upstairs.”
The dice rolls. “What’s it say, what’s it say?” 

“Ah, pay $40 a house,” says one of the ecstatic teens huddled around a Monopoly board. The lively group of guys is endlessly entertained gooning around with a board game. The Beats headphones wrapped around their necks shake as they talk. 

“Oh yes!” a player shouts, moving his piece across. 

The dice roll again. “What the fuuuuuckkkkkkk.”

“I got them hunneds!” The plastic cubes pater as they decide their players’ fates. 

“One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight.” The group counts aloud like children, all together. 

The silver piece lands on a property. “Yo wassap!! That’s my company!”
“Where’d the murder take place?” an employee inquires on the phone. He repeats himself in a stern tone. “Where did the murder take place?”
“You can get to the lobby in this one, right?” asks a man peering over his glasses. The quintessential dad, clad in light denim jeans and bleached New Balance sneakers, he cautiously steps into the elevator. His snow jacket is encumbered by the heap of DVDs towering in his arms. He sighs, “I get lost everytime I come in here.” 
“I named my people Juan and Juanita,” she confidently states to the round table. Her friends sit around, gabbing while they do their homework. “Juan and Juanita are in love.” Stuck on her prompt, she re-motivates. “UGH I’m dying! I’m gonna write in honor of Ashley.”

“Why Ashley?” asks one of the girls, who was clearly not Ashley.
“It’s terrible. I’m sweatin’. It’s too bad the heat’s on,” a man grunts to his friend. “I’m roastin’,” he barks, undoing layer after layer until he is down until to his plain white tee shirt. He throws on deodorant over his tee shirt in the middle of the aisle. His camo pants and grey beanie remain untouched while he waits for his friend to finish searching for a book.
“I’m kidding.”
“No you were not. You were not kidding.”
A runaway boy, just old enough to use his voice, scuttles across the floor. He gurgles, “a guh guh guh,” to his caretaker. Slowly, he inches toward the door of the children’s section. He crawls like a chimp, using his arm as a third leg. His striped pants match his blue eyes. He creeps out, his fingers just about to cross the threshold into the unknown, until he is picked up and whisked away. His eyes remain fixated at the door. Next time.