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Maria climbs to the upper floor her lithe body a quiet shadow turning the dark corners of the three-decker. She is home here high above the storefronts and bilingual signs in a doll room squeezed against the heavens. Thirteen summers she has rested elbows on its worn windowsills waiting for a sea breeze to sweep across the ocean and tousle her hair. Now as the mills around her swallow brothers, sisters, cousins, she opens a book and searches for the equation that will let her balance the dolls and dresses with her dark-eyed dreams.

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