Home | Archive | Itineraries | Events | FAQ | Columns/Links
Advertise | Newsletter | About/Subscribe | Submissions | Art Walk | Books | THE2NDHAND Writers Fund

**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

Featherproof Books

Back to Archive Index

Ellen Kennedy

Ellen Kennedy lives in Pennsylvania. Visit her website

Judy is seven years old. Judy has two parents. One parent is a professor with a PhD. in literature. One parent is an archeologist. Judy is alone. She sits in the apartment alone and reads. She has no babysitter.

Today is the day on which Judy was born. Her parents give her a Moleskine journal. On her birthday, Judy lies in her bed and touches the journal. Judy goes to sleep. Her birthday is over.

The next day, her parents leave for work. Judy is on summer vacation from school. After her parents leave, she takes the subway to the Bobst Library. Every day, she crawls very quickly under the turnstile and goes upstairs to look at books. Today she picks out four books, Monsters of the Deep, The Essential Nietzsche, A History of the Native Animals to New Zealand, and The Way We Eat, Why Our Choices Matter. She removes the sensors from the covers, places the books in her red backpack, and goes back to the first floor to crawl under the turnstile. She has done this every day for two years.

Judy walks to Washington Square Park. She sits on a bench and takes out A History of the Native Animals to New Zealand. She reads the first chapter. It says, "in prehistoric times, New Zealand was home to the Giant New Zealand penguin. Fossils found of the penguin display an average height of six feet." A squirrel walks by. She stares at the squirrel. She takes out her Moleskine journal and decides to write a letter to the squirrel.

The letter says,

"To squirrel,

What do you think of colossal penguins?

You are a vegan, Would you feel uncomfortable being around something that probably needed to eat 80 pounds of fish everyday?

I am a vegan too but could forgive the penguin I think.

From Judy"

She places the journal back into her bag and walks back to the subway station. She takes the train home. Tomorrow her parents are sending her to Florida to go to Epcot. She feels calm flying on airplanes. She thinks that tomorrow might be a good day.

When Judy arrives in Florida she meets a woman whom her parents hired to take care of her and bring her to her hotel. The woman's name is Iza. She used to be Judy's au pair. Judy thinks Iza is pretty but is generally bored by her.

It is Judy's second day in Florida. She is at Epcot. Iza takes her to see the manatees. Judy has a soft manatee toy at her apartment which she hugs sometimes. One night she beat the manatee toy against her face for a few minutes and felt good doing it.

The manatees are floating very slowly. Judy smiles a little. In the tank are many heads of lettuce. The manatees float slowly and eat the lettuce. A man throws more lettuce in every fifteen minutes. Judy stares at the manatees. She feels like the manatees are the only good thing that life has to offer her at this point. Then she thinks about the book with giant New Zealand penguins in it and realizes that she was being dishonest and dramatic when she felt that way.

After the manatees, Iza takes Judy back to her hotel. Judy is lying in a queen-sized bed, alone. She lies in the bed and touches the Moleskine journal. She opens the journal and writes a letter to the manatee.

The letter says,

"To manatee,

In my head, avocados and blue whales match I think.

I think a blue whale would like avocados.

Isn't that depressing?

How a blue whale doesn't know what an avocado is?

Do blue whales eat phytoplankton only or also zooplankton?

I hope blue whales are vegans.

A blue whale doesn't know what a banana is.

A manatee might know what a banana is.

A manatee eats lettuce.

I felt good watching you float.

Do you have friends?

Your eyes look very big and soft

I want to swim in lettuce with you.

From Judy"