by Lilith McFarlin
I haven’t shaved in so long, I just found an entire bag of Fritos in my beard. Ever since I was furloughed from my job at the mannequin factory, all I’ve been doing is reading books on Libby and grunting at my daughter, Penelope, to bring me more Fritos. She’s only here on the weekends, but somehow the chips keep coming. Some people might find this disturbing, but why look a gift horse in the mouth?
Even though I don’t miss mistaking our especially realistic mannequins for coworkers and having to ask the same questions over and over again until I find a real person, I miss my sense of purpose I get at my job. I’ve filled that emotional canyon with unemployment checks and e-books. I still miss having a physical book to hold in my hands—perhaps occasionally whispering sweet nothings into its spine. I heard that my beloved Laman Library is beginning curbside service soon, but I’m not sure when it will start.
I get a conveniently-timed phone call. It’s good ol’ [name redacted], telling me my hold has come in. All I have to do is schedule a time that I can come in and pick up my book. I choose first thing in the morning when it’s cool, because I am an exceptionally sweaty man. How many times a day can I realistically change shirts? I ask them how I can be sure that the books are safe with the pandemic and all. They tell me that the books are quarantined upon their return, so I don’t have to worry about infecting Penelope who has asthma, making her high-risk.
All I have to do now is wait for my time to park at Laman so I can call them so they’ll leave my books on the table by the front door. Now I just need to do something about this beard so they don’t look out the window and think I’m someone else, trying to steal my own checkouts. I, of course, will be wearing my face mask.