Setting: Modern

The Boy Who Hoped

In a town called Białystok, there was a boy called Ludwik Zamenhof. Ludwik was a Jew. There were many Jews in Białystok. There were also Russians, Poles, and Germans. They all lived in different parts of the city, and they did not get on well.

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House of Secrets Chapter 4

Xu’s room was a mess. Steve thought his was bad, with jewels and bones and spellbooks everywhere, but at least in his room you could see the floor. Everywhere in her bedroom, there were pieces of paper, old fast food boxes, apple cores, magazines, and polaroids. There was some genuinely nice art on her walls, but the complete mess everywhere else distracted from it.

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House of Secrets Chapter 3

Steve hadn’t been joking. There was a circle of thick candles on the floor, and a table had been placed in the middle, with expensive cloth on top. Elisabeth was impressed. She’d been in professional productions with far worse sets than this.

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House of Secrets Chapter 2

Xu hated lots of things. She hated burnt toast, ugly sweaters, and tiny loud dogs. But more than anything, she hated spiders.
And the attic was full of them.

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House of Secrets Chapter 1

Rosa stared at her renters, and her renters stared back at her. They were all gathered in the living room of her house, sitting on the ancient sofa, looking very annoyed at being there. Xu probably wanted to be outside taking pictures of traffic lights and dogs, and Elisabeth had been loudly rehearsing Macbeth in her bedroom when Rosa called them all down. She didn’t want to know what Steve had been doing, but he looked the same as always, like a naughty child.

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The Heart That Told the Truth

Listen, and I will tell you what happened. Then you can judge how healthy my mind is. You see, my body is strong. My hearing has become much stronger. I can hear sounds far and near. I am not weak, like a crazy man.

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The Beetle and the Boy Chapter 2

Little Mike was my first ever pet. My parents had always said I was too careless for one, but I looked after my stag beetle like he was the most important thing in the world. Once a week, Big Mike came round to visit Little Mike.
‘I think he’s growing bigger,’ he would say. ‘Soon he’ll be as big as you.’

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The Beetle and the Boy Chapter 1

I had always been good at hiding. In a crowd, a corner, or even just against the walls: I was always difficult to find. It caused my parents all kinds of trouble. When I was a baby and my cries filled the house, they ran from room to room, unable to find me. When I didn’t cry, it was even worse. The first few years of my life were awful for them. They spent half the time thinking they must be terrible parents. And they were boring for me, because I had to wait so long to be fed.

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The Mature, Elegant Woman

Behind the letters, there were pictures of people laughing. They looked young and happy. Their faces were soft. They didn’t have any grey hairs. Their teeth were perfectly white.
Silna hated them. She felt sick from hating them so much. As she walked to work, she kept thinking about those laughing faces. She carried the hate on her back, and it got bigger and bigger.

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