Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism/excerpt from UNRAVELED by Paola Corso

Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism

b y   p a o l a   c o r s o   ~   p i t t s b u r g h,   p e n n s y l v a n i a

AFTER THAT, I wrote every week, telling Lisa how long Mrs. Natoli's knitting had gotten. It was growing steadily. I knew because I checked every day. It practically covered Mrs. Natoli's knees and then began to drag on the floor it was so long. I used up most of my writing tablet explaining all this to Lisa when finally she wrote back and said she was about to have the baby.

I wrote her right away and told her everything in a letter—that when I visited Mrs. Natoli, she used up all the yarn in her tin and even had Harold break away from the camera to get her some more. He did when there was a commercial. Mrs. Natoli yelled to Rosetta to come down and try her gown on. She stepped up to a stool right through a strip of sunshine. Rosetta was covered in a web of blue that glowed so bright that I swore I could see right through her. Mrs. Natoli began tugging at the gown in places where it was too short. When she put her needles down to use both hands, the yarn dropped out of her lap and onto the cement floor. I reached to grab it for her, but it rolled out of my reach over to the cellar doors and up the stairs toward the backyard. At that point, Rosetta began spinning around like a ballerina, almost as though the force at the end of the yarn sent her in a thousand circles as the gown began to unravel. Her feet clawed the stool, her knees knocked, and her thighs shook like Jell-O salad. When the part around Rosetta's stomach was about to unravel, Mrs. Natoli pushed me out the door and yelled for me to stop it.

I followed the trail of blue yarn past the woodshed where it slipped between two leaves of wild rhubarb and into the brush. My feet twitched with every stone and buckeye that landed underneath my ting tongs. I could see the blue strip ahead of me except where it disappeared in the shadows of tulip trees. As I got closer to the river, the ground began to spring back from under my feet like sponge cake. Beads of moisture hung a pearl necklace on the weeds. The yarn was damp in places now.

I let it glide through my hand until I reached the end: the belly button of a baby. It was laying on a patch of green moss floating on the river. Its skin was as smooth as a clean blackboard. Its hair stuck to its scalp. Its hands made tight fists. A bubble peeked through its open lips. I never held a baby this young before but knew enough to hold its head. I ran as fast as I could and would have gotten lost in the woods if it weren't for the trail of blue yarn to follow back to Mrs. Natoli's cellar. I couldn't wait to hand Rosetta her baby in a nest of yarn. Finally, she'd have a baby to love as much as Harold did his science. Mrs. Natoli took a pair of scissors and snipped the yarn off the baby. Harold came out of the bathroom and took his goggles off. He couldn't wait to weigh and measure it.

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