by Darren Greer
An imaginative and resonant work of speculative literature from ReLit Award-winning author Darren Greer. Twin brothers, born on an oppressive family farm, discover a miraculous way to escape the dreariness of their lives, charting a course that promises equal measures of wonder and heartbreak.
DALTON LIKED TO GO when there was no moon. I, on the other hand, would have liked to fly across the face of the moon — to turn and plummet through the moonlight down to the river, to catch myself just before I tumbled in, to will myself to hover. I would have tried it, but Dalton wouldn't let me.
He was older, but only by seven minutes.
The number seven is important, he said.
There are seven spots on a ladybug's back.
Seven days in a week.
A mammal's neck has seven bones.
Dalton was smart. His teachers said he had the highest scores they’d ever seen.
We often wondered what it was in the seven minutes that made such a difference. What happened to him while he was out? What happened to me while I was in? Because we discussed it so much, I could see myself inside my mother. Feel myself there, enveloped in her, floating, flying even then, as Dalton — bawling and flecked with gore — was being born, being laid on a table, being sterilized and swabbed clean for this new world.
“I remember it,” he said.
Our parents were scared of us.
My father spent all his time in the fields and the barn, and my mother yelled at us when she heard us talking about black holes and non¬linear equations and growing pumpkins the size of houses by tinkering with their genes. “It's not normal,” she said, “and it's not right.”
Dalton said they were superstitious. “They believe in God,” he said, as if that was all the proof he needed.
WHEN WE FLEW WE had to get comfortable.
That was the trick of it, the key.
We would lie on our backs in bed and just breathe.
Dalton said we could do it because of something in our brains.
“More of them is turned on than other peoples’,” he said. “The way that we know more and see more — that’s part of it too.”
Dalton first told me he could do it when we were nine. I didn't believe him. I thought he was making it up. Morning after morning he'd wake up and tell me where he'd been the night before, how far he flew, and he was puzzled because I couldn't do it too. He got me to lie in bed and reach out and hold his hand when we fell asleep so that he could take me with him. But I just slept.
One night, I suddenly awoke and Dalton was standing above me. He was smiling.
“Get up,” he said.
“Why?” I said.
“Because we're going to do it.”
“It's dumb,” I said. “I can't do it.”
“Get up,” he said. When I did, he told me to look back at my bed.
I saw myself lying there. And even though Dalton was standing in front of me, I could also see him lying on his bed.
“You see?” he said.
about the author
DARREN GREER grew up in several towns in Nova Scotia, including Greenfield and Liverpool. He studied literature at the University of King¹s College, Halifax, as well as Carleton University, Ottawa. His first novel, Tyler’s Cape, was published in March 2001 to critical acclaim and was on the bestseller list of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. Still Life with June was nominated for the Pearson Readers’ Choice Award at The Word On The Street, Toronto, in 2003 and is the Winner of the 2004 ReLit Award. His latest novel is Just Beneath My Skin, published by Cormorant Books.
from the library
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— National Post on The Hunter and the Wild Girl
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— The Globe and Mail on Into the Heart of the Country, longlisted for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize
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— The Globe and Mail on Beyond Measure, finalist for the 2004 Giller Prize and the 2004 Commonwealth Writers' Prize
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