A diary entry many years later:
“Long ago, a magical king was born in a kingdom where animals talked and intellect sparred with spirituality. It was a time when truth transcended culture, forgiveness won battles, and love conquered a young girl’s heart.”
But lest I get ahead of myself, let me start from the beginning—which happened a long, long, long time ago. So long ago, I barely remember the beginning of my journey to the Seventh Dimension.
The Dark Secret of Shale Snyder
I hid in a closet underneath the stairs—my safe house. Nobody would find me in here. It wasn’t used because the ceiling was too low. After the accident, the closet became my friend. I wanted to avoid Judd, who came over to visit Chumana. She was not my sister but we lived together.
Guilt overwhelmed me. The door creaked as I turned the handle. I held my breath and peered through the tiny slit. Moving shadows darkened the room. Judd, Rachel, and Chumana stared into a small brown shoebox.
Chumana burst out crying. “I hate Shale.”
I cringed. She already hated me anyway, ever since we moved in with them a few months earlier.
Rachel stood and recited a Jewish prayer. “Barukh shem k'vod malkhuto l'olam va'ed. Blessed is the name of his glorious kingdom forever and ever.” With her unkempt hair, puffy red eyes, and flushed face, I barely recognized my best friend.
“Why are you praying?” Judd snapped. “We aren’t here to pray.”
“Accidents happen,” Rachel said.
“She should be cursed,” Judd exploded.
“Don’t say that,” Rachel said.
“How do you know it was an accident?” Chumana asked.
I looked away. I couldn’t listen. My whole body quivered—what kind of curse?
Judd’s voice cracked. “I demand she tell us what happened.”
The three twelve-year-olds sat silently for a moment before Rachel responded. “She fell down the stairs with Fifi and she’s afraid.”
I swallowed hard.
Judd pulled his uncle’s Atlanta Braves cap over his eyes and clinched his hand into a fist. “I hope Shale never has any friends—for the rest of her life.” He covered his face and sobbed.
I bit my fingernail holding back tears. I’d never heard a boy cry. Could his curse come true?
Chumana’s red hair matched her fiery temper. “That’s not enough of a curse. She already doesn’t have any friends.”
“I’m her friend,” Rachel said. “Accidents happen.”
Rachel lived two buildings down from us in the Hope Garden Apartments. Would she still be my friend if I told her the truth? I didn’t just fall—it was what I was doing when I fell. I was too afraid. I rubbed my swollen ankle, a reminder of my foolishness. The doctor hoped it would heal, but Fifi lay in the box.
Probably God hated me, too. If I told the truth, everyone would hate me. I couldn’t even tell my mother. My father—he left me long ago.
Two Years Later
I felt a hand reach underneath my blue skirt. I spun around on my toes. Students in the crowded hallway blended into a blur of anonymity. Hurried bodies shoved past. Am I going crazy? Did I imagine it? I scanned faces and froze each one, like a snapshot with a camera.
“Shale, why are you standing there? Come on or you’ll be late to class.” Rachel was waiting at the hall lockers.
I walked towards her as the bell rang.
“Are you okay?” She furrowed her brow.
“I’m fine.” I smiled, pretending nothing had happened. I’d think about it later. “Did you finish your analysis of As You Like It?”
Rachel’s brown eyes bulged. “Is it due today?”
“Here’s mine. You can take a quick look if you need to.”
“Oh, thanks, Shale. I hate Shakespeare anyway. No copying, promise. Just a peek.”
“It’s no different from reading Spark Notes on the web,” I quipped.
When we walked into English class at Garden High School, I sat in the seat closest to the door and stared out into the darkened hallway. Who did it? What would I do if I caught him? Mrs. Wilkes’s voice brought me back to reality as she recited from a Shakespearean play.
|Dakota Fanning||as Shale Snyder|
|Daniel Radcliffe||as Daniel Cohen|
|Kodi Smit-McPhee||as Nathan Snyder|