Spring 1998 • Vol. XX No. 2 Fiction |

How to Talk to the Dead

Two days after Gretel Samuelson's grandmother moved in with them, Gretel discovered her down on her knees in the kitchen, looking up past the chandelier, as though she could see through the ceiling, right into heaven. To get a true cleanliness fanatic like Grandma Frieda onto a floor which hadn't been mopped for a month was some sort of inverted miracle in itself. Usually, Frieda would have attacked the sticky traces of jelly and tomato sauce with Lestoil and a scrub brush. Now, she didn't even seem to notice the dirt. Right away Gretel thought heart attack. She thought stroke. She thought I really cannot go through this again. In the past eight months Gretel' s father had left and remarried, her mother had been stricken with cancer, and her brother had opted for a job in the deli department of the local Food Star rather than accept the scholarship Harvard had offered. People were going crazy, or so it seemed, and joining in seemed the best protection. In a show of self-mutilati

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Alice Hoffman is the author of many best-selling novels and books of short stories. Her most recent novels are The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things. This spring Random House will publish Nightbird, a magical book for younger readers. The Witch of Truro was published in the collection Blackbird House.

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Changeling

By Alice Hoffman

Two days after Gretel Samuelson's grandmother moved in with them, Gretel discovered her down on her knees in the kitchen, looking up past the chandelier, as though she could see […]

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