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You have decorated your folders with the same drawings of the same Pegasus leaping over the same castle. What a schoolgirl you are. Throughout the collection, Meno displays an uncanny knack for narrative. Yet the sword of his dialogue, when he chooses to wield it, slices clean into the sequence with a vengeance rarely rivaled. I know you would like to hurt me.

Beneath the ghostly white sheet, Frances is very pretty. She has soft brown eyes and a face shaped like a dandelion: Her hair is blond and curly. For some five months now, Frances has refused to speak. She is reading her school book which is all about horses. In the book, a black mare nestles with a small white pony. The baby, in the car seat behind her, is blowing spit bubbles and smiling at her.

While her mother is fooling with the radio, Frances turns and pinches the baby for absolutely no reason.

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In the station wagon, in front of the school, Janet turns to face her daughter. The ghost makes a small move and Janet can see that Frances has folded her arms in front of her chest, pouting. The ghost does not move. Janet quickly makes a grab for the flimsy fabric, but Frances, small, ruthless, quick, is already gripping it too tightly. Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay!

Janet shouts, letting go of the white blanket, sheet, whatever it is. If you want to go in there like that, fine, be my guest. The ghost is still for a moment, then one solitary pink hand reaches up and finds the door handle. Janet does not even protest. It is now It is totally out of her hands.

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Janet sits and watches the schoolchildren all standing in line, clapping, singing, shouting. Frances is doing well at school, mostly. She has known how to read ever since she was three. Frances loves to read but struggles to speak, or to make many sounds at all due to her hearing impairment. Frances is good at spelling and her vocabulary comprehension is very high. She does not like to wear it because it makes the other children stare.

Sitting there, like every morning, Janet wonders if they are doing the right thing, letting Frances go to the regular public school. There is a special ed school but it is an hour and a half away and the school here has been very accommodating. The biggest problem is Frances, because she gets frustrated and she can be pretty, well, mean. In line, the first grade class is whistling. Frances whistles along, hers a bright dizzying sound like a small bird doing figure eights in the sky. Frances knows how to whistle. She does not exactly hear the sound but feels the small, bright vibrations along her lips.

She measures the sound and pitch using her fingertips. Some of the kids laugh, staring at the deaf girl dressed as a ghost, trying to whistle along. An older girl from the fifth grade who wears a green dress and a small, coy smile, points and laughs at Frances and says her name in a way which Frances hates. She can tell by the looks their mouths are making how terribly they are saying it. But soon all of the fifth graders begin to chant it. Frances lunges at the closest fifth grader, a dark-eyed boy, and tries to bite his arm through the sheet.

Miss Dove appears and asks what the commotion is, and very soon Frances is, once again, crying.

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In the station wagon, Janet pulls away, the baby now asleep. Her fingers are aching for a cigarette. She allows herself only two a day, one after Frances has been dropped off at school, and one when both children are in bed. Their daddy is now only a photograph of a young man with boyish good looks, blond hair, soft eyes, who is holding a machine gun at his side, a mosque rising behind him in a sand-colored background. Liberator, my ass , she thinks. How about big, dumb target? How about imaginary husband?

When the cigarette lighter in the dash pops out, Janet struggles to find her package of menthols in time.


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The traffic light changes too quickly and the jerk in the Volvo behind her begins to honk. The baby dozes behind her. Janet is thinking. She has decided Frances is too old to be hiding under that sheet. She inhales the minty smoke and composes an imaginary letter to her husband in her mind: Your daughter is acting up again. Where are you, you jerk? Do not get killed or I will never forgive you.

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Often, Frances must sit in the time-out corner at school. She must sit in the corner for drawing pictures of horses on her worksheets or for leaving her seat without permission. Frances, once again in trouble, sits in the corner of the room. She sits on a small wooden stool. There is a great silver spiderweb hidden in the silent angles of the classroom where Frances finds two dead flies. She names one Fritz and one Ferdinand.

She decides they are soldiers. She decides they are her dear friends, but unhappy at war, and far, far away from their homes. What adventures the two of them will soon have. Look: Fritz has found a motorcycle with a sidecar. Ferdinand does not want to ride in the sidecar; he is afraid of riding in it.

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Ferdinand is afraid of everything. Fritz and Ferdinand are now arguing. A security guard let me out with a chuckle when she heard me pounding on the very heavy but unlocked door. The final exhibit I saw was about kurents.

Why You Should Fear The Demon Spring

All I knew from my brief Googling before I arrived was that they were ancient demons meant to scare away winter to usher in spring. At the castle museum, I learned that their origins are pagan and mysterious. Kurents are the headliners of the festival that, in its modern iteration, evolved to mesh with Carnival of the Christian calendar.

But in the dimness of the exhibition hall, even the masks meant to be funny were eerie in their emptiness.