Solitary Work

a ship in a bottle

Maria slouches near the reference desk squinting through porthole-thick lenses at Little Women. The librarian special-ordered new large-print titles, and Maria prays they arrive before her eleventh birthday. Maria’s mother insists the e-reader’s zoom feature makes it the perfect gift. But what about the smells, the stacks, the Dewey Decimal System, the whispers? There are better places for a girl on a Saturday, mother says. Gustavo, Maria’s defender, is gone.

Why, the family laments, did Gustavo waste his last years alone in the garage? Maria sees: Grandpa’s bottled ships, their toothpick masts and painted thimble crow’s nests, buoyed his spirit.

Amy Lyons has written for LA Weekly, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. She is currently working on a short story collection.

Photo credit: Markus Stöber

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