StoryADay May: Holly Heals a Heart

This post is part of StoryADay May ( #StoryADay #StoryADayMay @storyadaymay #freeshortstory

Below, please find Holly Heals a Heart

For those who don’t know, years and years ago, I wrote a novel (currently out of print) set on Llannonn, a planet where courtesy is literally the law. When I went on a blog book tour for the novel, I ran a contest for naming a character in a short story set in the same world. Fellow writer Holly Jahangiri (the real one) was such a determined contestant, I named a character after her, too. That character commandeered the story, and I’ve been writing about her ever since.

I write a Holly story on the Sundays of Story A Day May.

Holly Jahangiri (the fictional one) becomes, is, and retires as a Librarian at a library for living books. It seems that somebody on Llannonn read Fahrenheit 451 and decided a library of people who recite books they’ve memorized was a great idea. Typically for Llannonn, they officialized it. Becoming a living book is now a respectable career, provided you can get a gig in a library.

Holly Heals a Heart

High Head Librarian Holly Jahangiri and District Criminal Investigator Pel Darzin weren’t quite married yet, but they were near as dammit. All they needed was one more disinterested bystander’s vote of confidence, and the marriage would be registered and official.

The problem was finding enough disinterested bystanders.

As High Head Librarian of Council City’s Living Libraries, Holly had come into contact with all the Living Books fans in town. As District Criminal Investigator, Darzin was acquainted with many citizens by virtue of their being criminals, victims, witnesses, law enforcement officers, confidential informants, or current or former street urchins who worked for him informally in a rag-tag group called the Irregulars.

They had taken to strolling the streets of Council City in their off hours, Holly without her trademark purple feather boa and Darzin in his non-uniform lilac tunic, hanging around in parks, coffee shops, and restaurants, hoping to impress someone they didn’t know with their compatibility. More than once, they had been rousted by management for suspicious lingering or beat cops for suspected vagrancy, and they were forced to introduce themselves, and there went that possible vote.

On this particular day, they had decided to attend a Remembrance Day gathering, where citizens got together in family units or in community events to honor the heroes on all sides of the wars the planet Llannonn had once committed and suffered before the Courtesy Accords had made fighting unthinkable and, in general, unnecessary.

There would be so many in attendance, surely there would be someone who didn’t know them, and it would expected for them to spend the entire day there, if they wanted to.

The City’s central square was decorated all around with bunting and flags in all the colors of all the nations on Llannonn. Food booths and information kiosks representing all three sociotypes – Urban, Rural, and Wandering – lined the perimeter. There was a bandstand, where representative music from all over Llannonn was played and there were strolling dance teachers who instructed and led anyone who chose in ethnic dancing.

It was less a day of mourning the lost and more a celebration of not having to lose any more to senseless, wasteful state-sponsored wholesale murder.

And yet, someone was mourning.

It was only one voice among many, but Holly and Darzin, each attuned to the sounds of distress, heard it and gravitated toward it.

As they approached the voice, it moved away, and they picked up their pace.

They caught up with the mourner in an alley, where he had stopped, cupped his hands around his mouth, and repeated his cry, “Richard Parker! Richard Parker!”

The noise was pulling the attention of three alley jammers, small warm-blooded, color-changing, scaled vermin with prehensile toes, long tails, and cute little wrinkly pink noses. Apparently, they hadn’t gotten the memo about “no fighting”, because two of them had ganged up on another and were sticking their tongues out at him or her in a very provoking way.

Darzin cleared his throat in what he couldn’t help but do in a official-sounding manner.

The man turned, tears in his eyes.

“I beg your pardon,” Darzin said, “but, if you don’t mind my asking, are you crying about Richard Parker or looking for him?”

“Both,” said the man. “You see, my mother once worked as secretary to an Earthling whose favorite book was Life of Pi. He had it in hardback, paperback, and audio recording. When he died, he left all three to my mother, who also loved it. I grew up hearing it and reading it. I can recite it verbatim.”

“Allow me to introduce myself,” said High Head Librarian Holly Jahangiri, and did so.

Tears flowed down the man’s face.

“I would love to be Life of Pi in your library,” he said, “but I have no Richard Parker.”

Holly, who had really had it with Books who insisted on bringing sidekicks, dogs, and other whatnot with them, said, “You don’t need a Richard Parker.”

“But I’m desolate without him! I can’t be Life of Pi without a Richard Parker!”

Darzin held up one finger to the man, in the intergalactic sign for just a minute.

He asked Holly, “Who or what is a Richard Parker?”

“It’s a tiger,” said Holly.

“Who or what is a tiger?”

“It’s a large carnivore, found in the wild and sometimes in zoos – a place where humans keep animals that belong in the wild.”

“Why –” Darzin halted the questioning before he fell down what humans called a rabbit hole.

Instead, he said, “I can see why you’re reluctant to have one in the Library, even assuming that you could find one.”

“He would look like this,” said the man, pulling a very small tiger-print vest out of a pocket. “My mother made this for my Prattyman superhero doll when I was a boy.” He used it to wipe away his tears.

Saying, “Excuse me. May I?” Holly removed it from his hand before he could blow his nose on it and gave him a large handkerchief with the library’s logo embroidered in one corner.

With a speed that only a Librarian could muster, Holly rescued the alley jammer under threat and worked the vest onto it.

The alley jammer instantly matched the vest’s colors and patterns.

She held the transformed alley jammer out to the weeping man.

“Richard … Richard Parker?” the man said. He took the alley jammer and held it close. The alley jammer, affectionate by nature, cuddled up to him. “Richard Parker!”

Holly gave the man her business card and invited him to apply to the main branch of the Council City Living Library, where he could become Life of Pi for as long as he liked.

Holly and Darzin left Life of Pi in the alley, weeping now in joy, and rejoined the event in the square.

By the end of the day, they were married.

MY PROMPT FOR TODAY: Rewatching Life of Pi, my mother’s favorite book and movie.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “StoryADay May: Holly Heals a Heart

  1. Holly Jahangiri

    May 26, 2024 at 11:18am

    We both know that I am (possibly) biased, but these stories just keep getting better and better.

    That said, WHERE will we find any disinterested parties? We absolutely must, but of course it would be impolite for them to lie about it.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      May 26, 2024 at 11:26am

      Wait, we did! FINALLY! Did you know it was my actual engagement anniversary today?

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
      • Author

        Marian Allen

        May 26, 2024 at 2:09pm

        No! Sometimes I think you invent these synchronicities just to astound me! lol

        Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 26, 2024 at 2:08pm

      Oh, there are bound to be non-readers who have no sort of brush with the law. Just wait and see.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Dan Antion

    May 27, 2024 at 10:43am

    I love a happy ending, and this is a happy ending squared! The library gets a Life of Pi and Holly and Darzin were able to get married.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. acflory

    May 29, 2024 at 5:00pm

    Only you could create such a delightful story arc! You are a natural born storyteller. 😀

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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