Cactus And Snow | Teen Ink

Cactus And Snow

July 3, 2019
By Duskmoon22, San Marcos, Texas
More by this author
Duskmoon22, San Marcos, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Author's note:

This is my first book. I know there are lots of mistakes, but I hope you enjoy! I will enter other pieces in the future.


“Newman Drive, we are approaching Newman Drive!” my bus driver Carly called over the loudspeaker. Her voice sounded big and loud, like a scratchy tape recording, but mixed with an elephant's voice.


“Oh, that's my stop,” I told my friends. I looked out the window and smiled at my house. It was pretty big, and it was on the best street in the neighborhood, where they gave out jumbo bars on Halloween. “See ya later.” One of my best friends, Alessandra, waved as she watched me walk off the bus onto the sidewalk. I had at least twelve best friends, and I was proud of that.


My “status” at school was pretty good, as I could tell. I was one of the most popular kids, but in a discreet way. Like, I didn't try to be popular, I just was. My group of people at school were the slightly-nerdy, smarter-than-a-lot-of-other-people kids. If my lunch table was a castle, I was the Queen. And I consider myself to be a “geek”, not a “dork”, thank you very much.


I held my little sister Maya's hand tightly. “No thanks!” she said. Maya, being the first grader that she was, always tried to break the rules, as long as it wasn't a deadly thing.


“Hold my hand when you cross the street,” I told her as we crossed to my house.


“Okay, Ebby.” We approached the house to see my mom wasn't home yet. Only my ninth-grade sister, Jen, was in the house. “We're ho-ome!” Maya and I collapsed into a fit of giggles. Yelling this whenever we came home was like a tradition since Maya had started school. I am in fifth grade, so I still ride the same bus as Maya. But there was only 2 days left until summer vacation, counting today, and then I would switch to riding the Middle-High School bus with my older sister. I still went with Maya to Markston Elementary until next year.


“How did your competition go?” I asked Jen. Jen snowboarded, which was a pretty big sport at her private school, Chad-Ridge Preparatory School, and today was the all-county championships.


“It was great! I landed a Backside 540,” Jen smiled, but her smile soon turned upside down. ”But I crashed on my second run and ended up in third place.”


Maya gasped in delight. “Jenny, that's a-m-a-y-z-i-n-g! I wanna be just like you when I grow up!”


I laughed. I didn't really know what she was talking about but I concluded it was something good. “But Jen, that is really good. Third out of the whole county? Awesome!”


Jen grinned. “Thanks, you guys. But Maya, didn't I tell you to stop calling me Jenny? I am in high school now! Hmm, when did I tell you to stop? I think it was...” Jen scratched her head as if she was thinking. “... last year!” Jen looked at Maya. “Whaddaya gonna say about that ?”


Maya had a spunky smile on her face. “I'm gonna say this!” Maya broke into song. ”Jenny... Jenny Jenny Jenny...Jenn- “


Jen pounced on Maya like a cat. “Ha! Gotcha now!” Jen proceeded to tickle Maya until she started crying with laughter. I started laughing at what was happening. This was still going on when my mother walked through the door.


“Hey, what's going on here?” she asked.


“Oh, hi, Mom,” I said.


“Mama!” said Maya. She raced up to our mother's feet and hugged her legs.


“Hello, Kathy,” said Jen. Jen had started calling mom by her first name, Katherine, or Kathy for short, since she had started high school. I don't really know why, but I think it's because she wanted to sound older. She might also say Kathy because Mom doesn't really like being called by her first name by her own child. Mom once said, “If you have a kid, it's good to take advantage of being called 'Mom', because you don't have any other chances.” I always thought that was strange because she also had Maya and I, but, you know, Mom is Mom.


Also, my Dad disappeared years ago. But Mom won't say much about him. She mostly avoids that conversation. But all she says is “He—he's in Japan. For work.”


Mom walked over to the fridge. “I got some celery at the Farmer's Market. Anyone want celery salad?” We groaned. “With boiled eggs.” We groaned again. “And shaved bottarga for dinner?” We all groaned. I figured I was the only one out of my sister who actually knew what bottarga was. I had a reputation as “brainy”. “Ha!” My mom laughed. “Thought so!” She opened the fridge and got out a lemon, parsley, onion, and the eggs. Then she went to the cupboard and got out bread, olive oil, and the salt and pepper shakers. “Ebony, set the table, would you?” she asked me.


