Reading Rosemary

The reading of Rosemary and Time was today. There were seven readers in total, not including Kathy Stinson herself. The collection was an ecclectic mix. There was a spiritual journal; a charming story about an Italian-Canadian family; a children's poem; a very powerful set of poems about ovarian cancer; and a section of a young adult novel about bullying and suicide; and more.

I read sixth. I was nervous, but I think I did all right. I read about four pages from chapter three (where Rosemary and Peter meet Puck for the first time) covering the bit where Rosemary and Peter take a good look at the book Theo has caught his nose in. I got a couple of laughs, and a few people asked me how things would turn out.

This was what I read:

The house was still asleep. Rosemary was surprised to find that it was only eight o'clock. She felt too wide-awake for it to be this early on a Sunday. Even Shamus was quiet as he followed them up the stairs. Rosemary led the way to Theo's room.

She pushed open the door. Theo was sitting up in bed, staring into his book. He looked up.

"Hello, Rosie," said Theo, as distant as ever. "Who's your friend?"

"You've met Peter," said Rosemary, shutting the door behind her.

"Really?" said Theo.

"Yes, the day you came home. He was over for dinner."

"You brought home a guest for dinner? Good for you." He turned back to his book.

Shamus whimpered. Rosemary patted him. She and Peter crept forward and leaned across the bed to peer at the cover of Theo's book. Rosemary blinked. There was no title on the spine.

"It's not a book," she said. "It's a journal; a blank journal!"

Peter peered over Theo's shoulder. "Something's been typed in it." Theo turned the page. The new page started blank, but text appeared in the top left corner and streamed down the paper. "Something's being typed into it right now!"

"What?" Rosemary reached for Theo's book.

Theo snapped out of his trance. He pulled the book to his chest. "Rosemary, no!"

She gripped the book by its spine. "Theo, let me see."

Theo shook his head. He wrenched the book back. With a tremendous yank, Rosemary pulled the book out of Theo's grasp.

"No!" Theo's voice choked off.

Rosemary looked at the pages and saw a line saying "Rosemary looked at the pages and saw a line saying dRosemary looked at the pages and saw a line saying dRosemary looked at the pages and saw a line saying dRosemary looked at the pages and saw--"

Peter tore the book from her hands.

Rosemary staggered back and covered her eyes.

There was a tapping at the window. Puck's face was centred upside down in the frame, hanging by his feet from the roof. He waved.

Peter opened the window, but Puck did not come in. Instead, he said, "Do you believe me, Rosemary?"

"What the--What happened?" Rosemary gasped, wincing and rubbing her temples.

"I don't know," said Peter. He picked up the book by one cover as though it were something toxic. "You just stared into the pages, and you... froze. You just stood there. I couldn't reach you."

"How long?" asked Rosemary.

"Long enough," said Peter. He thought a moment. "A minute. You didn't even blink."

Rosemary screwed her eyes tighter. No wonder they hurt.

Peter opened the book.

"Peter, be careful!"

Peter shook his head. "Don't worry, I was just reading it. Maybe it doesn't affect me." He pulled open the pages, and flipped to the last page of writing. The text was still scrolling down. He frowned.

"It's listing what I've said--what I'm saying right now," he said. He flipped back a few pages. "And here we are talking to Puck in the snow." He grimaced. "Here I am screaming. It's all written from your point of view." Realization struck him and he closed the book just as Rosemary was creeping up to peer over his shoulder. "When you looked at the pages as they were written, you started a literal feedback loop."

"Theo has been reading the world from your eyes, Rosemary," said Puck through the window. "Look at your brother now."

Rosemary looked up, and then darted forward. "Theo?" She shook her brother by the shoulder. He stared blankly ahead. "Theo!"

"Give him the book," said Puck. "It is his only link to us."

Rosemary pressed the book into Theo's hands. She felt his fingers tighten against the covers. His eyes lowered, and he began to read.

Rosemary held his hands a moment before letting go. "I'm responsible for this?"

"No!" Peter touched her shoulder. "How could you be?"

Puck shook his head. "You are not the fault, but you are the cause. Because they could not get at you, they stole away your kin."

Rosemary turned to the window. "Who stole him? Who are these people? What do I have to do to get Theo back?"

"It won't be easy, Rosemary," said Puck. "You will face dangers only your imagination could dream of."

"I don't have an imagination," said Rosemary.

"Of course you do. What else would be attacking you?"

Rosemary stared at Puck, her mouth agape. Then she looked at Theo and drew herself up. "What do I have to do to bring Theo back?"

"Come with me to the Land of Fiction," said Puck. "I shall be your guide and Peter your defender, if he be brave enough."

Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and it was good to meet all of the people who showed up and those who read. My parents were out for moral support, and I think I impressed them. Again, I would like to thank Kathy and the Kitchener Public Library for the opportunity to read some of my writing in public.

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