NIEHAUS-HARD

No Frigate
by Amanda Hard

Monsoon season came early the year of my eleventh birthday. Instead of summer carnivals and fairs, I got my Uncle. An old man in a tweed hat, he came with the rain to collect me from my mother’s house and take me to his. He gave me a heavy suitcase with no rollers, so I had to drag it to the sun porch where I was to sleep.

While Uncle made tea, I opened the case. Inside were paperbacks laid like brickwork, their covers illustrating spaceships and dragons. They smelled of cardamom and earth, spicy and magic. I chose one and turned the first page.

That year, instead of fried bread and snow cones, I ate elven bread and dragon stew, soaking up stories as the black ground soaked up the rains. I read all but one during my stay, but he let me take it home.

Years later I toured the world. I saw a real spaceship in Florida and sailed a wooden dragon boat in Iceland, but I never traveled as far as I did the year the summer rains came early and I read my way through Uncle’s books.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author reading under a sunshade in Southern Indiana.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Even as an adult, I can’t imagine a vacation that doesn’t include an armful of books. I have sometimes marked important places in my life by the books read while I was there. It seemed only fitting to write this piece about the summer I discovered the glory of Rivendell and the grandeur of Barsoom.

amandahardphoto

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amanda Hard is a former journalist and magazine editor who received her BFA in creative writing from the University of Evansville. A 2015 finalist for Glimmer Train’s “New Writer Award,” her fiction has appeared in (or is forthcoming from) Ruthless Peoples Magazine, several flash fiction anthologies from the Daily Nightmare, two volumes of the State of Horror series from Charon Coin Press, and the anthology Idolators of Cthulhu from Alban Lake Press. She lives in the cornfields of southern Indiana, where she still enjoys reading in the rain.