“Sure.” I set the table as she started to make dinner. I looked over and saw the rest of my family. Jen was on her laptop and Maya was playing with some toy animals.


“Girls, dinner is served!” I heard my mom tell us about 10 minutes later.


“Okay.” I went to wash my hands. I heard pounding footsteps from Maya and Jen running down the hall as I came to sit at the dinner table. Soon, everyone was gathered at the table. Mom put a dish in front of us, and we each chose portions, except for Maya. She just took her spoon and dug into the dish. Then she put it in her mouth.


Maya frowned. “Yucky. Mama, can I have Mac and Cheese instead?”


Mom raised one eyebrow, then smiled. “Alright. I'll heat up the Mac and Cheese from yesterday's lunch for you.” She left to go heat it up.


“Yay!” said Maya.


I looked around quickly. Not like anyone was there. Then I turned to Jen. “Do you think Mom is acting strangely? She never gives us SEPARATE meals for dinner!” I whispered to her.


“Yeah,” she whispered back. “I wonder if it has to do with Dad--” She was cut off when Mom walked back into the room with a bowl of Mac and Cheese in her hands. She set it in front of Maya. Maya looked down at the bowl in happiness.






Mom sat back down at her seat and took a spoonful out of her portion of the meal. She slowly took the spoon out of her mouth and sighed. Then she looked at each of us, one by one, straight in the eyes. Well, all of us but Maya, who was looking down at her bowl and eating as fast as she could. Mom chewed her fingernails for a moment, then looked at us again. “Girls, I have something to tell you.” Jen and I looked at each other. Mom looked from Maya to me to Jen. “We're moving. At the start of summer.”


Now might be a good time to tell you about when my dad left. It happened, like, ten or so months ago. It was kind of a surprise to Ebony and me. I'm not sure about Maya. She just thinks Richard (Dad) left but will probably come back in a few months.


Why he left was, well, I don't exactly know. They never fought, my parents, or argued. We were a perfect family. Then Richard, he just up and left us all alone. Richard designed video games. Ever heard of Rush Kids or Monster Mania? Those were made by him and his company. Richard is a goofy guy. Maybe that's why Kathy fell in love with him.


Richard's video games got us a lot of money, so we were always wealthy, even now. If you can't tell, I'm close to my dad. Like, really close. He was the one who got me into snowboarding. He taught me the rules, and I've memorized each one. I have the sheet of paper with the written out rules on my wall above my bed. The rule I always remember is how to do an Ollie:

How to do an Ollie:

Step 1:
Start. Then crouch down and build up energy. Keep looking forward- I know you'll look at your board, Jennifer!

Step 2:

Keep your weight on your feet, lift your nose off the ground and spring up off the tail.
Step 3:
While you're in the air,shift your weight to the center of the board so that the board is level. Bring your knees to your chest as you do this, as it will let you have more hang time.
Step 4:
Mostly straighten your knees, but not all the way, before the impact and land on both feet. Once you've got the landing on both feet part you can try landing nose first instead, but then try to settle back in.
When you land, bend your knees some more on the impact to get through the landing. Once you feel balanced again you can stand up, (TRY TO DO THIS! I know it's hard, but try to get through it!) but remember to get into your regular snowboarding stance.
I was only kind of interested in snowboarding before dad left. But then I didn't even know he was going to leave, or else I would've gotten a lot more interested in snowboarding, especially since my dad was teaching me.


But after he left, I really got into snowboarding. It's now, like, my sport. Snowboarding is actually really fun. My favorite trick is the Ollie, as shown above. I couldn't do it before he left, and, after he left, I started practicing. I practiced until I could do it, then I did variations of the Ollie that actually turned out to be real moves.


Once I figured I was pretty good, I had Kathy enter me in a town competition, and I easily won. I didn't know I was that good! With all my practice, I was better than I expected. So I kept with snowboarding. I plan to be an Olympic snowboarder, because then Richard might come back to watch me. Richard and I are pretty similar, except for the fact that Ebony has his brownish black hair and Maya and I have my mother's honey-colored hair. But Richard and I have the same dark brown eyes. Maybe that's what connects us.


