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Magical bears in the con.., p.5
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       Magical Bears in the Context of Contemporary Political Theory, p.5

           Jenna Katerin Moran
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  Ann looks up as she hears a bell ring. “Twice in one night,” she whispers. “That’s not common.” She rises from her chair. She walks, tall, graceful, and lithe, to the door; and out; and down the garden path to the great black gates.

  “Terrence,” she says, to the sprite who waits for her there.

  “Rainbow,” he cries. It’s a soft and wounded noise.

  “‘Ann,’” she says.

  “Ann.” He looks up at her, pleading. He trembles. He’s terrified of her. She only looks sad, but he’s shaking like a leaf.

  “I don’t have anything for you,” she says.

  “Ann,” he says softly. “Please. Get your magic belt. Put it on. If you don’t harness the power of the rainbow, Nihilism Bear will kill us all.”

  She tilts her head to one side. She clicks her tongue. She blinks. “Ask me to move aside a mountain to save a trapped child, and I will stand at its base and push. Ask me to run a thousand miles without stopping, that a starving man might find a meal, and I will set my feet upon that course and run. Ask me to sing to charm the angels, or cut out my tongue to staunch the devil’s hate—

  “. . . but do not ask me this.”

  Terrence hesitates. He closes his eyes in pain. Then he says, softly, “I lied to you.”

  Ann’s face is still. Her eyes draw in the moonlight. After a long moment, she says, “Why?”

  “It was necessary,” he whispers. Leaves skitter across the road.

  “You showed me the machine that made me,” she says. “It wasn’t a lie. I was never a real girl. I was just a thing the sprites put together to save the Rainbow World from darkness. You poured in the stardust and out came a girl.”

  “That was true,” Terrence answers.

  Ann’s eyes narrow. There’s a glint in them now that chills. “Then the rest is true,” she says. “I have no heart. I have no life. I have no magic. I’m just a tool. A thing. A vessel for power.”

  Behind his back, Terrence crosses his fingers. “That’s true,” he says, “but only when you don’t have rainbow stardust. Don’t you understand, Ann? When I put the magic in you, you’re a real person. Your hopes are real hopes. Your dreams are real dreams.”

  Fast as a striking whip, she has one hand on each of his shoulders and has him pressed back against the stone arch that holds her gate. She’s grown now. She’s twice her old height and her muscles are strong. She leans into his face. “Why?” she hisses. “Why didn’t you tell me that then?”

  “You were a threat,” he answers. “Ann, it wasn’t my idea. You have to believe me. I had orders! You were a threat!”

  Her eyes scan his face. “A threat.”

  “Don’t you know what it would have done?”

  “I could have stopped the war,” she says. “I could have stopped the killing. But I didn’t. Because I’m not a person. You’re telling me I could have been?”

  Some strength returns to Terrence’s eyes. His voice is sharp and resonant. “It was not appropriate for the Rainbow World to get involved. You know that. Earth would have found us. They would have annexed us. We wouldn’t have the Rainbow World. We wouldn’t have Shadow City. We’d have nothing.”

  She holds him there for a moment, then drops him. “. . . It doesn’t matter,” she says. “Give me a heart. I’ll fight Nihilism Bear.”

  She holds up her hands, and a rainbow-symbol belt slithers through the air from her house to land in them. She buckles it around her waist, exhaling like a cinched horse. Solemnly, Terrence extends to her a handful of colored stars. She takes them. The air around her shimmers and gleams like a soap bubble, thousands of colors livid in the night. She makes a high and maddened keening noise. The paleness and darkness of her drips away like paint washing off of ice. Then there comes silence. When Ann next speaks, her voice resounds in seven tones and strikes into his consciousness like a god’s.

  “Where shall I go?” she says.

  Mutely, he gestures to the car. She laughs a little. “No budget for a magic horse?” she sings.

  “Lady,” he whispers. “Had I the means, I would give you the stars; and the sky; and a magic horse besides. But now, I have a car, and a fuzzy red bear representing sexual empowerment; this only, and my life.”

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