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Page Turner Challenge: Picks

Stanley Park by Travis McLean

1983

It was a Sunday night and Penelope Lau took the lever in her small palms and began to work at it, triggering the gates that held in the saltwater of Second Beach pool. They pulled back and the water, no longer trapped within the warm stonewalls, rushed back out towards the Pacific.

But the old door jammed and Penelope went out near the edge of the pool to investigate. 

She plunged a hand down into the darkened water and felt around for the obstruction. It felt like a boulder covered in soft seaweed. Secured on both knees, she leaned down and took hold of the fine wisps of seaweed with either hand. Patters of rain fell down against the calm pool-water. After a small struggle, the object shook loose and Penelope lifted it to the surface.

It was the head of a woman; a mess of walnut brown hair tangled around its face, intact but for a missing nose, chopped clean-off, a sharp piece of bone left protruding at the bridge. 

Penelope met the woman’s eyes for a long moment; she could not find the courage to scream. Her hands pulled back, away, and the head splashed down into the water, bobbing as a buoy in the shallows of a lake. She watched as the head spilled out through the open gates of the pool, back into the ocean that run unbroken toward Vancouver Island.

Penelope could not escape the look of that face. She never would.

Travis McLean is from Burnaby, BC


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