FathomOnline

 

 Fathom 2003

Cover

 

Inside Cover

 

Poetry

 

Patrick Pearce (2)
Eva Holland (4)
Julie MacManus (2)
Michelle Damour
Myka Tucker Abramsonmn (2)
Jordan Penney
Brad MacDonald
Kate Buttery (3)
Nikiki Martain
Bethany Jost
Joshua Cotton
Jasmine Somers/Angela Day
Chantelle Rip

 

Prose

Morgan Dambergs
David Bain

[PDF]

Morgan Dambergs

 

 

Velveteen

     “‘...But he never knew that it really was his own Bunny, come back to look at the child who had first helped him to be Real. The End.’”
     The class was silent, staring at her. One boy in the front row leaned over and whispered something to his friend, who snickered. Jenna flushed.
     “Thank you, Jenna, you read that very well. You may take your seat.” Jenna nodded at the floor so she would not have to meet Mrs. Bradley’s gaze. She walked back towards her desk, but halfway there she tripped over Ryan Filmoore’s backpack and stumbled, dropping her book. The class giggled.
     “Grade six, that’s enough. You’re old enough to know that laughing at a classmate is not acceptable behaviour. Jenna, please sit down, and we will move on to our science lesson.”
     The rest of the afternoon was spent studying electricity. Jenna slouched down in her seat and pretended she was invisible. She thought maybe it worked, because the teacher never called on her once.
When the bell rang to let school out, Mrs. Bradley asked Jenna to stay behind a minute.
     “Jenna, The Velveteen Rabbit is a lovely story. I know I asked the class to bring their favourite books to School for Read-Aloud, and I can see why you like this one So much. But I’m afraid it isn’t quite… appropriate for a grade six classroom. I was expecting chapter books, like Alicia, who brought one of her Harry Potter novels. Next time your turn comes up, I would like you to choose a book that is more challenging, do you understand?”
     Jenna nodded and hugged her book tight to her chest. She buried her fists in her armpits so Mrs. Bradley wouldn’t see her fingers turn white as she clutched the cover.
     “Jenna? Yes or no, please. Do you understand?”
     “Yes, Mrs. Bradley.”
     “Good. You go on home, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

     Jenna fell in a mud puddle. The Velveteen Rabbit landed beside her. The book floated for a moment until it became too waterlogged and sank to the bottom. It let off air bubbles as though exhaling a dying breath as it drowned.
     Jenna wanted to cry, but she couldn’t. It would only make things worse.
     Craig stepped forward and kicked dirty water into Jenna’s face. She squealed in surprise as grit invaded her eyes and mouth; the water tasted of earth and made her eyes sting terribly. They began to water. She turned to the side and groped blindly for her book, desperate to rescue it and make her escape.
     Craig laughed and kicked out again. This time his foot connected solidly with Jenna’s rump. She sprawled forward into the mud, cracking her chin hard on the concrete sidewalk.
     “Poor Jenna can’t find her baby book?” Craig sneered. “Why don’t you call a fairy to come help you, like in that dumb story you read today? Everyone knows you believe in them, and I’ve seen you talking to flowers on the playground. You’re such a freak, Jenna.”
     Jenna said nothing as she hoisted herself up onto her hands and knees. She groped for the book, certain she had felt it crushed under her when she fell.
     “You stupid or something? Why don’t you ever say anything?”
     Jenna glanced back at Craig and lifted her chin stubbornly. “They are real!”
     “You mean you really do believe in fairies?” Craig crowed with laughter. “I was wrong. You’re not stupid Jenna, you’re just crazy. A real nuthatch.”
     “I’m not! There are fairies! I’ve seen them, and if you haven’t it’s because you’re too stupid, not me.”
     Craig flared with anger and took a menacing step forward. But Jenna had found her book, and she stood and sprinted away before he could get a hold of her again. He started to give chase but dropped off after a few steps, deciding it was easier to wait and seek her out in the schoolyard tomorrow morning. For the moment, he settled for shouting threats at her receding back.
     “You tell anyone about this, I swear I’ll kill you next time, and rip that baby book to pieces, too! You hear me, Nuthatch?”
     Jenna ran.

     She slipped off her robe and pulled on clean, soft pyjamas. Despite some cuts that stung when she soaped them and two very red eyes, she had gotten off easy that afternoon. Others times things had ended worse. Once in a while her ankle still throbbed from the sprain she’d had six months before.
     The Velveteen Rabbit hung over the back of her desk chair, where she’d left it to dry that afternoon. Jenna picked it up and ran her fingers over a page. It was dry, but wrinkled and browned with mud, as though its time in the puddle had aged it ten years in ten minutes.
     Jenna fit the book snugly under her arm and climbed into bed, clearing a space for herself amongst her stuffed animals. She pushed most of them into a pile against the wall, but made sure to extract her favourite, her own stuffed rabbit, from the multitude before she settled down under the sheets.
     Downstairs, her parents were fighting again. No doors had slammed yet, so they would probably to keep at it for a while. Even through her closed door she could hear most of what they were saying, and an unpleasant shock bloomed in her stomach every time she heard her name.
     She bent her knees under the blankets and propped the book against them, holding Bunny with one hand; with the other she opened the book’s cover to its rumpled first page. The inscription had run a little, but Jenna knew it practically by heart and could still make it out.
     “To our Jenna, on her seventh birthday. May all your dreams be made Real. Love, Mama and Daddy.”
     Jenna turned the page and began to read the story. She whispered it aloud to Bunny, who listened with rapt attention, and for a while she couldn’t hear the shouting downstairs and didn’t notice when they said her name.
     When the story was over, Jenna closed the book carefully and laid it on her bedside table. She hoisted her rabbit in the air with both hands, and looked at it sternly.
     “Bunny, you promise me, you promise: if the nursery magic Fairy ever visits you to make you Real, you tell her to come see me, too, okay? You tell her to make me Real, too, just like she does with the Velveteen Rabbit in the book. Because it’s not supposed to be like this. I’m not supposed to be like this. I know. I hear everyone talking, and I know. They all say I’m not right, even Mother and Daddy – but I don’t know how else to be. I need help, so I can be who they want.
     “So promise me, okay?”
     Bunny was silent, but Jenna thought she saw his sewn-on lips tilt upwards in a slight smile, and a glint of love shone inside his black eyes.
Jenna drew him in for a hug, resting her cheek on his threadbare ears. She murmured softly, more to herself than to her toy: “I want so much to become Real.”
     She slid down in bed and turned on her side, Bunny still clutched tight in her arms. Downstairs a door slammed, and a moment later she heard the car start and drive away up the street.
     Jenna reached out and turned off her light.

 

last updated August 17, 2007 | © 2007 Fathom Publishing
poetry, prose, and artwork © individual authours | website created by Alana Paul