Out of This World

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Authors: Charles De Lint
would ever know I was there.”
    â€œDude, I’m not walking around school with a mouse or a lizard in my pocket.”
    â€œPlease please please please.”
    I shake my head again. “It’s just not going to happen.”
    She looks so dejected I almost change my mind. Then she brightens up.
    â€œI know,” she says. “I’ll change into a pebble. You don’t mind carrying a pebble around in your pocket, do you?”
    â€œYou can do that?”
    â€œOf course I can, dude . But you’ll have to wake me up when it’s okay for me to be a girl again.”
    â€œA pebble.”
    The physics of a human being turning into a rat or a bird isconfusing enough for me to get my head around, but this seems off-the-charts impossible.
    â€œWhy is that so strange?” she asks.
    â€œWell, it’s just—I mean, come on. A pebble.” That makes me think of something else. “Are you telling me everything’s sentient?”
    â€œEverything has a spirit, silly. How else could it know what it is?”
    â€œI have to tell you, I’m having trouble wrapping my head around this.”
    She shrugs. “It’s just the way things are. Everybody knows that.”
    â€œSo you’re going to turn into a pebble.”
    â€œYes. But you have to remember to wake me up later because when we take shapes like that, we can lose ourselves in them unless there’s someone around to call us back.”
    â€œAnd all of you can do this?”
    â€œOh no,” she says. “Only the very smartest and tricksiest
    of us.”
    â€œOkay.” It’s not really okay, but every time she explains it to me it gets a little weirder. So I settle for agreeing and ask instead, “So how do you wake up a pebble?”
    â€œOh, that’s easy. Just tap me against a wall or something.”
    â€œTap you …”
    â€œNow, hold out your hand, palm up.”
    â€œWait a minute,” I start, but I do as she says.
    Before I can go on she leaps into the air, changing as she does. There’s a confusing flicker of strobing images as the normal-sized girl shifts and becomes something else. A momentlater a pebble lands in the palm of my hand. Except with my double vision, I see both a pebble and Donalita curled up like a baby. I reach out with a finger. All I can feel is the hard surface of the pebble.
    So maybe it’s a pebble, but it’s also Donalita, and the whole thing creeps me out. I slide it carefully into my pocket, but keep reaching in to make sure the pebble’s still there. I want to give it a rub with my thumb the way you do with that kind of thing, until I remember that it’s also a tiny Donalita, and somehow, that would just be wrong.
    I’m still quietly freaking out about it when I get to school. For a change, I’m happy to be here because at least I’ll be able to talk to Marina about the latest weirdness going on.
    Before I can go inside, Bobby White, one of the Ocean Avers, steps in front of me, blocking my way.
    â€œTheo wants a word with you,” he says.
    He nods to where Chaingang’s sitting on his usual picnic table under the eucalyptus trees, shades on, shaved head gleaming. Great. Now everybody’s going to think I’m a drug dealer, too.
    Two weeks ago I’d have thought it was cool having Chaingang want to talk to me. Now it’s just a pain in the butt. What does Marina even see in him?
    But you don’t turn your back on a summons from the big guy.
    Chaingang lifts his shades as I walk up and gives me a nod.
    â€œWhat’s up, bro?” he asks, then he studies me, an odd look in his eyes. “There’s something different about you—like you’re a Wildling and you’re not, all at the same time.”
    â€œThat’s because I’ve got Donalita in my pocket.”
    â€œYou’ve got—”
    â€œDon’t even ask, dude.”
    He lets the shades

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