Let Nothing You Dismay
When Elissa woke, ever so gently, not admitting to herself that she had been asleep, she reached for the box under her pillow and, finding it there as always, was not afraid. She thought for a little while of how she never slept, never—and they would not believe her; and then fishing her Dick Tracy tommy gun out from beneath the bed, she pulled the trigger carefully, not making the rat-a-tat-tat, but only lighting the little red glare at the tip. Fire! The room blushed fitfully, blinked like an eye in the intermittent flame: under the lid, the cracked faces of dolls, the brutal shadows of half-disabled toys. Fire! The jumble of a child’s room, half ghetto, half jungle, seemed to her to leap with the lunge of flame at her bed, at her. Fire! She dropped the gun, and the dark, cool as Roy Rogers, rescued her: thumpa, thumpa, thumpa—the hooves dying—dying—. The end.
It was then that she realised that she had been hearing the voice of Mrs. Jovanich, its musical whine, the words strangely altered, to which grown-ups for some reason listened so intently. “It’s like The Castle! Two blocks I have to go—and I am lost! For hours I walk—and then the endless same houses!” Mrs. Jovanich always said things were like duh Kessel and once, when Elissa had asked her father about it, he had laughed and shown her the book, the picture of the man who wrote it.
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