Luka remembered the day she sent her first book to the States from the post office on this very same island. It had been February then, too, and she had been all alone, and the clerk had said, “Open it up, I don’t know what ‘manuscript’ means.” Luka had opened it and looked once more at the sentences she had written, which would be traveling so far on their own—sentences this man’s dirty, fat hands were now touching, sentences somehow made vulgar by the fact of his reading them, since they took on whatever meaning he gave to them as he turned the pages and laughed.
“Come on, Luka, I thought you were a serious kind of a girl.”
“That’s what all manuscripts are like.”
“Well then, we might as well send it, right?” And he licked the stamps so thoroughly that his spit soaked the envelope. When Luka went outside it was raining, all the cafés were closed and she had no one to tell, “I just sent my book to America.” She sat on the ground next to a fisherman who was mending his nets.
“I just sent my book to America.”
“Can you help me thread this needle? I can’t see a thing in this damned rain.”
“Sure,” Luka sobbed. “My pleasure.”
And now, sitting before the same paper, with the dog peeing everywhere, with that same winter chill in the air, and the book inside her cracking and rotting, she pulled Alana onto her lap, unscrewed her pen, tilted her head back, held the pen to her mouth, and drank down every last drop of ink—and the book was lost.