Just a few words on paper

“Tell the stories. Tell them to us.  We want to know all the ways you’re still like us, and all the ways you’ve changed. Talk to us. We’re from a different place and time…”

“I’m not lying to you,” she said, shaking her head. “I really can’t do it.”

“You can and you must,” they snapped. “Those stories belong to us. It doesn’t matter what language they’re in, or what they’re about; they belong to us. And we gave them to you without looking at them first. So now it’s time to see what we’ve done.” 

After a long moment, the harlequin returned to himself and began to speak reasonably.  They weren’t asking for very much, were they? he asked. Just a few words on paper, anything she liked, anything that came to mind, nothing that anyone else need ever read. It didn’t even have to be good.

He honestly expected her to believe that she could make a bad offering and her ancestors wouldn’t mind. 

from Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi


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