Still Time To Build [fiction]

It was November 2007, after Thanksgiving Day, when Sarah came across an ad in the Sunday paper for an upcoming movie called The Golden Compass. She grew excited and relayed to her mother and aunt how this was the greatest thing ever. Of course, they give her that look, the Mr. Spock of Star Trek look, the one with one eyebrow raised.

“Honestly, Sarah,” her mother said, “I don’t know what are you talking about.”

Sarah described the book by Philip Pullman, how a great fantasy story it was to get lost in—as good as The Lord of the Rings, better than the Harry Potter book, and the best thing she had ever read.

The eyebrows remain raised at her, so she began again. “It’s the first book of a trilogy called His Dark Materials, published in 1995 in Great Britain and recommended by a friend over there.”

“Was that that girl named Bekka?” Mother asked.

“Yes.” Without missing a beat, Sarah added, “I couldn’t find the book at any of the local book chains, so I sent Bekka some American cash inside a box.” (She was 15 and knew of no other way to get Bekka the money.) “So Bekka bought the book and mailed it to me. It’s all about Lyra Belacqua and her daemon and how they set out to prevent her best friend Will and other children from becoming the subjects of gruesome experiments in the Far North.”

The eyebrow rose again. So did Aunt Shirley’s.

“Sounds creepy,” Aunt Shirley said. “So, tell me again why you’re so excited.”

“They’re making it into a movie!” Sarah stood and almost danced. “Imagine the special effects they’ll have with the magic and animals and fantasy worlds.”

“Another computer-generated movie,” Mother said with a hint of sourness painting her voice.

“Or a cartoon,” Aunt Shirley shook her head. “They’re making too many of those—that Disney stuff and all.”

But Sarah stopped listening and nearly skipped like a child to her bedroom where she found the His Dark Materials trilogies still on her bookshelf. The third book still held the bookmark where she had written: To build the Republic of Heaven.

“Yes,” she said as she gazed out a window overlooking the fire damage of a still smoldering San Diego, California, “that’s what Lyra was going to do. And me too.” She went to her desk and turned on her laptop. “There’s still time.”

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