"I laughed, cried, felt the urgency . . . the story will take you to another dimension of 'ahhh' moments of reflection and insight that will 'gotcha.' I could read this book again and again and get something more. I enjoyed i from the second I began to read."

"A thick slice of MaryAnn Easley pie. Oozing UFOs, sweet on science, and warm with fantasy. This veteran children's writer's many young fans should be satiated.....for now!"

Friday, February 12, 2016


Portal to Other Dimensions

When Jack came through my forest, I asked him, “Why do you look so unhappy?”
He scowled. “My life isn’t easy, you know.”
Neither is mine, I wanted to say, but my heart squeezed. I’m a sucker when it comes to Jack. The tiresome game never ends, but I closed my book and tried to be gentle. “I guess Abeyance is nothing like Alon.”
“Not in the least,” he said with a look that implied it’s my fault he’s stuck in a holding place. I wish I could say I’m innocent, but I’m not.
Showing off, he raised his hand and moved his ngers in a way that caused light to illuminate the trees in my forest. He managed to create a musical broadcast minus a radio with visible sounds in whirling colors and arching rainbows that seemed to spell out my name: Allana Odette Blair. I felt as if I’d stepped inside a 3-D movie, dreamlike and magical. 
Of course, seeing how much I loved the show, he took it all away by flicking a nger. Sweet revenge. 
“Gotcha,” he said.
Sweet Revenge

Disappointed and angry, I lashed out at him, “Why should I care?” I said. “You’re nothing to me. You don’t even exist.”
He smiled that crooked smile that always broke my heart.
I reached for him, but he moved out of reach and vanished into thin air.
That’s how it is with Jack, how it has been ever since our sixth birthday, and for years, I’ve had to tell myself that he’s dead. Dead!
We thought we’d rule the Land of Alon as Oliver and Odette.
The news of his death spread like ash along Oak Street, oating throughout the neighborhood and all over Los Angeles. It ltered out over telephone lines and drifted in gossip above backyard fences.
Soon everyone knew how Jack had died. As the years passed, my classmates became messengers who carried the story into junior high and high school. There’s Allana Odette Blair, the girl who killed her own twin brother.
It’s the truth.
Jack’s dead and buried in the rose garden behind Oak Street Church. He lies in a box under dirt with my Teddy bear, his name carved into a block of stone - John Oliver Blair, December 7, 1935 - December 7, 1941.
He’s dead, and yet, he lives!
 Even though he’s stuck in Abeyance, I’ve seen him a few times, not as a ghost but as a real boy grown tall and handsome and dressed in sky blue, a silver belt, and matching boots. He’s been at the oak tree dozens of times, and I’ve seen him walking the hallways at City High. Mostly, however, he comes at night through the redwood forest I painted on the walls of my room.
Mom refuses to speak of him and insists what I see is only a dream, so before I try to sleep, I pray to God for a dreamless night. Please, please, dear God, let me forget the awful thing I did.
It’s been years, however, and I’ll never forget. I can’t help Jack escape Abeyance either, because I don’t know how to let him go. My prayer is like a defective eraser. No matter how many times I erase, the details of that day remain as vivid as ever.
December 7, 1941 was our sixth birthday. As she started mixing batter for our cake, Mom turned on the radio. Sunday afternoon music was interrupted with news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Hawaii was a territory of the United States and that was too close to home. In Washington DC, President Franklin Roosevelt announced war, and war was exactly what Jack and I needed.
December 7, 1941 - Pearl Harbor

