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By Raymond Macherot

3rd publication within the Clifton sequence, translated from Dutch to English

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I don't know. I have no idea. IN THE ADVANCED CLASS THAT DAY I TRY NOT TO STARE AT Athena, Vesta, and Aphrodite, but I find myself stealing surreptitious looks while they read their translations. I think I can detect blue circles under Athena's eyes, but then I know that the girls often affect this sleepless look by smudging kohl under their eyes, which matches the shade of blue lipstick they all favor. She fumbles, though, in her translation, which is not like her. " I ask her. " "It's the light, not she," Vesta interrupts.

Don't forget," I read in one of these coda. " Sometimes there is a drawing on the back of her assignment. Half a woman's face dissolving into a wave. A rainbow sliced in two by a winged razor blade. A heart with a dagger through its middle. Cheap teenage symbolism. They could be pictures from the book I kept when I was her age. I recognize the paper she uses by its ragged edge where it's been pulled out of the thread-stitched notebook. If she's not careful, pages will start to come loose. I know because I used the same sort of book when I was her age, the kind with the black-and-white marbled covers.

I think of what I had hoped for my life at fourteen, and it isn't so much as if I had died as that I had fallen into a long sleep like a girl in a fairy tale. But I had thought of my case as unique. "A girl like Ellen is particularly at risk," Dr. Lockhart says. " Dr. Lockhart wheels herself over to a gunmetal gray file cabinet and pulls a light green file folder from the middle drawer. She looks at it briefly and slips it back into place. " Dr. Lockhart rattles off these facts as if she's reciting a recipe.

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Clifton and the Spies by Raymond Macherot


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