Reviews For The Visitor
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Reviewer: Stephe2006 Signed starstarstarstarstar Report
Date: 08/23/18 06:39 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

Really shows the fallacy of the system that is not setup to help the real person but the illusion.

Reviewer: Paper Moon Signed starstarstar Report
Date: 08/19/18 11:52 am Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

I've been wanting to read this story for a while. The reviews were encouraging, but I was more interested in the interaction between the religious and the trans aspects -- too many stories end up (as a previous reviewer noted) grabbing the low-hanging fruit, generating a one-dimensional phantasm or bogeyman of religious folk who hate certain minorities for the purpose of being hateful. And after finishing, I'm honestly not sure what to make of it.

On one hand, the writing is technically adept, and one half of the characterization is excellent. The book consistently displays a rather analytical self-awareness that is unfathomably hard to find in anything nowadays, especially regarding any sort of topic that is as politically charged as this one.

On the other hand, I can't help but feel that the low-hanging fruit on the other side was grabbed for.

The trans people are presented as superficial and conceited; the governmental characters as cold, mechanical figureheads. And not one of them knows who Napoleon Bonaparte is.

And the Christians are, in contrast, presented as wholesome, warm, and homely. And they make sure to reference their extensive knowledge of Greek etymology and Western history.

The Christians being smart isn't the problem. I was raised in a Christian house and homeschooled, and despite my being transgender stands in opposition to everything I've been taught throughout the years, I believe that it's helped me to do more than just numbly read curricula.

But once again, low-hanging fruit. The family did not meet anybody with culture or knowledge or logic or a smidgeon of self-awareness, and many of the characters play into debunked myths and stereotypes relating to some sort of "environmental cause". It gets wearing to hear about the mother who took advantage to play dress-up, or the abusive father who caused his son to turn trans. These things don't exist, but luckily, the goalposts may be moved as deemed fitting:

If I had a sensitive, empathetic father, his "effeminacy" rubbed off on me. If I had a brutish, hyper-masculine father, I "sought out" the life of a girl to escape, or even rebel, from that masculinity. If my father was away at work, even in a normal 9-to-5 job, I became trans as a result. If my father was a stay-at-home dad, I became trans as a result. Divorce? Trans. No divorce? Trans. There are all sort of ways to change the rules here, but none of them are true. It is not a "daddy problem", and I'm honestly tired of hearing of it.

Clearly, you can probably tell that I have some sour grapes. And from some of your responses I can see that you do understand what people like me go through, which is a nice break from the erasure of trans-exclusionary feminists and most politically conservative associations and councils and the like. You see our pain and our anguish. It's literally amazing to see that out of anyone nowadays.

But, from what you wrote in the story, it seems like you perceive us to be suffering in vain -- that if only we could eventually learn to accept our birth sex, we would be so much happier. Why do we persist in our expensive surgeries and hormones that exist to keep from being visibly clocked by passersby, when we could just pretend it was merely a nightmare and try to ignore the problem?

The character of Emily is interesting for this very reason. She transitioned with good results to find that she's ostracized from her peers -- treated like a leper and an outcast. It is for this reason that she is contemplating detransition. Not for anything else. She's a victim of the system -- as soon as people hear she's trans, all they are able to focus on is what she was. All of a sudden, the mutual conversation goes quiet and they don't really want to be friends any more. And to that end, I do hope, given the self-awareness displayed in the rest of the book, that it is significant that Skyla was mentally referred to as such prior to the Hensons receiving notice of her legal name -- after which she is referred to as "Timothy" in non-speaking parts of the text.

But the reasons we suffer are not of our own doing.

Back to the topic at hand. The themes referenced in this book are popular amongst many circles, from the religious right, to trans-exclusionary feminists, to conspiracy theorists. The notion that us transgendered folk are victim to a corporate conspiracy to lead us to transition so we can buy their drugs and surgery is a scary one, but one that has nothing to answer for the burden of proof it bears. Just circumstance and speculation -- where the best and loudest conspiracy theories are born. The notion that we transition in obedience to some subliminal form of autogynephilia has been debunked. The notion that we are all loud, demanding creatures is simply not true, at least in the general sense. While people like "Charlotte" might exist, the academically worded "did you just assume my gender?" is hardly endemic to the trans community.