I see the world as a pretty weird place, same as my dad. And I think High School is also pretty weird. Middle School was less weird, I'm pretty sure... except for the geckos in the science lab. THAT was weird. And I have a DEATHLY fear of geckos. And that fear started one fateful day.


What happened on that fateful day was a mystery to everyone except for Ms. Blackburn's fifth period class in seventh grade. We were in the lab, and while watching a nature video, I happened to look up at the air vent and what should I see but twenty geckos crawling down from the ceiling. As you may have guessed, I freaked out. I screamed and closed my eyes and accidentally knocked over the fish tank. I was picked on for a week! What an embarrassing kid I was. (But that doesn't mean I'm not still afraid of geckos.) Oh, memories.


I wasn't paying much attention at dinner until Mom dropped her bomb. “Girls, I have something to tell you. We're moving. At the start of summer.”


I was shocked. Why are we even moving? Where? I've been in Colorado for so long, it's going to be hard to give everything up and move away. Will it be forever? I have so many good memories, and will I forget them? And what about Richard?


“Moving! Where to?” I asked with a big frown on my face. “I don't want to leave Colorado!”


“Me neither,” Ebony said and slowly got up to put a hand on the top of my chair.


“And definitely not me,” Jenny chimed in.


Mom sighed. “I'm sorry, girls. I know you love Colorado and living here, but I got a job offer as a chef in Kyle, Texas, and Gramma has invited us to live with her. And your Aunt Angel lives in Austin, which is just up the road.”


I could hear my sisters and Mama in the background saying things like, “There's no such thing as 'Kyle'!” and “Of course there is, Ebony. You just haven't heard of it” or “How will I snowboard! There's no snow in Texas!” But I just couldn't stop thinking about my friends and how we all had promised to stay friends (and neighbors, they lived a bit farther down our block) forever. I tried to push out the thought in my mind saying Well, at least we can see Gramma again by shoveling down the rest of my Mac and Cheese.


“Can I be excused from the table, Mama?” I asked, standing up.


“Oh--yes, you may, Maya,” she responded.


I went over to the rug by the dining room and started playing with my animal toys, though I could feel Mama, Ebony, and Jenny's gazes burning into my back.


“'Mr. Lion, how was your hunting trip today?' said Mr. Elephant.” I played with my toys, acting out the voices as I went along.


“'It was mighty fine, friend,' said Mr. Lion.” I heard Jenny's voice join in and she picked up the lion toy.


“That sounds wonderful,” Ebony picked up the giraffe toy. “And I do hope y'all will come over to dinner t'night.”


We all laughed at Ebony's funny sounding Texan accent. I looked over to see my Mama smiling at us. I smiled back. Me and my sisters played toys for a few moments, then I asked Mama a question.


“Mama, what's for dessert tonight?” I turned to her.


“I don't know.”


“Can I help you make it?” I turned to my sisters. “Them too. And could we have vanilla cupcakes?”


“Yeah, I'll help.” Jenny put the lion toy down and got up from the carpet.


“Me, too!” Ebony rose from her knee position and took my hand. I pulled it away. I don't really like to hold hands that much. But sometimes it is good to have a hand in yours. I put my hand back into Ebony's.


Mama began to get the cake mix out of the pantry and we all went into the kitchen.


“Hey, Maya. How do you spell 'dessert'?” Jenny looked at me, and then I felt a ripple of heads turn to look at me.


“Um... d-e-s-s-e-r-t?” I guessed, even though I already knew, at least I thought I knew, it was right.


“Yep!” Ebony ruffled my hair. “How I always remember it: you only want one desert, but you want two desserts!”


I laughed. “Maybe not in Texas!”


I love it when my family has “family time.” I am the youngest, so everyone always treats me like a baby. To be honest, I actually kind of like it. But I am going to be in second grade next year. Can you believe that? Second grade! I really can't act young anymore, especially since soon we're moving to Texas, and I can be a new person in Texas. But I'm not sure I really want to be a new person yet.


I think next year will be pretty fun, because it might be my first year in Texas, and my second year in real school with my sisters. But Ebony's moving up a level to Chad-Ridge next year with Jenny, maybe, so I'm not totally sure what's going to happen.


