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HUCK FINN'S WISH

Dreamed 1995/12/8 by Chris Wayan


I'm living in a Mark Twain book--a mutant version of "Tom Sawyer" or "Huckleberry Finn" that includes a Mysterious Stranger. He offers magic: each kid gets one wish. It's free and revocable. The stranger says frankly "It's an experiment. Will you regret your wish once you have it?"

Tom Sawyer wishes first, while Huck and Becky Thatcher and Jim watch, skeptical. Tom wants to fly. The mysterious stranger points at him... and Tom hops atop the fence, light as a sparrow. He floats up into the tree, then dives around the church steeple like a swallow and lands grinning. It works!

Huck wants a protective spell, so nothing can hurt him. The stranger hems and haws a bit. "Well... that's tricky. I can't protect your feelings."

"Oh, sure," says Huck. "I just meant no one can beat me up or kill me."

"Well, that I can do." So Huck gets his wish--a wise one perhaps, what with his dad beating him and all.

I don't know what Becky Thatcher wishes--she keeps it private, between Mister Mysterious and herself.

Everyone knows what Jim the slave wishes. Ex-slave, I mean.

Huck and Tom to out in a field to test their gifts. Tom flies swoops and soars, but decides he wants to land and walk with Huck. Says absently "let me get down here" as he comes round to land...

But the Mysterious Stranger treats his "let me down here" as revoking his power of flight for good! The gift flicks off like a light, and Tom falls like a shot crow. He's high up. Huck, below, watches in horror, helpless, as Tom Sawyer slams into the rocky earth ten feet away, a broken, silent bloody heap.

One dead in the first few minutes. That was no mistake. This stranger is treacherous, murderous!

I suggest--as a reader, with more time than either of them, able to look outside the text--a way for them to edit the scene. I take Huck's role--and jump under Tom so he lands on ME. I can't be hurt--the spell HAS to let me cushion Tom's fall, even if the Stranger doesn't want it to.

Later, in a bookstore, I run across a revised edition of "Huck and the Mysterious Stranger." I flip it open, and find a new scene: a banquet for Huck, the hero who saved Tom Sawyer.

NOTES IN THE MORNING



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