And seeing Monica and Nathan subtly make fun of the masculinity of some of the women was rather disheartening.

But I reserve my one-star ratings for poorly-written stories. And while half of the plot and half of the characters were remarkably flat, this book is not poorly-written. And the ending, in which Monica remarks to Hannah about the fallibility of human judgement, seems more fitting than any finish the story tried to establish up to that point.

Author's Response: What a wonderful review. Thank you. I think the greatest compliment that anyone can receive is to be taken seriously. I freely admit that everyone outside of Monica’s family is flat. How can they not be? The narrator of most of the story, Monica, has known her family (the children anyway) all her life. She knows everyone else (apart from Skyla) for only a few hours. I attempted to give Rachel and Olivia their own voices in the emails and reports that have been abridged from this version of the story. I attempted to flesh out Skyla by giving her a diary of her own, but, and this is based solely upon my experience as a teacher, many 15-year-olds are not yet fully developed personalities, much less able to articulate the awareness they do have. I also had to leave out two nightmares experienced by Skyla and the incident that got her sent to the hospital. As for the rest of your observations, please understand that I did not write this to explain, explain away, or attack anyone. The message that Monica and Nathan attempted to convey to Skyla was that life as we know it is but the blink of an eye. What is truly important, the only thing that really matters does not involve the physical but the spiritual—being right with God. As I wrote to a previous reviewer, this story was originally written with church people in mind, to get them to remember: “...the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looked on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” Again, thank you for all the time and thought that went into your review. Cordially, School Belle

Reviewer: gwennygoblin Signed star Report
Date: 08/14/18 03:10 am Title: Chapter 25 / Monica's Diary: Sunday, July 16

Looks like my prediction was wrong. We reach "THE END" with a cliche smear of homosexual men as pedophiles and criminals.

This is a fine work extolling the virtues of ignorance and paranoid delusion. I assume there is a lengthy bibliography we'll be seeing as an appendix demonstrating how marriage equality is a cover for legalized prostitution rings.

Let this story serve as a warning to trans women and homosexual men of what Christians really think of them. Additionally, anybody who believes in general that women should be able to live independently of men should take some severe warning. If you're a woman--every kind of woman--and you wouldn't be happy being forced into the lifestyle choices of Monica the subservient wife, there is no place for you in a Christian world.

Reviewer: Amanda Lynn Signed starstarstarstarstar Report
Date: 08/13/18 09:35 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

Wow, I'm not sure what to say, not expecting this ending.
I believe Skyla was finally understanding who they are and what a female is. I also think the Hensons were learning also.
I think Hannah was crying because she came to terms that Timothy was not coming back.
Skyla finally found out who was on their side, and it sure wasn't Rachael. Rachael has her own agenda and is willing to submit Skyla to prostitution over guns.
I'd like to see something where Skyla comes back three years from now, but I think they're probably going to be a victim of suicide.

Reviewer: JussJess Signed Report
Date: 08/13/18 09:03 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

I want to start this review with thanking the author for writing (in my very humble opinion) the greatest story on this website. This is one of the best written stories I have read in a long time, across any genre. The author School Belle is a master of their craft in every sense of the word. The story has a natural flow to it, and really breathes life into all of the characters. I genuinely felt bad for Timothy's situation with his biological family, and never feeling like he belonged anywhere. I really appreciated how all of the Henson family members were fledged out, especially Monica and Hannah. I am really going to miss them!

My single favorite part of this story is that there is no obvious antagonist. All too often in these stories, religion or old fashion conservative values are bashed; they are low hanging fruit and easy to target. This story really shows an honest account of both sides, there is no right or wrong, winners or losers. There are just two parties in earnest that genuinely care about each other. The Henson's are such a wonderful family. Both loving and caring, they open their home and lives to the lost Timothy/Skyla. Timothy is obviously daunted with the road that lies ahead; he knows where he wants to be, but does not fully understand that becoming a woman is not about reaching one single milestone, it's the journey. So much is coming at him in such a pivotal time in his life when he is at his most vulnerable. It's no wonder suicide is so high in our community. Timothy values and defines a woman as how she appears, whereas the Henson family place the value of a woman on how she behaves and her role within a family. I love this juxtaposition!

