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hs40150.jpgbuy prints of select halfsquatch photographs at etsy or dawanda. (prints of all photographs are available upon request) day 40

No one was home when Rebecca arrived at the house after her session with Dr. Tuttle. She ignored the reporters’ shouts as she stepped inside, leaving the day’s deliveries piled on the front porch. Gift baskets, concert tickets, books, letters, all kinds of presents already filled the Richman’s living room courtesy of journalists angling for interviews.

When Lisa or Bob weren’t around Julie would rifle through the swag, pulling out anything – makeup, gift certificates for online shops, CDs – she deemed desirable. This had become a source of major strife, with Lisa and Bob demanding Julie return whatever she’d taken. The argument was always the same.

“But Rebecca doesn’t even want this stuff.”

“She might one day,” Lisa would say.

“Somebody should use it.”

“That’s for your sister to decide,” her father would chime in.

“Fine!”

“Fine!”

Doors would slam and they’d withdraw into their respective corners: Julie in her room, the hip-hop blaring, Lisa in the kitchen with a fridge full of beer and Bob outside, smoking around the side of the shed.

When Rebecca was alone she’d sift through the boxes and baskets, open a random envelope and read before replacing it all exactly as it was before. It was a skill she’d honed as a child tempted by Christmas gifts under the tree but too filled with honour to admit her irrepressible curiosity.

She peered through the crinkly cellophane wrap of an enormous gift basket. It was filled with tangerines and cans of a caffeinated energy juice she’d seen Julie drink. She inspected another — this one was stuffed with nail polishes and hair products with names like Anti-Gravity Elixir. Rebecca surveyed the stash on either side of the foyer and a box caught her eye. It was wrapped in bright red paper printed with sinister-looking big-eyed gnomes.

She retreated to her bedroom, the package under one arm. She worked open the taped corners and eased out a plain white box. Inside, she found Japanese goth-girl magazines, notepaper and stickers with so-sweet baby animals and nonsensical sayings, a carton of wind-up sushi toys and an assortment of plastic figurines with faces that were simultaneously creepy and cute. There was a thick envelope with her name. She read and then re-read the letter. She held the hundred dollar bills up to the light to check for signs of counterfeiting the way Kelly taught her to do at Caribou Corner. She punched Yoshi Oba’s name into Google and trolled through countless websites, gathering snippets of information that legitimized her excitement.

She stared for the longest time at the airline ticket from Whitehorse to Vancouver. To use at your leisure, Yoshi Oba wrote. Rebecca scanned the walls of her bedroom, eventually singling out Brady, one of her earliest and favourite makeover dolls. Then she picked up the phone and dialed the number on Yoshi Oba’s business card.

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                                                                                                                                                          ©2008 pamela klaffke