We spent the rest of the evening making cupcakes. I helped whip the batter. The cupcakes turned out pretty good. I absolutely love vanilla. I think it's because my Daddy loved vanilla, but almost everyone in my family loves vanilla, except for Ebby. She just doesn't care for vanilla. My sister thinks she's crazy, but Mama says it's just a phase she'll probably grow out of.


“Hey, isn't it time for Maya to go to bed?” I glared at Jenny when she said this. She stuck out her tongue at me.


“Yes, I suppose it is,” Mama kissed me on the cheek, then looked at Ebony and Jenny. “Can you two tuck her in? Thank you.”


It's true. I do feel pretty tired. I closed my eyes softly, but then reopened them. I didn't want my sisters seeing me get tired. “You told us you weren't tired, Maya!” they'd say.


Then I felt Ebony's hand on my back, and we went into me and Ebby's bedroom. The last thing I felt before I fell asleep was Jenny's peck on my cheek.


Right before I surrendered to darkness, I thought one thing. Why did Daddy leave us? Was it because of me? I don't think so. But I know Daddy will come back. I don't know if it is just my imagination, but I have a sneaking suspicion that everything will probably turn out good in the end. That means, hopefully, Daddy will come back.


I woke up the next morning with a grin on my face. Not because I had crazy hair (which annoyed my sisters and made me laugh) but because I knew it would be a good day. For me, it is always a good day, but today, I had a feeling it will be extra-good.


The next day, I was woken up by a little voice yelling in my ear. I think it said “Ebny! Cm..on! Wk... up... Eby...pls?” It was actually Maya talking to me. She was shaking me and saying “Ebony! Come on! Wake up. Ebby!Please?”


“What...?” I drowsily leaned forward and rubbed my eyes.


“The bus! We have to go! Don't you remember it's the last day of school? We have to say goodbye to our friends!” She looked at me like I was stupid.


“Oh... OH! We have to go!” I quickly got dressed with a fringed top with the words “Girls Rule The World” printed on my shirt, careful not to wake up Jen, who was sleeping in the top bunk of our bed.


I don't feel sad, or angry anymore. The feeling is more like anxiety, or maybe excitement.


Maya and I walked to the bus stop and waited about two or three minutes before the bus arrived. I got on the bus and smiled at the bus driver warmly and got to my regular place. Then I slid in next to Alessandra and Jessica.

{insert picture}


“Hey, guys.”


“Hi, Ebony,” Jessica said.


I looked at my friends. “Guys, I have something to tell you. I'm moving.”


Alessandra and Jessica looked at each other. “Um, yeah, we know,” Jessica said.




“We're all moving to Chad-Ridge next year,” Alessandra added.


“No,” I sighed. “I'm moving to Texas.”


Alessandra and Jessica looked at each other, then at me. “Texas?” said Alessandra. “You're moving to Texas? Where? Why? When?”


“And how?” Jessica continued.


“Whoa, slow down. I'll explain everything. Yes, we're moving to Texas. Kyle, to be exact. We need to go there because my Mom got a job there. Plus, Gramma said that we could move in with her. I guess it was too much of a good offer to resist.”


“What? That's crazy.” Jessica put her hand on her forehead and slicked her bangs back. “When are you moving? Will we ever see you again?”


“We're moving soon. I started getting my things packed late last night. I hope I will see you guys again!” I said. “I wish I could stay here, but it's just not in my control.”


“I was really hoping we could fulfill our promise and graduate from Chad- Ridge Prep together.” Alessandra looked at the ground. “We'll really miss you.”


“Yeah. Honestly, Ebony, please come back A-S-A-P if you can.” Jessica smiled. Then we all did a group hug.


“Remember to call us, Ebony,” Alessandra said as she took a Snapchat of us.


“And email. Even letters!” Jessica said as the bus pulled into the school driveway.


“Okay, you know I will!”


We walked off the bus, hearing the “ding” sound of the bus passes getting scanned. My shoulder strap satchel fell to the floor and my stuff scattered everything. “Ack!” I said. My friends waited for me as I hurriedly cleaned up my stuff.


Jessica picked up something off the ground. “What's this?” she asked. “Which Flower Is That?: A Handbook to Texas Wildflowers?” She looked at me questioningly.


