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by Sandra M. Odell
Maggie Alvarez leaned against the counter of the dry goods store to get a better look inside John’s satchel. Was that a book beneath the flap? Had to be. Dingy white cover, faded black letters along the cracked spine. All her life she’d watched Lessonkeepers hurl books on the bonfires at purity rallies. Books were illegal, filled with the lies that caused the crumble of the old world.
Her heart sank, then bounced back twice as high. A real book!
She eased her weight off her knotted left foot, and shifted hold on her crutch. “So, John, you planning on settling here for a time?”
He leaned against the other side of the wooden counter. “Nah. Pretty soon I’ll head east to the Missip river and winter over in Nuloreans.”
Maggie didn’t catch her disappointment in time to keep it from her face, and John was quick to add, “I’ll be here for a time yet. People always need their knives sharpened.”
“Of course,” Maggie said, and smiled to hide her relief. “And you’ll be needing supplies.”
Pink touched John’s tanned cheeks and he picked at the edge of the counter top. “Of course.”