I have loved this series and anxiously checked everyday for updates. Now that it has ended, I felt so moved and felt so involved with the characters in this story, that I had to create an account to let the author know how I felt. Thank you so much for this story, I am very much looking forward to reading your future stories!

Jess

Author's Response: "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Thank you, Jess, your kind words much refreshed me. When this story happened, I had no idea where it was going. It was based upon my experiences with a number of children in my classes over the years and a friendship with a TG woman that spanned three decades. From them and from her I learned and to some degree felt the ongoing agony that defined their lives. Of course, I loved them and showed them all the courtesy, respect, and tact that love and friendship demand, but I could not really stop the pain. With my friend, I went places and met people. Every person you met in the story, I met and/or know in reality. After my friend died--my sister and I discovered her after she had apparently died in her sleep--I began to feel that something of her story ought to be told but could not see how. It was not until the Monica character, a woman I carpooled to school with for several years, mentioned rescuing a runaway girl when she and her family lived in the Texas Panhandle that I saw the story's beginning. My original plan was to write the story for church people, to show them that when Jesus said: "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" that included the LGBT. Unfortunately, they proved indifferent. I enlisted a number of friends to go over the manuscript, but most proved unable to get through it without being scandalized. It is an ebook on Amazon.com as 'When Samaria Comes Calling' it is rarely purchased and even more rarely reviewed. Shameless plug here: The Amazon.com version is unabridged, containing ten chapters that were left out of what's here on Storytime. In any event, the story is not a fairy tale. Skyla is not miraculously converted and does not de-transition to Timothy. By the same token, Skyla does not win the hearts and minds of all in her little world and live happily ever after. Skyla lives in the real world with real people with no real hope that her fondest and most heartfelt dreams will ever come true. Perhaps the only real lesson in the story is that life is hard and then you die. Again, Jess, thank you. Thank you for understanding what I was trying to write and thank you for your words of encouragement. "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." Cordially, School Belle

Author's Response: "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Thank you, Jess, your kind words much refreshed me. When this story happened, I had no idea where it was going. It was based upon my experiences with a number of children in my classes over the years and a friendship with a TG woman that spanned three decades. From them and from her I learned and to some degree felt the ongoing agony that defined their lives. Of course, I loved them and showed them all the courtesy, respect, and tact that love and friendship demand, but I could not really stop the pain. With my friend, I went places and met people. Every person you met in the story, I met and/or know in reality. After my friend died--my sister and I discovered her after she had apparently died in her sleep--I began to feel that something of her story ought to be told but could not see how. It was not until the Monica character, a woman I carpooled to school with for several years, mentioned rescuing a runaway girl when she and her family lived in the Texas Panhandle that I saw the story's beginning. My original plan was to write the story for church people, to show them that when Jesus said: "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" that included the LGBT. Unfortunately, they proved indifferent. I enlisted a number of friends to go over the manuscript, but most proved unable to get through it without being scandalized. It is an ebook on Amazon.com as 'When Samaria Comes Calling' it is rarely purchased and even more rarely reviewed. Shameless plug here: The Amazon.com version is unabridged, containing ten chapters that were left out of what's here on Storytime. In any event, the story is not a fairy tale. Skyla is not miraculously converted and does not de-transition to Timothy. By the same token, Skyla does not win the hearts and minds of all in her little world and live happily ever after. Skyla lives in the real world with real people with no real hope that her fondest and most heartfelt dreams will ever come true. Perhaps the only real lesson in the story is that life is hard and then you die. Again, Jess, thank you. Thank you for understanding what I was trying to write and thank you for your words of encouragement. "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." Cordially, School Belle

Reviewer: Lilchelly Signed star Report
Date: 08/13/18 05:58 am Title: Chapter 25 / Monica's Diary: Sunday, July 16