“Look!” Alessandra pointed at something else. “An Idiot's Guide to Texan Accents. What's this, Ebony?”


I stuffed the rest into my bag and stood up, putting my hair behind my ear. “My mom gave them to me. She... just wanted me to be prepared, okay?”


Jessica and Alessandra laughed as we strode into Markston Elementary on our last day of school. Alessandra was in the same class as me, so we said our goodbyes to Jessica and sat down in our desks for class. Naturally, she sat next to me.


“Everyone line up for Graduation day!” my teacher, Mr. Maxwell, said as he arranged us into alphabetical order. My last name is Carter, so I stood close to the front of the line. I had practically memorized my spot in line. In front of me was Marcus Brooks, and behind me was Lilith Christensen. We all walked to the gym/cafeteria/stage in silence, though you could hear the whisperings of a few chatty kids.


When we got to the stage, our principal was standing on top of a few pillars and was speaking. We all quickly filed to our seats. I heard the last of his sentence:


“...And I hope you will enjoy watching the children's growth throughout the year!”


He began calling classes up. First was Mrs. Henson's class, then Ms. Lacey's class. Finally, it was our turn.


“Will Mr. Maxwell's class please come to the stage?” he asked.


I followed my classmates up to the stage as Mr. Maxwell said a few words. We were each called to the center of the stage after that. Soon, they called my name.


“Ebony Carter?”


I walked to the middle of the stage. Everyone clapped. I looked down into the audience of parents and saw Mom. I waved at her, and she smiled. In the background, I could faintly hear the principal, Mr. Riggs, saying something along the lines of “she had outstanding work in science” or “she has passed to sixth grade”. It was over quick.


It took about twenty-five minutes for the rest to finish up. Then it was time for awards. I was used to this. It was mainly a recognition for students. I had won one time, when I was in kindergarten. I got the “Most Polite” award.


They called students up one by one. Henry Fork won the politeness award this year, not me. As they were finishing, the vice-principal, Mrs. July, ran on. She whispered something to the principal.


“Wait! There is one more award to be made. Ebony Carter has been awarded as the student of the year!” He announced.


Me? The student of the year? I thought as the crowd clapped thunderously.


As I took the award from the principal, I thought but one thing:


This is the last thing I'll ever receive in Colorado.


Today when I woke up I felt unusually tired. I rolled over onto my back. I got out of bed and suddenly fell down. Did I fall out of the bunkbed I shared with Ebony again? Apparently not, because I landed on my feet in some sort of tree. Wait, a tree?


I shook my head for a second and then looked around. It was a grassy landscape. Then I slapped myself. This can't be happening, I told myself. Then I started feeling dizzy...qs%dwlkeoyg*u07&t8h7n@27txI(OJ28\#CE)r


I woke in a flash. A dream! Of course it was a dream. Wait, where am I? I looked up and saw my geology teacher, Ms. “Rocky” Lovewell, talking. Then I looked at my computer screen below me. The pieces all fit: I had fallen asleep on my computer!


I quickly deleted the gibberish writing and looked at the time. Eleven-fifty-one. Almost time for lunch, which means that it was fifth period.


I wonder how long I'd been sleeping? I certainly don't remember even going to school. I guess I was out of it or something. But I really hope I didn't do anything embarrassing.


BRRR-ING! Was that the bell? I quickly gathered my things as I heard Ms. Lovewell talking to us. “...And remember to always know sedimentary rocks from igneous ones! You'll need this info for the future, I tell you!” ...Or something like that.


I walked down the hall to the cafeteria and pondered what to buy. Fish fingers or chicken nuggets? Or, the everyday option of pizza. I decided on fish fingers and then bought myself a soft-serve ice cream. I think I should treat myself, because this was the last day, and so I bought the cotton candy flavor. Then I looked around for my friends. Where are they?


Ding! A text on my phone? I looked to see it was from Kaitlyn, my BFF. It read:

:)Kaitlyn;): hi Jen can u meet us @ cortyrd? Thx. (This meant that Kaitlyn wanted to meet at the courtyard for lunch.)


12J.E.N.C.12 (me): GR8. See u then.


