"It just has to be better than sliced bread," she yelled across the room.
There was no reply and frustrated she slammed her pen down on the table. In a huff she got up and thumped her way across the library.
"Are you even listening to me?" She demanded as she got closer, drawing into an aisle of books.
The boy looked up from where he was sitting with his legs draped across the floor. "Of course I am, I'm just choosing to ignore you."
Drawing her arms across her chest, she towered over him.
"Are you here to help me or not?"
He shut the book with a twang and got up, placing his hand on a shelf of fantasy to lift him up.
"Yes, but you'll have better luck thinking about an idea instead of shouting at me all the time." He manoeuvred his way past her and headed back to the table. The library was small, and it didn't take long.
Shaking her head she followed him. The library was empty now and most of the lights had been dimmed. It was late anyway, and the library closed early enough for people to go home and have dinner with their families. She was lucky the boy knew the librarian well, and had let them stay there longer after everyone had left. In the small town, trust was an easy thing.
"Why don't we go over some of your ideas?" The boy said as he reached the table and pulled over some scraps of paper.
"They're all awful." She sat down with a thump, not bothering to look at the paper strewn across the table.
"Dancing pirates, a zebra that has no stripes, talking chocolate?" He screwed up his face. "They're not awful."
"But none of them are even close to being the best thing since sliced bread."
The boy sighed and slumped into a chair. "Why does it even matter if it's better than sliced bread, it's just a story."
She threw her arms up. "It is not just a story. It is a creative writing project which counts for 10% of the year's final grade."
He raised his eyebrows. "You're in year ten, your final grade doesn't even count for anything. You could fail and it would mean nothing."
Yanking over a packet of chips, she tried not to be too exasperated. "What's your story about then?"
"I haven't written it yet."
With a chip dangling off her lips she glared at him in shock. "It's due tomorrow, how have you not written it yet?"
He shrugged. "I'll start writing when you stop fussing. Now c'mon, just write something, anything."
She could tell that his patience was wearing off. He had already put up with her for long enough, and she couldn't blame him. But she needed something good. She needed something better than sliced bread.
"What about," she thought. "Something about a spider that turns everything it bites into gold?"
He cocked his head. "You're overcomplicating it. Don't try to be so crazy, just keep it simple."
"But the teacher said to make it creative."
He leaned over, sighed and started organising all the loose sheets of paper.
"Creativity and crazy are different things. You can be creative without trying to put every crazy little idea in there. You have such a big imagination, but that doesn't mean you can't tap into just a little bit and not be creative."
Picking up a pen, he taps her head.
"Your brain is huge, but don't overthink it."
She pulled over a fresh piece of paper. "Right, okay, I won't overthink it." She knew it would be harder to do than it was to say.
He handed her the pen. "I'm going to get something to eat."
"We have chips."
"Something real, dinner was too long ago."
She watched as he walked across the library, going through the small door on the other side into the staff kitchen. He was a good, she knew that, but sometimes she wished he would let her just go wild. It was stressful not letting the full breadth of her imagination run. Sometimes though it was needed.
Putting the pen onto the page she paused. Not too creative, she thought to herself. This was not going to be easy.
By the time he returned she had written three letters and drawn a sad face.
"Struggling?" He asked.
She only glared at him.
"I've got something that might help." Plonking himself down on the seat he slapped something onto the table.
"A slice of bread?"
He nodded. "You want to write something better than sliced bread right?"
"Of course, there's been nothing better since sliced bread."
"Why?" He flopped the bread in the air. "It's just a piece of bread."
She grabbed it from him. "Sliced bread is the greatest invention ever in mankind. The world went crazy when it came out."
He shrugged. "It's just sliced bread. You can make a piece of toast out of it but that's it. Why wouldn't you want a whole loaf?"
"Yeah," she said, exasperated that now she was talking about bread instead of writing her story. "Sliced bread was so good because it was such a creative idea, but no one can eat a whole loaf of bread, what if you want just one piece. I'd rather one piece of toast for breakfast instead of a loaf. Sometimes less is more."
Smiling, he took the bread from her hand and put it down on top of her page.
"Well if the whole success of sliced bread is that less is more, then if you want to be better than it then lesser is morer."
She raised her eyebrows. "Lesser is morer?"
"People were so impressed with sliced bread because it meant they could enjoy it without having to overdo it. Write your story, don't overdo it."
Opening her mouth, she shut it again. He had a point.
"Okay, " she smiled eventually. "I won't write about talking dolphins or gigantic fingers, lesser is morer."
He placed a fresh piece of paper in front of her.
"I know you can do it."
As she wrote, he picked at the chips and brushed crumbs off the table. The clocked ticked further on past midnight, and the blank pages became filled with words.
"Done." She held the pen up with a flourish.
Scrunching up the finished chips, he smiled tiredly.
"The best thing since sliced bread?"
She giggled. "Even better."
"What'd you end up writing about, it wasn't a hungry fart was it?"
"Nah, something better than that."
Picking up the piece of paper, she held it at arm's length. "Less is morer," she smiled to him.
"C'mon spill, what did you write about?"
Gathering all the pages together, she tapped them into a neat pile.
"The best thing since sliced bread."
"Which is?" He urged.
The boy shook his head, the girl laughed, and together they begun to clean up the mess they had made.
"You didn't actually write about that did you?'
She paused with a piece of paper in her hand. "Nah, but it would've been a ripper story."
Gathering up the last of the papers, he reached over and grabbed the one in her hand. Skimming over it quickly, he smiled.
"And this is better than sliced bread?" He asked.
Picking up the finished chips, she smiled.
"Yeah it is. Now what are you going to write your story about?"
With the town deep at rest, they manoeuvred through the library for the final time that night.
"Maybe I'll go in the opposite direction, I'll write about the worst thing since sliced bread."
She nudged him, and he jostled her back.
"C'mon, be serious."
He put an arm around her shoulder. "I'm gonna write about a brother and sister stuck in a library all night, that's better than any slice of bread."
With two tired smiles, the brother and sister left the library and entered the cold night air. Both knew at the end of the day their stories wouldn't matter, whatever mark they got. However both knew that in the years to come, they would both remember the night they had spent eating chips and tearing through paper in the library; and that, in any creative story, was better than sliced bread.