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The Warm Fuzzies (by Chris Adrian) / Fiction

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Short story about an African-American foster child who goes to live with a family of Christian musicians…

Her parents always gave the new kids a tambourine and stuck them back with Molly, because it was easy to play the tambourine, though there were intricacies to it that nobody else understood or appreciated, and because she was nice, though she was actually only about half as nice as everyone supposed her to be. The new boy was not very different to look at than any of his predecessors, the black foster brothers and sisters who came and went and came and went, circulating one at a time through her actual family until they were inevitably ejected. She had barely learned to remember Jordan’s name before he was gone, trundled off to a Job Corps assignment in Houston, and now here was Paul, at thirteen years old a little younger than his unmet foster brother once removed, and just as bad with the tambourine. Molly stepped closer to him in the garage and tried to keep the beat in a way that was more obvious and easier to copy, but he didn’t catch on, and though he stayed in tune when he sang, he kept getting the words wrong. “I love you,” Molly sang, coming in with the rest of the family for the chorus. “I love you a lot. I love you more than you can know, but Jesus loves you more more more more!” It wasn’t the hardest refrain to remember, but still he kept singing “I love you so much” instead of “a lot,” and “more than you can imagine” instead of “more than you can know.” It boded ill when they couldn’t get the refrain right on this song. It meant that nothing would be easy for them.

It was useless, though, to worry about them, even at this early stage, when you’d think something could be done to help them out, to make them fit in better, or to defuse the inevitable conflicts that would lead to their being sent back to the pound or shipped off to some other family, or a trade school, or the Marines, or to any number of pseudo-opportunities that were the consolation prize for not actually becoming a member of the musical Carter family of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Molly smiled at Paul, and he nodded coolly at her, which was something different. Usually on the first day, they just gave her a nervous smile, but he seemed to be appraising her somehow, looking her up and down with the nod. Then he turned, swinging his hips one way and his shoulders another, and he gave the same look to her sister Mary where she stood tossing her hair back and forth at the keyboards, using one finger on each hand to play. He did one shake of the tambourine at her—it was out of time—and then at her brother Colin where he was playing the guitar, toward the front of the garage, near their parents. Colin was strumming and dipping from the waist, left and right and left, and hopping in place during the chorus. He was as pale as Molly, and looked sickly, all of a sudden, compared with the new boy. Molly held her breath and closed her eyes and with an effort—it was like squeezing something inside her head—she refrained from thinking something unpleasant about her brother.

Продолжение читайте в журнале English4U №2 (февраль 2011) на который можно подписаться или купить здесь.

21 марта 2011


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