HALLEFUCKINGLUYAH! Thank God he finally saved Skyla from those wolves in sheep's clothing. After she meets an actual loving family she'll be able to heal and deprogram herself from all the hate that comes from places like these. And to hannah about she wanting a big brother and then whined like a little brat. Skyla never offered to be your big brother, you had in your mind what you wanted her to be. When she didn't fit that, you had a temper tantrum. I know you're only 13, but you need to escape the infantilizing attitudes your family is instilling in you. When you get older, you'll look back on this and remember how awful you and your family were to Skyla. I hope you meet her again, and you can apologize for how you were. You don't deserve to be hated because you were being brainwashed, that's not your fault. I hope you find a more loving, kind church in the future. I hope you and Skyla can reconnect as sisters later on in life, after you escape from that disgusting cults clutchtes. I was wrong about you, none of this is your fault, you were as brainwashed as I was as a little girl. It's not your fault, and I'm sorry.

Reviewer: Sammy1997 Signed starstarstarstarstar Report
Date: 08/13/18 04:07 am Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

....all this stories done is make me hate religion more... it was great but.. fuck

Reviewer: Sammy1997 Signed starstarstarstarstar Report
Date: 08/06/18 05:07 pm Title: Chapter 24 / Monica's Diary: Saturday, July 15

This will sound pathetic but im really unsure id i can even continue reading this, just the fear i feel for skyla.. god it’s disturbing how these people treat her. Maybe god will intervene? NOPE, youre gonna be the fuckheads who interveine and claim youre doing it in gods place. Any excuse to not see who you people truly are.

Reviewer: Kathryn Mayhew Signed star Report
Date: 08/06/18 12:55 pm Title: Chapter 24 / Monica's Diary: Saturday, July 15

Wow - Timothy/Skyla and his adoptive parents are so darn different they're literally living in different worlds. I really don't see this story having a happy ending the way its been presented... I feel bad for Skyla, and I feel bad for the family - because they obviously don't understand, and can't understand - they're totally different in almost every way... It's like living with Aliens - they sort of look like us, but they live strangely and we can't understand why they do what they do. I just don't see any kind of happy ending with this. I love the way you portray their religion - I think its a really nice way to put down and hate others, but feel you're doing it for their own good. Deceptive, and totally self serving - all their assumptions begin with "I'm right and here's how I justify it." I hate this story but I want to keep reading to see if Skyla can be happy. If I was living with that family, I'd probably kill myself or live in the custody of the state and take a regular beating thank you very much.

Reviewer: Lilchelly Signed Report
Date: 08/06/18 10:19 am Title: Chapter 24 / Monica's Diary: Saturday, July 15

Yikes Nathan's description of Trans people stumbling their way as if young girls and boys don't also stumble. And Bailey was quite mean and catty to Skyla. Typical of teenage girls but sure play that off as if that's a boy thing. And then the story of Emily... wow interesting how so many tropes find their way into that tiny little texas town. It's almost a little unbelievable how alphabetical they are. Almost like Nathan was making it up as he went along, and never actually went to this meeting? Yeah that's what I'm going to go with, an asshole like him would be spotted a mile away. Trans people, especially trans women and trans girls are hyper aware of volatile cis people in our midst. It's how we learn to survive. The subtle looks of disgust you cant hide, your feelings are alllll over your face and we can read you like an open book.

Reviewer: gwennygoblin Signed Report
Date: 08/03/18 02:16 am Title: Chapter 23 / Monica's Diary: Friday, July 14

This story is classified completely incorrectly. "Male to female" and "realistic gender change" are completely wrong. It is magical female to male with mental changes, and motivation is tricked/coerced or similar. It is ostensibly voluntary, but the scenario has been carefully constructed by the author to remove all rational choice from the protagonist other than accepting brainwashing and forced detransition from complete strangers who seem to suffer from some kind of mental illess. Reason could be listed as punishment for a crime, but no reason is currently listed.

