Sunday, March 29, 2009


There were the usual pickings in the mailbox — music and movie magazines for Charlotte and Hannah to fight over, a catalog with way too many pink ponies for Ellie, a mail-order-everything catalog for his parents. An envelope addressed ‘to current resident’ claiming that they may have already won a million (he thought that was how many zeroes it was) dollars.

Beth’s mailbox held some catalogs, several oversized manilla envelopes from what looked like a college, something from some lawyer’s office, and three postcards. One from Nevada, one from New Mexico, and another from Lima, Peru.

Jack gathered it all up and made his way back up to the house. He set the stack for his family down in his dad’s chair, and placed the other stack next to Beth’s toast.

He heard the sound of running water, and she hobbled back from the bathroom, leaning against the wall to keep her balance. Jack held out a hand to help her between the gap from the kitchen doorway to the dining room table, but she hopped past him and slid into her chair.

“I got your… mail,” Jack said, dropping his hand to point at the pile of mail on the table.

Beth looked over the stack, sifting through it. A slight frown creased her brow when she handled the envelope from the law firm. But her eyes brightened when her fingers came to the postcards.

The Nevada one showed a chain link fence, and a sign marked with the government censor blackout lines that still obviously said “WELCOME TO AREA 51.”

Beth smiled as she read the cramped handwriting on the other side. She flipped to the second postcard, and this one showed a barren, sandy landscape, with an obviously fake UFO crashed into the ground.

She laughed, then flipped to the third, depicting a misty mountainous temple somewhere in the Andes. She gasped at what she read there, reread all three, then set them on top of the stack of mail.

“So?” Jack asked. “You’re smiling again. Good news?”

“My dad’s safe. In Peru, helping to translate some stuff they just uncovered.”

“Wow,” Jack breathed. “I’ve never even been out of the state, let alone the country.”

“He says its hot where the plane landed, but cold up where they are. Its a huge, long hike to get there.”

“And… those other ones?”

“Research he’s doing for me.”



“For… you?”


“On… aliens?”

“No, not aliens.”

“So… what then?”


Jack blinked. “Extra what?”

“Beings,” Beth said slowly, “from other dimensions.”

“Other dimensions..? There is no such thing.”

Beth rolled her eyes. “Everybody says that but nobody looks.”

“Its hard to look for something that isn’t there,” Jack said.

“Its there. Its real. Its just... hard for most people to get there.”

“‘Most people’?” Jack asked.

“Never mind. You’re doing it again.”

“Doing what?”

“Being dense! Putting up walls. Disbelieving before you have any of the facts.”

“Look, forget it. Forget I asked, okay? I don’t want to know.” Jack plopped down in his chair at the table.

Beth stood up from hers, scooping up the pile of mail. She turned, and hobbled down the length of the table.

“Wait, where are you going?” Jack asked, sitting up straight.

“I’m going home.” She didn’t bother putting her shoes on, just picked them up and hopped out the front door, leaning heavily on the porch railing to make her way down the steps.

She limped heavily across the gravel drive, scampering a bit to avoid the station wagon as it rumbled up the Jacobs’ side. Jack stood in the front doorway, struggling into his shoes as his parents came up the steps.

“What's that all about?” Jack’s dad asked, looking over towards the break in the hedgerow where the girl had disappeared.

“Lover’s quarrel?” Charlotte asked.

“She shouldn’t be on that leg at all,” Jack’s mother said.

“I know, Mom, I know,” Jack said. He vaulted over the porch railing, avoiding the steps entirely, and sprinted across the yard.

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