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Authors: Kelly Link

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The Wrong Grave

BOOK: The Wrong Grave
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KELLY LINK
was born in Florida in
1969 and now lives in
Massachusetts. She has
written two previous
collections of short
stories and has won
three Nebulas and a
World Fantasy Award.
Kelly Link and her
husband Gavin Grant
run a small publishing
company called Small
Beer Press. Her website
is
www.kellylink.net

SHAUN TAN
grew up in the northern
suburbs of Perth. He has
written and illustrated
several award-winning
books including
The
Arrival
and
Tales from
Outer Suburbia
. Shaun
Tan lives in Melbourne
with his partner Inari
Kiuru and a small
parrot. His website
is
www.shauntan.net

THE
W
RONG
G
RAVE

K
ELLY
L
INK

WITH DECORATIONS BY
S
HAUN
T
AN

The paper in this book is manufactured only from wood
grown in sustainable regrowth forests.

The Text Publishing Company
Swann House
22 William Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000
Australia
www.textpublishing.com.au

Copyright © Kelly Link 2008
www.kellylink.net
Illustrations copyright © Shaun Tan 2008

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright above, no part of this publication shall be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.

First published by Viking, a member of the Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 2008
This edition published by The Text Publishing Company 2009

‘The Wrong Grave' first appeared in
The Restless Dead: Ten Original Stories of the
Supernatural
, edited by Deborah Noyes, published by Candlewick Press, 2007.

‘The Wizards of Perfil' first appeared in
Firebirds Rising: An Anthology of Original Science
Fiction and Fantasy
, edited by Sharyn November, published by Firebird, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2006.

‘Magic for Beginners' first appeared in
Magic for Beginners
, published by Small Beer Press, 2005.

‘The Faery Handbag' first appeared in
The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm
, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, published by Viking, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2004.

‘The Specialist's Hat' first appeared in
Event Horizon
in 1998; reprinted by permission of Small Beer Press, 2001.

Cover & preliminaries designed by WH Chong
Page design by Jim Hoover
Printed and bound in Australia by Griffin Press

National Library of Australia
Cataloguing-in-Publication data:

Link, Kelly.

The wrong grave / Kelly Link.

ISBN: 9781921520730 (pbk.)

For secondary school age.

813.6

CONTENTS

T
HE
W
RONG
G
RAVE

T
HE
W
IZARDS
OF
P
ERFIL

M
AGIC FOR
B
EGINNERS

T
HE
F
AERY
H
ANDBAG

T
HE
S
PECIALIST'S
H
AT

Anyone might accidentally dig up the wrong grave.

T
HE
W
RONG
G
RAVE

ALL OF THIS
happened because a boy I once knew named Miles Sperry decided to go into the resurrectionist business and dig up the grave of his girlfriend, Bethany Baldwin, who had been dead for not quite a year. Miles planned to do this in order to recover the sheaf of poems he had, in what he'd felt was a beautiful and romantic gesture, put into her casket. Or possibly it had just been a really dumb thing to do. He hadn't made copies. Miles had always been impulsive. I think you should know that right up front.

He'd tucked the poems, handwritten, tear-stained and with cross-outs, under Bethany's hands. Her fingers had felt like candles, fat and waxy and pleasantly cool, until you remembered that they were fingers. And he couldn't help noticing that there was something wrong about her breasts, they seemed larger. If Bethany had known that she was going to die, would she have gone all the way with him? One of his poems was about that, about how now they never would, how it was too late now. Carpe diem before you run out of diem.

Bethany's eyes were closed, someone had done that, too, just like they'd arranged her hands, and even her smile looked composed, in the wrong sense of the word. Miles wasn't sure how you made someone smile after they were dead. Bethany didn't look much like she had when she'd been alive. That had been only a few days ago. Now she seemed smaller, and also, oddly, larger. It was the nearest Miles had ever been to a dead person, and he stood there, looking at Bethany, wishing two things: that he was dead, too, and also that it had seemed appropriate to bring along his notebook and a pen. He felt he should be taking notes. After all, this was the most significant thing that had ever happened to Miles. A great change was occurring within him, moment by singular moment.

Poets were supposed to be in the moment, and also stand outside the moment, looking in. For example, Miles had never noticed before, but Bethany's ears were slightly lopsided. One was smaller and slightly higher up. Not that he would have cared, or written a poem about it, or even mentioned it to her, ever, in case it made her self-conscious, but it was a fact and now that he'd noticed it he thought it might have driven him crazy, not mentioning it: he bent over and kissed Bethany's forehead, breathing in. She smelled like a new car. Miles's mind was full of poetic thoughts. Every cloud had a silver lining, except there was probably a more interesting and meaningful way to say that, and death wasn't really a cloud. He thought about what it was: more like an earthquake, maybe, or falling from a great height and smacking into the ground, really hard, which knocked the wind out of you and made it hard to sleep or wake up or eat or care about things like homework or whether there was anything good on TV. And death was foggy, too, but also prickly, so maybe instead of a cloud, a fog made of little sharp things. Needles. Every death fog has a lot of silver needles. Did that make sense? Did it scan?

Then the thought came to Miles like the tolling of a large and leaden bell that Bethany was dead. This may sound strange, but in my experience it's strange and it's also just how it works. You wake up and you remember that the person you loved is dead. And then you think: really?

Then you think how strange it is, how you have to remind yourself that the person you loved is dead, and even while you're thinking about that, the thought comes to you again that the person you loved is dead. And it's the same stupid fog, the same needles or mallet to the intestines or whatever worse thing you want to call it, all over again. But you'll see for yourself someday.

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