There's one glaring plot hole where it's uncertain why Christ is able to rewire the protagonist's brain to change it from female to male (with spooky neurosurgery at a distance, no less) and yet does not feel inspired to turn his healing touch to cancer patients, such as children with leukemia. Perhaps this is a postmodern commentary on the patriarchal assumptions inherent in much folklore and myth.

Reviewer: oneanonly_kittykat Signed star Report
Date: 07/26/18 05:57 am Title: Chapter 20 / Monica's Diary: Sunday, July 9

I do not know what kind of BS religion is in this story but my dad who was a catholic preacher did not teach this twisted backwoods type of religion..Because of that I will no longer read anymore of this crap and also why I have given it a 1 rating

Reviewer: Amanda Lynn Signed Report
Date: 07/19/18 03:24 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

I am beginning to not like Skyla. They are a spoiled little brat.
They seem to know absolutely nothing about being female and I'm not so sure about their new "friends".
In a large family there are chores and you get hand me downs. Skyla got new clothes, something the other kids dont really get.
They're looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Reviewer: Amanda Lynn Signed Report
Date: 07/17/18 02:34 am Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

I'm still not certain Skyla/Timothy really know who they are. I think that Kylie picked up on that a little.
I believe that Monika got shocked upon meeting other tg's. She's trying hard to understand something she finds something that was previously incomprehensible.
The one who will have the toughest time in the long run is Hannah.

Reviewer: Sammy1997 Signed starstarstarstarstar Report
Date: 07/16/18 10:32 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

my worry whenever reading monica’s side is she always refer to skyla as timothy. It tells me she does not support his choices, and i worry she and the rest of her family will do anything to make sure Timothy stays forever and that terrifies me

Reviewer: Griffin Signed Report
Date: 07/13/18 10:59 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

Personally,
I do think that you're doing a good job showing these people trying to understand someone that God just sortuv dropped out of the Sky on them....

These little homesteaders
live a sheltered life-
Now they are in over their heads
but they're trying.

Things are looking up for Skyla-
Whatever else happens,
it's not a violent household.

Objectively,
they are safer now than when they first ran away.

Anyway,
since it's "only a story" and
most everyone around Skyla
is trying to be compassionate,
why don't we do the same
and just cut them
(and The Writer!)
some slack and see how it all turns out?

Maybe then we can all get somewhere... Together.

Reviewer: Amanda Lynn Signed Report
Date: 07/09/18 01:33 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

Skyla has trust issues. Don't blame her, after all she's been through she's put up a wall of protection so she doesn't get hurt. More to it too, but I'll save it for another review when I know more.

Reviewer: Amanda Lynn Signed Report
Date: 07/05/18 07:01 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

I have no problem with what is going on here.
Both sides are struggling to understand something they dont understand. Monica is correct, there is more to being female than the clothes, the walk and the talk. If Skyla does not feel and think she is female, no amount of clothing or makeup will make her one. Like she was told, do you want to be or just want the theatrics of being female?
I believe Skyla is in the best possible place she could be. These people will not judge her and truly want what's best for her, if that means being Skyla than so be it. But, if it's a confused Timothy, than that will be also.
It is only by Skyla confronting who they are that they will find out who they are.

Reviewer: Sammy1997 Signed starstarstarstarstar Report
Date: 07/02/18 08:48 pm Title: Chapter 14 / Monica's Diary: Saturday, July 1

I have never been more afraid for a character than i am for skyla right now. She needs to be protected at all costs... this is why i dont like religion. Nothing is wrong with Sky ffs great story though really you have me on the edge of my seat

Reviewer: Sammy1997 Signed Report
Date: 06/28/18 08:50 am Title: Chapter 13 / Monica's Diary: Friday, June 30

Im worried for Skyla 😞 i dont believe for a second this family will treat her like the girl she is. They just want to “cure” her when there is nothing wrong with her! Ironically im praying she goes with somebody like Oliva

Reviewer: Sammy1997 Signed Report
Date: 06/25/18 04:19 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

Is it wrong to hope skyla eventually ends up living with olivia? These religious stooges dont sound good for her at all

Reviewer: Amanda Lynn Signed Report
Date: 06/12/18 04:02 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

Wondering which direction You are going on this? Who are you planning on "curing" in this story?
I hope the father and church members get the education.

