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Authors: Edeet Ravel

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The Saver

BOOK: The Saver
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The Saver

The Saver


Copyright © 2008 by Edeet Ravel
Published in Canada and the USA in 2008 by Groundwood Books

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher or a license from The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright). For an Access Copyright license, visit
or call toll free to 1-800-893-5777.

Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press
110 Spadina Avenue, Suite 801, Toronto, Ontario M5V 2K4
or c/o Publishers Group West
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710

We acknowledge for their financial support of our publishing program the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP), and the Ontario Arts Council.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Ravel, Edeet
The saver / Edeet Ravel.
ISBN-13: 978-0-88899-882-8 (bound).–ISBN-13: 978-0-88899-883-5 (pbk.)
ISBN-10: 0-88899-882-1 (bound).–ISBN-10: 0-88899-883-X (pbk.)
I. Title.
PS8585.A8715S29 2008        jC813'.54        C2008-902513-X

Cover photograph: Design Pics © 2008
Design by Michael Solomon
Printed and bound in Canada

For my nephew, Joshua, with love


November 19

Hi Xanoth,

OK, I know you aren't real. I'm not a psycho or anything.

But I like thinking about you. I like thinking about your violet eyes and how beautiful your planet is. I love how it's so clean and perfect, there isn't even a word for garbage in your language.

I've been thinking about you since the year after I had Mrs. Johnston. I had her in grade four, when I was ten. Then in grade five everything went back to being messed up. I didn't even see Mrs. Johnston in the hall, because she retired right after I had her.

So starting in grade five, to keep myself awake in class and to help me fall asleep at night, I began thinking about you. That means I've been thinking about you for seven years. By now I know a million things about your reality – your glass dome houses, the swan gardens, your job as a pilot flying people from place to place, and how everything is free on your planet. And you can eat whatever you want, because the food is made with special ingredients that aren't fattening but taste exactly the same, only better.

Anyhow, I'm writing to you now because down here on Earth my mom died. I came home from school and Julian, the tenant with the white triangle beard in Apartment 2, opened his door. I thought he was going to go on one of his rants about how we're leaving food lying around and that's why there's cockroaches in the building. Julian has a roach obsession. He has a million bug traps in his apartment, and he puts sticky paper around his bed at night because he's terrified the roaches are going to crawl over his face while he's asleep. So as soon as he hears anyone on the stairs, he pokes his head out and begins shouting that people are leaving food out and not tying up their garbage in bags.

But today, just as I was getting ready to block him out of my mind, he said, “Your mother's in the hospital. She fell on the stairs. I called 911 and an ambulance came to get her.”

I felt unbelievably sick. If you asked me how I'd feel if I got home and found out my mother fell on the stairs and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance, I would have said I'd be OK. But I felt really sick, like I was going to throw up, only worse.

Meanwhile Julian kept repeating over and over like a parrot, “I called 911, I called 911,” like he's waiting for me to notify all the papers so they can put him on the front page, or like calling 911 is going to erase from my reality the ten million times he yelled at me and Mom.

I didn't want him to see how sick I felt. I said, “What
hospital did they take her to?” and he said, “I called 911 and they came and took her to the Montreal General.”

I didn't say anything. I just continued up the stairs to our apartment.

I unlocked our door and put down my knapsack, which was empty apart from my wallet and my library book,
Murder Times Nine
. That's what I do at school when I'm not sleeping. I sit in the corner and read mysteries. In Sunnyview, if you're quiet, the teachers are just happy they don't have to relate to you. Sunnyview has the worst kids in the city. There are lots of messed-up people on Earth, Xanoth.

As soon as she heard me come in, Beauty, my cat, came running over. I picked her up and went to the kitchen to grab something before I went to the hospital. But I was too sick to eat, so I packed two bags of vinegar chips, in case I got hungry later. Then I put Beauty down. She didn't understand why I was going out again. She didn't like being left alone, especially because she knew something was wrong, but I didn't have a choice.

I wasn't sure how to get to the Montreal General, so I took the bus to the metro and asked the guy in the booth. He said I had to go to Lionel Groulx, switch to the green line, get off at Guy, and take either the 165 or the 166.

It all went OK until I got off the bus. The driver told me that was the stop for the hospital, but I couldn't see a hospital anywhere. I kept crossing back and forth at this crazy intersection of like six streets. It was freezing cold,
and the wind was blowing in my face so I couldn't see anything, and I almost got run over.

Finally I asked this woman who looked like a nurse. She told me the hospital was the building at the top of the hill, and she explained how to get to the entrance. I don't know who thought of putting a hospital in a place no one can get to.