At six, our good-guy, bad-guy games had grown dull. Gun ghts at the Blair corral left me too quickly dead. I despised being an Injun to Jack’s cowboy, a black knight to his white. We played using our middle names, Oliver and Odette, but no matter the weapon—wooden pistols or cap guns, daggers or swords—he always caught me unaware, stepping on my shadow to steal my soul. Odette, the better warrior, was inevitably slain, my promise to Mom and my sacri ce for being born bigger and stronger and a girl.
In a panic, Mom and Dad grabbed us and rushed back to Oak Street Church. We found neighbors praying, listening to the radio, and wringing their hands. War was no joke; it was real. Dad joined the men as they constructed courage in the sanctuary. Mom helped the women prepare coffee in the kitchen. Jack and I made swords out of Reverend Macabee’s yardsticks from Ole’s and National Lumber. We whittled the ends with Dad’s pocketknife and used silver and gold paint meant for the Christmas pageant to cover the inch marks. Then we hid our weapons under bushes at the park.
My blood boiled for revenge. I relished the taste of patriotism in my mouth. I wanted to strike out and kill an enemy. Pearl Harbor, after all, was practically a part of the United States of America.
When church deacons decided that war was no discussion for women and children, Jack and I raced back to the park to retrieve our weapons.
It was time for a duel. In spite of Mom’s renewed warning to let Jack win—you may be bigger and stronger, Allana, but he’s the boy, after all—I pleaded to be Odette, the mighty all-American girl warrior, and I assigned him the lesser role of dirty-rotten yellow-bellied no-good bomb- dropping Japanese coward.
We quarreled. “I don’t wanna be a dirty Jap,” he bellowed. He was Oliver, he insisted, and destined to be King of Alon, a paradise much like Hawaii from all that Great-Aunt Grace had told us.
Heavy with the weight of war, I revealed that Alon was only a made-up story. “Everyone knows that there’s no such place,” I said.
Red in the face, Jack sneered as he raised his sword over his head. With a brutal cry, he brought it down hard on an unlucky lizard, cutting it in half.
Mom was standing a short distance away, shielding her eyes as she watched the sky for enemy planes. Even so, she overheard. “Leave him be, Allana. Let Jack have his way. He’s the boy and the rightful heir to the throne.”
I despised being second, always the girl, giving in, and always the loser. Sagging with her betrayal, I lowered my sword. My enemy attacked, stomping on my shadow to steal my soul. “Gotcha!”
That’s how the game is played. Thinking he’d won, he dropped his guard, and I saw my chance, moved in fast, and lunged, striking him hard. Gotcha back!
Killing a brother is killing yourself.

To my surprise, he lost his footing, slipped on long wet grass sheltering rock, and fell backward. Dreamlike, down, down, down. The sound—CRAAACK! —of his skull striking stone depleted oxygen from the air, and I couldn’t breathe.
Yes, I recall every detail of that day. We’d dueled many times as Oliver and Odette, but on that day I expected to step, at last, over my mortally wounded and vanquished brother and climb the rock-strewn mountain to the top. I could see myself raising my sword skyward and relishing victory as I smiled at the gathering crowd.
But the crowd that gathered that day was only Mom.
With a mournful sound, she dropped like a dove downed by an arrow to cradle my twin in her arms. “Go! Get help,” she gasped through her tears.
When I didn’t budge, she rose to catch me in a claw-like grip. She shook me so hard my brain rattled; she screamed until her face turned red and cords in her neck stood out. I seemed to oat outside of myself, watching from a distance.
In my dreams ever since, she pummels me with her sts, sobbing, “Allana, what have you done? Oh my God, Allana Odette, what did you do?”
Even though I protested—I didn’t mean it, I didn’t mean it—no words came out of my mouth, Struck mute, I couldn’t explain how it was my turn to win or that I was defending the United States of America, or almost, and Alon, so much like Hawaii, and all good things on Oak Street, Earth, and beyond.
There would be no celebration of my victory, no warm warrior’s welcome, and no birthday cake.
Dad came running to the park with men from the church. People listening to the RCA already had their teeth set for war. Boys playing kickball in streets beyond the park stopped their game; girls in corduroy dresses sang in a shrill chorus.
Alerted, hordes and hordes in muf ers and tweed swarmed to bear witness to this unspeakable horror—a more personal and singular tragedy—that had befallen the Blair family at Oak Street Park.
As everyone stared, I held my breath and drifted far, far away, to a place where I really amounted to something, and the very fact I existed made a difference in the whole scheme of things, and even though I was only a girl with a play sword, I was the hero, after all.
Everything changed that day. And yet, everything stayed the same.
And even though time stopped for me, it really didn’t in the scheme of things because now I’m sixteen and so is Jack. There’s a war in Korea, and life and death goes on and on and on.
As feral cats quarrel outside my window tonight, I lie awake dreading my brother. The game will last as long as he’s held in Abeyance, and the rules keep changing. It isn’t fair. With his otherworldly powers, he’s capable of anything.

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