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A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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Fictions and Fallacies

“Oh, my God,” said Carley. “Oh, my God.”

“Yes?”

“You be quiet, you. Mother. Listen.

That must be—

Mother, is that why—

Wow. Mother, remember those books

I read when I was a kid? That series?

About, you know, about friendships around the world?”

“‘Forever Friends.’ Sally and . . .Oh, yes, I remember.”

“You hated those books, didn’t you.”

“Yup.”

“Because of Juanita, right?”

“Yup.” Every one of them had on the cover, a charming

picture of two children—little white

middle-class American small-city Sally with one

minority kid after another, a “different” kid each time.

Sally with a big-city girl, Sally with a country girl,

Sally with a black girl, an Indian, an Asian—

And every time, they become best friends.

“Every time! I mean, really. Every time?

I swear, Carley, no one ever had

as many best friends as Sally. You couldn’t put them all

in a room together, cause even if they didn’t

kill each other, they wouldn’t fit. Though I suppose the first

problem would solve

     the second: removing the dead bodies would make room

for new live ones.”

“Mother!”

“Sorry.”

“Most kids don’t want their friends to shock their mom;

with me, it’s the reverse. I’m afraid

to introduce my mother to my friends

for fear you’ll shock the ever-living daylights

out of them.”

               “Flatterer,” I said.

“But, back to those books—they made it look

     so easy, crossing cultural barriers.”

“And you knew it wasn’t.”

“Yup. It’s not as though it always

               works out.”

“Maybe they wanted to show that it can ever

               work out.”

“I know, I know. A good cause and all that. But I don’t think

     a good cause gets much help from

     such simplistic books.”

She was quiet a minute, and then she said this:

“Sally always reminded me of you, a little.”

“What!”

“Well, your best friend in high school was Hispanic, and

     your best friend in nursing school was black, and then

     you, a sort-of city girl, from the west coast, married

     a rancher from the west. I mean . . .”

She shrugged.

I blinked.

“But she was so sweet all the time, she always got along

     with everyone—“

“Oh, well, yes, you’re right, in that way you’re totally different.”

I threw my napkin at her.

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