Author's Response: Dear Amanda, Your reaction was the one I was hoping for. Many years ago, I saw the movie Gettysburg. During the intermission, I overheard another theatergoer say; “I don’t understand. Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?” Only the disingenuous would say that there were not good, decent, and truly God-fearing men on both sides of that conflict. Having taught many children like Skyla and having had a dear, dear friend who was, in the words of John Irving describing Roberta Muldoon in The World According to Garp, “in her heart of hearts . . . a woman, but in her body of bodies . . . a male”, I have found it impossible not to recognize the sincerity, validity, and pain of a transgender person. Of course, most Christians and most transgender people flee from each other and content themselves with the construction of straw men suitable only for torching. Well over a year ago now, a lady I carpooled with related to me how that when she and her family were living in the Texas panhandle they heard screaming outside their house. Her husband went to investigate and found a teenage girl who, along with a boy, had escaped from a juvenile detention home in the area. The boy had immediately abandoned her, and she was in a state of exhaustion, dehydration, and near hysteria. Of course, they fed her, care for her, and eventually turned her over to the authorities. I immediately thought that that incident would make the beginning of a good story of some kind. Only later did it occur to me to wonder what would happen if a person truly TG met a family truly Christian. Neither would try to “cure” the other, but neither would compromise their convictions. Under such circumstances, could an accommodation be reached? The Visitor is neither a Christian nor a TG fairy tale but is as close to reality as I have been able to observe. I myself didn’t know how it was going to end until it did. Cordially, School Belle

Reviewer: Amanda Lynn Signed Report
Date: 06/05/18 10:18 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

This is such a sympathetic story. I love it. Can't wait for more.

Reviewer: Kathryn Mayhew Signed starstarstarstarstar Report
Date: 05/24/18 11:38 pm Title: The Visitor Chapter 3 / Monica's Diary: Saturday, June 10

I'm really enjoying this story, Belle - I can't wait to see how it continues. I hope Skyla has a happy ending eventually - and I really love the way you're making the Christian family actually christian in action, not just words. I think it reflects the best of what their faith can offer, rather than what we see on TV and the News too often. Its refreshing to see the religious people in a story be the actual good guys. Love it!

Reviewer: Amanda Lynn Signed Report
Date: 05/22/18 10:40 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

Wow! You have captured the feelings of what a Christian would feel. I hope they learn what is true, they seem to be reasonable.

Reviewer: Trismegistus Shandy Signed starstarstarstarstar Report
Date: 05/21/18 09:50 pm Title: The Visitor Chapter 2 / Monica's Diary: Friday, June 9

This is one of the best stories of recent years on Fictionmania, and I'm glad to see you posting it here. The characterization is amazing.

However, you need to post all the chapters under a single story entry, instead of using "Add New Story" for each chapter. Instead, edit the story you already posted, then click "Add New Chapter".

Another suggestion: TGStorytime's word count limit per chapter is 15,000 words, but many readers here prefer shorter chapters. I tend to break my stories up into 3,000-5,000 word chapters. Some won't read a story if the chapters are too long.

Author's Response: Thank you, thank you, thank you! I appreciate your taking the time to show me some of the ropes. I shall attempt to follow your advice.

Reviewer: TerrieCheerleader Signed Report
Date: 05/19/18 03:14 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

I hope that Skyla gets her wish, to be love for who she really is. Please continue

Reviewer: Tessarion Signed starstarstarstarstar Report
Date: 05/17/18 06:21 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

Really emotionally powerful. Good choice of narrator (though I can't help but cringe whenever anyone uses masculine pronouns to refer to Skyla, even though I know it's in character).

Also, just as a note for the summary- "transgender" is supposed to be used as an adjective, not a noun- Skyla's a transgender girl, not "a transgender."

Reviewer: snowangel Signed starstarstarstarstar Report
Date: 05/17/18 04:46 pm Title: Monica's Diary: Monday, June 5

wow what a great start. had my emotions going up and down here. but really great start and cant wait to read more

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