Excerpt from Biblioburro by Marisa Handler

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The following short story appears in our Autumn 2016 issue. The entire issue is available for immediate download.

We wait at the edge of our pueblo, on the road that leads into the mountains and across rivers and finally, they say, to Bogota, the great city to which all roads in the country twist like veins to a heart. But here it is a little road, dusty in summer and muddy in winter, winding like a stream, like it has nowhere important to go. Miguel says it gets wider, that it grows and straightens and then carries you on its hard black back to places much bigger than El Brasil, places where the children walk to a library with shiny white walls, places even where they buy their own books from stores filled with them, bring them home to shelves made especially for books. I nearly don’t believe anyone has shelves only for books. But I trust Miguel, because he is like an uncle to me. One day I want to walk down this road, follow it until it grows big and sure. When I told Mama that she laughed like I made a joke and said Espera, niña, till you have your own children to feed.

“Maybe he’s not coming today,” says Jimena, when the sky goes from blue to purple and the stars peep out. She crosses one foot over the other and twirls in a circle. Then she puts her hands on my face and turns it so I’m looking at her. Shoots of hair poke out of her two braids. She lifts her eyebrows and pulls her lips tight over her triangle front tooth. “Maybe Alfa is sick.”

Short story by Marisa HandlerMARISA HANDLER is the author of the award-winning memoir Loyal to the Sky, and her essays, articles, fiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous publications. She earned her MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has received multiple fellowships in Creative Writing, including a Fulbright and an Elizabeth George Foundation grant. She teaches Creative Writing at Mills College. Marisa is also a performing and recording singer-songwriter. More at www.marisahandler.com.

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