Looks delicious," he lied. "A mite crispy along the edges - but then, I like it that way."Incredulous eyes met his own. "You like your potatoes burned?"Ah, so he'd been right about that. If he could still recognize what it was she'd cooked, then surely he could eat it.
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Looks delicious,” he lied. “A mite crispy along the edges – but then, I like it that way.”Incredulous eyes met his own. “You like your potatoes burned?”Ah, so he’d been right about that. If he could still recognize what it was she’d cooked, then surely he could eat it.

-Tracy Anne

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The plane banked, and he pressed his face against the cold window. The ocean tilted up to meet him, its dark surface studded with points of light that looked like constellations, fallen stars. The tourist sitting next to him asked him what they were. Nathan explained that the bright lights marked the boundaries of the ocean cemeteries. The lights that were fainter were memory buoys. They were the equivalent of tombstones on land: they marked the actual graves. While he was talking he noticed scratch-marks on the water, hundreds of white gashes, and suddenly the captain's voice, crackling over the intercom, interrupted him. The ships they could see on the right side of the aircraft were returning from a rehearsal for the service of remembrance that was held on the ocean every year. Towards the end of the week, in case they hadn't realised, a unique festival was due to take place in Moon Beach. It was known as the Day of the Dead......When he was young, it had been one of the days he most looked forward to. Yvonne would come and stay, and she'd always bring a fish with her, a huge fish freshly caught on the ocean, and she'd gut it on the kitchen table. Fish should be eaten, she'd said, because fish were the guardians of the soul, and she was so powerful in her belief that nobody dared to disagree. He remembered how the fish lay gaping on its bed of newspaper, the flesh dark-red and subtly ribbed where it was split in half, and Yvonne with her sleeves rolled back and her wrists dipped in blood that smelt of tin.It was a day that abounded in peculiar traditions. Pass any candy store in the city and there'd be marzipan skulls and sugar fish and little white chocolate bones for 5 cents each. Pass any bakery and you'd see cakes slathered in blue icing, cakes sprinkled with sea-salt.If you made a Day of the Dead cake at home you always hid a coin in it, and the person who found it was supposed to live forever. Once, when she was four, Georgia had swallowed the coin and almost choked. It was still one of her favourite stories about herself. In the afternoon, there'd be costume parties. You dressed up as Lazarus or Frankenstein, or you went as one of your dead relations. Or, if you couldn't think of anything else, you just wore something blue because that was the colour you went when you were buried at the bottom of the ocean. And everywhere there were bowls of candy and slices of special home-made Day of the Dead cake. Nobody's mother ever got it right. You always had to spit it out and shove it down the back of some chair. Later, when it grew dark, a fleet of ships would set sail for the ocean cemeteries, and the remembrance service would be held. Lying awake in his room, he'd imagine the boats rocking the the priest's voice pushed and pulled by the wind. And then, later still, after the boats had gone, the dead would rise from the ocean bed and walk on the water. They gathered the flowers that had been left as offerings, they blew the floating candles out. Smoke that smelt of churches poured from the wicks, drifted over the slowly heaving ocean, hid their feet. It was a night of strange occurrences. It was the night that everyone was Jesus......Thousands drove in for the celebrations. All Friday night the streets would be packed with people dressed head to toe in blue. Sometimes they painted their hands and faces too. Sometimes they dyed their hair. That was what you did in Moon Beach. Turned blue once a year. And then, sooner or later, you turned blue forever.

-Rupert Thomson

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It was so awful! And he kept on looking at me and I knew I must get out of bed or he'd come and touch me. I did, too, but when I got out I wasn't me-I was a little white bunny. And he started out of the room and I had to go with him for fear he'd touch me. It felt so horrid, going out with him and looking back at mother there asleep."We went into the main part of the house, and one of the big front doors was open, and we went out through it. And then he gave a big jump, and so did I, and it took us clear up into the sky. We couldn't fly, but we kept jumping and jumping."Sometimes we stayed in the sky a little while, jumping from cloud to cloud, and the moon would get closer and closer and bigger and bigger, and its face would change and get horrible and grin at us until it seemed like its mouth was a mile wide and open, to swallow us up. And then we'd come down again and jump from one cliff to another, and the sea would be roaring down under us, and the waves all grey and cold and moving around and boiling like they were mad or afraid."We went all over the island and sometimes we jumped over the sea to the mainland and back again; and sometimes I tried to get away and run back to Mother - I thought she'd know me even if I was a bunny - but always, whichever way I turned, the hare was there in front of me, and his teeth were shining."We kept it up all night, and I was so tired and cold and miserable, and so scared. I didn't know whether he would ever let me go home or whether he would take me to Aunt Sarai. Then finally I did get away and the hare chased me!"She broke off, her voice rising again to a wail."It was so awful! I ran all over the island, into all sorts of queer little places that I never knew were there before - it seems so different after dark - and finally, when two or three times I'd been so tired that I thought I just couldn't go any farther, before he caught me, I saw the house in front of me and the front door still open and I started to run in, and then I thought - what if they'd planned it that way, and Aunt Sarai had come down from her portrait and was inside there in the dark, waiting for me?

-Evangeline Walton

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