I was a solid block of ice by the time I found the door. I stood at the entrance for a few minutes just to thaw out. I was hungry, even though I still felt sick. I wasn't in the mood for chips, and I had three dollars, so I got a Reese bar from a machine they had there. I wanted two bars, but I didn't want to be left without any money at all. I didn't think to take more from the tin before I left.

No one knew where my mother was. They didn't have any record of a Felicity Henderson, and I started thinking maybe Julian made it all up, or got the wrong hospital. I know on your planet no one gets sick, Xanoth, but here the hospitals are packed to the brim, and people were getting impatient with me because the phones were ringing and everyone was busy.

They sent me to another desk and then to a third desk, and finally this old wrinkly woman at the third desk was nice. I never saw anyone with so many wrinkles, really deep and crossing every which way, but she was friendly and happy. She said, “Don't worry, dear. If she's here we'll find her.”

She checked her computer and finally she found
Mom. I could tell right away that she found her on the dead people list. She didn't want to say anything, but I knew from the look on her face.

She told me to wait in Room 203 and someone would be with me soon.

Room 203 was one of those dead empty rooms with a poster of palm trees that's supposed to make you forget there aren't any windows. There weren't even old gross magazines to look at. I had my library book with me, but I knew I wouldn't be able to concentrate on it.

I ate the chips I brought in my knapsack. Then I shut my eyes and thought about you in your glass dome, having lemon meringue pie while your nieces and nephews played on the swings in the back lawn.

Finally a social worker came in – one of those superior types you feel like killing on the spot. Around 25, with big brown sadistic eyes. Her clothes matched her personality. She was wearing a long tight skirt that was kind of worm-beige and made of some horrible polyester, and a blue shirt with buttons that was even worse, and a black suit jacket with a pocket.

She said, “Dr. Gupta is on his way. I'm sorry we have some bad news,” but she was really happy, believe me.

I didn't want to give her the pleasure of telling me the bad news, so I said right away, “I guess my mother's dead.”

She nodded and pretended she wanted to put her arm around my shoulders to comfort me, but I wouldn't let
her. Then Dr. Gupta, this dark-skinned guy with glasses, came in. He had the most boring voice in the world. Even if you wanted to concentrate on what he was saying, you couldn't. He should have been a teacher. So I don't really know what he said, but it had something to do with Mom's heart.

When he left, the social worker gave me a Baggie with Mom's necklace inside. It's a thin gold chain with a small moon pendant. Mom never took it off, even when she showered.

I unzipped the pocket of my knapsack and stuffed the Baggie inside and zipped it up again, which at least gave me something to do. The social worker said, “They did everything they could, but it was a massive heart attack.” I could tell she really liked saying “massive.”

Then she asked me if there was anyone I could call – a relative or a friend. She wanted to get rid of me so she could move on to her next job of telling someone their whole family was dead in a car crash.

I didn't know what to say. On the one hand, I didn't want to give her the pleasure of knowing there wasn't anyone I could call, and on the other hand, there wasn't anyone. All I have is an uncle out west, but I think he's in prison.

So I just kept saying, “Everyone I know is in Manitoba,” and finally she got bored and asked me how old I was, because someone had to identify the body and fill in all the forms. I lied and said 18. Luckily she didn't
ask for proof. She only asked if I was ready to see Mom.

I felt like saying, no, I'm not ready, I need to strangle you first. But of course I said yes.

Even if she hadn't needed me to identify Mom, I would have asked to see her. I wanted to make sure she was really dead, and that they didn't make a mistake. If I didn't see her, I'd always wonder about that.

I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I was thinking that maybe it wasn't her, maybe someone else's mother was the one who died. That happens sometimes in mysteries, like in
, by Ruth Rendell. The detective calls the parents to identify their daughter, and it turns out it's not her. But that's because the daughter's black, and the police jump to conclusions, because a black girl the same age is missing.

I knew that wasn't going to happen to me. If it wasn't my mom, they wouldn't have the necklace.

The social worker told me she'd be back in a minute, but I couldn't wait in that room from hell again, so I waited out in the corridor.

While I was standing there, leaning against the wall, an Asian family of about a million people showed up. They were all talking at the same time and looking for something. Finally they went into the same room I was in. I guess that's the waiting-to-hear-someone-died room. I felt bad for them at first, but they were smiling and laughing, so maybe they hated the person who died, and now they were going to inherit a lot of money.

BOOK: The Saver
11.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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