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--- D O R I A N N E   L A U X

You're standing on the high school steps, the double doors swung closed behind you for the last time, not the last time you'll ever

be damned or praised by your peers, spoken of in whispers, but the last time you'll lock your locker, zip up your gym bag, put on your out-of-style jacket,

your too-tight shoes. You're about to be done with it: the gum, the gossip, the worship of a boy in the back row, the histories of wheat and war,

cheat sheets, tardies, the science of water, negative numbers and compound fractions. You don't know it yet but what you'll miss

is the books, heavy and fragrant and frayed, the pages greasy, almost transparent, thinned at the edges by hundreds of licked thumbs.

What you'll remember is the dumb joy of stumbling across a passage so perfect it drums in your head, drowns out

the teacher and the lunch bell's ring. You've stolen A Tree Grows in Brooklyn from the library. Lingering on the steps, you dig into your bag

to touch its heat: stolen goods, willfully taken, in full knowledge of right and wrong. You call yourself a thief. There are worse things

you think, fingering the cover, tracing the embossed letters like someone blind. This is all you need as you take your first step

toward the street, joining characters whose lives will unfold at your touch. You follow them into the blur of the world. Into whoever you're going to be.

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