ABCs, Now You Read by Abbie Doll

As soon as April had a handle on the alphabet, her parents delegated her education to books. On her fifth birthday, they chucked an unwrapped dictionary at her and instructed, No more questions. Use this to look up any words you don’t know and quit bothering us.

And so began her new philosophy of self-sufficiency. Everywhere April went, the dictionary accompanied. It had all the answers she needed; consulting anyone else was taboo. April loved her dictionary but couldn’t shake the feeling that her curiosity was a chronic burden. While the book was great for explaining new words like gallimaufry and potpourri, it could never tackle every last question. April never found any entries explaining her parents’ abrupt change in demeanor. Why couldn’t they interact anymore? On occasion, April still endeavored to ask her mother about a word, but such experiments resulted in wordless points—dictionary.

The loneliness pervaded school too. April’s classmates all teased her about her papery companion; only her language arts teacher, unaware of its gloomy origin, thought the habit adorable. At recess, April felt shunned—sat outside with her head buried in shame, skimming its tear-smudged pages. Determined. Resolved. Tenacious. That was her. April swore to glean as much as she could, ignoring the daily series of stray dodgeballs and uninspired insults.

Unsurprisingly, April’s vocabulary ballooned, but such growth came at a steep price. It meant alienating herself. She longed for normalcy, but books were both her friends and support system. The first time she encountered genuine parental love was by coincidence (in a book)—not at home. She kept reading, hunting for more. Before long, April—convinced it’d count for something on college applications—had read every last book in her local library. It was never too early to buckle down and formulate the future. Books proffered all the world’s scrumptious secrets but could never explain why, to her parents, April was such an intolerable pest.

Biography: Abbie Doll is an eclectic mess of a person who loves exploring the beautiful intricacies of the written word. She resides in Columbus, OH and received her MFA from Lindenwood University; her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Door Is a Jar Magazine, OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L), jmww, among others. Follow her @AbbieDollWrites.