The Marbury Lens

Andrew Smith

Feiwel & Friends

Part One

I am going to build something big for you.

It’s like one of those Russian dolls that you open up, and open up again. And each layer becomes something else.

On the outside is the universe, painted dark purple, decorated with planets and comets, stars. Then you open it, and you see the Earth, and when that comes apart, there’s Marbury, a place that’s kind of like here, except none of the horrible things in Marbury are invisible. They’re painted right there on the surface where you can plainly see them.

The next layer is Henry Hewitt, the man with the glasses, and when you twist him in half, there’s my best friend, Conner Kirk, painted to look like some kind of Hindu god, arms like snakes, shirtless, radiant.

When you open him up, you’ll find Nickie Stromberg, the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, and maybe the only person in this world, besides Conner, who ever really loved me.

Now it’s getting smaller, and inside is Freddie Horvath. That’s the man who kidnapped me.

Next, there’s the pale form of the boy, Seth, a ghost from Marbury who found me, and helped me. I guess he was looking for me for a long time. And the last thing on the inside is me. John Wynn Whitmore.

They call me Jack.

But then I open up, too, and what you’ll find there is something small and black and shriveled.

The center of the universe.

Fun game, wasn’t it?

I don’t know if the things I see and what I do in Marbury are in the future or from the past. Maybe everything’s really happening at the same time. But I do know that once I started going to Marbury, I couldn’t stop myself. I know it sounds crazy, but Marbury began to feel safer, at least more predictable, than the here and now.

I need to explain.

THE MARBURY LENS Copyright © 2010 by Andrew Smith