Magical Realism

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The Life and Deaths of Frankie D.
Excerpt

Chapter Four

“Frankie?” Mr. Kurtis stared down at me. “You okay?” The bell had gone for next period, but I hadn’t moved.

I took a breath. “Yeah. Just thinking about something.” Between my long skirt, my clunky black boots, and Max’s weird behaviour, I wobbled a little getting to my feet.

“You sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah. Hey, uh, that kid, the new one who came to class with me. Do you know anything about him?”

Mr. Kurtis frowned at me. “New kid?”

If he told me there wasn’t a new kid, I was going to pass out. What if Kris was right and all the crap I’d gone through as a kid had come back to haunt me? Maybe I was having a psychotic break or something. Panic rose in me as I waited for Mr. Kurtis to respond. “He sat beside me in class,” I said, to jog his memory.

“Oh, yeah. What about him?”

I gave a relieved exhalation. “He looked familiar. Do you know what school he used to go to?”

Mr. Kurtis shook his head. “I didn’t even know I was getting a new student.”

Except for a few stragglers, the hallway was empty.

“You’d better get to class.” He wrote something on a piece of paper and handed it to me with a grin. “Say it’s my fault you’re late.”

I looked for Max for the rest of the week. Scoured the cafeteria, the halls, the library, the stoner hangout doors — anywhere I thought he might go. Every kid wearing a hoodie got a second glance, but I never found him.

If he was a foster kid, it was possible he’d been placed with a new family. Sometimes there was no warning. The social worker just showed up, and as soon as you were packed up, you left. Maybe that was what had happened to Max.

But his disappearance had left me with questions. How had he known my real name? And why did we both dream about the same person? Max had said the man’s name was Monsieur Duval, but how did he know that? The whole thing irked me.

All week, the dream kept coming, but small things changed each night. Sometimes I woke up with an extra detail still clear in my head. I got in the habit of leaving my sketchbook on my nightstand. With the image fresh in my mind, I’d reach for my sketchbook and draw whatever I’d seen in my dream. This morning, Monsieur Duval, as I’d come to think of him, had held his arms up in the air, as if to draw the audience’s attention. He’d had an Egyptian ankh tattooed on his wrist. It seemed like a strange choice for a man like him.

I caught myself. I was thinking about him as if he were real, filling in his personality where there was none. I didn’t know anything about him. Why would I know what kind of tattoo he would get?

“It’s just a dream,” I mumbled to myself. “It’s not real.”

 

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The Greats
Excerpt

The Guyana night breeze, fresh from the ocean and rich from the jungle, slips into the exhibit hall through the gaps in the plastic sheeting. It inches around — exploring, discovering new territory, taking up new space.
It winds its way around Gather’s tree-trunk legs, then swirls over her strong belly and shoulders. It breathes a thousand scents into her nostrils. A thousand tastes dance on her tongue.
It whispers in her ears, “Come out!”
Gather smells and tastes and hears.
And wakes up.
Jomon feels a flutter of hope in his chest. There is a way out, after all.
He looks around the cell for an escape route.
There is a place where the bars in the door meet the bars in the wall. A crossbar, a place to tie something. He has no rope, but his school uniform shirt might do, especially if he tears it and twists it so it is like a rope. He could also, maybe, use his trousers, but he doesn’t want to be found in just his underwear.
Jomon takes off his shirt. He bites into the threads that hold the hem together, then rips the shirt right up the back.
Now he has something he can use.
“It won’t be that easy,” says a voice.
Jomon is startled. He looks in the direction of the voice.
It is coming from a boy, about his age, sitting in the cell across the hall from him.

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