I went out the double doors into the courtyard area and quickly spotted our little friend group of four people, not counting me: Kaitlyn, Margie, Yvonne, and Charlotte. They saw me and waved me over excitedly. When I arrived, Margie immediately started talking. “Jen! There's this thing we wanted to show you!”


“Yeah. Here's the brochure.” Charlotte pulled a slip of paper out of her pocket as I sat down. Yvonne took it from her and began reading out loud. “'Heartroot Studio's Yoga Camp Under the Stars'! 'An overnight yoga, astronomy, and hiking camp for girls who are dreamers'. 'Girls ages fourteen to sixteen only'! This is perfect for us!” she said excitedly.


“Yeah,” Kaitlyn added. “And me, Charlotte, Yvonne and Margie's moms have agreed to let us go. It's only forty dollars! Or do you have other plans?”


The camp sounded so fun! But I couldn't go. “Sorry, guys, but I can't come,” I said sadly.


“But there are different weeks. We could find a time for you! What time won't work?” Margie asked.


“All summer. I'm moving to Texas! Forever and ever! For my whole life, probably.” I crossed my arms in front of me.


My friends looked at me. “Does that mean--” Charlotte started.


“That we'll never see you again?” Kaitlyn frowned and looked worried.


“I guess so.” I sighed sullenly.


“Well...” Yvonne said.


“... We'd better make the best of this. Let's make Jen have the best last day ever!” Kaitlyn continued.


I wiped a (small) tear from my eye. “Thanks, guys. And we'll definitely stay in touch, even when I leave!”


“Of course.” Margie put an arm around my shoulder, and Charlotte put her hand on my other shoulder. “Of course.”


As soon as I got out of bed, I knew what I had to do. First: get up Ebony.


I tiptoed into Ebony/Jenny's room and shook Ebby to get up. She wouldn't get up, so I yelled (softly) in her ear. That got her up.


Soon we got on the bus. None of my friends ride the bus, so I brought a coloring book to pass the time. What should I do first? I thought to myself. A pony. I decided on a pony, and by the end of the bus ride, I had colored two ponies, three butterflies, and one zebra fish (don't ask).


“Is everyone off the bus?” I heard a voice come from the bus's loudspeaker.


“Oh!” I got too intrigued in my work that I forgot to get off the bus! “Miss Harris, I'll be right off!”


I like to call the teachers at my school “Miss” because--well, I'm not really sure. I just think of it as polite.


Miss Harris sighed. “Again, Maya? Not on the last day of school!” she said as I walked out the bus doors.


I quickly caught up with the rest of the line as we strode through the doors single-file.


I went to my classroom and saw my friends Farrow and Holly.


“Farrow! And Holly! I have something to tell you,” I said to them.


“And I have something to tell you guys!” Farrow answered.


“I'm moving!” we both said at the same time.


“Huh?” Holly looked back and forth at us. “What do you mean?”


“You're moving too?” Farrow looked at me. “Where?”


I looked back at him. “Texas. What about you?”


“Wow, Texas! I'm only moving to U... U.... U-something,” he said back.


My teacher Miss Delaney came over. “Utah, perhaps?” she asked him.


“Yup! That's it,” he said to her and smiled at us. “Utah.”


After she left, we met up at our “Secret Base,” a small section of the loft that only kids could get into and the teachers couldn't see.


“You're moving too?” Holly asked me. “And Farrow just said he was moving. I'll have nobody to play with.”


“Yeah, you will, Holly!” I said. “You are really popular.”


“I guess...” Holly responded. “... But it won't be the same.”


“It'll be okay,” Farrow added.


“Texas will be so fun! I can't wait until I move!” I said as we made our way down from the “Base” for snacktime.


“Oh...” Holly said looking at the floor.


“Honestly,” I added in. “It'll be absolutely GREAT! My mom says everything in Texas is big, so I bet the ice cream cones will be HUGE!”


A tear fell from Holly's eye. “I can't believe you, Maya!” she cried.


“What?” Farrow looked at me. “You're making Holly cry! Don't you know that she'll miss us once we're gone?” Then Farrow glared at me. “That's mean, Maya.”


“What--” I started to say as he started a chant.


“Me-an Maya! Me-an Maya! Me-an Maya!” he said, pumping his fists up and down.


A few other kids joined in. “Me-an Maya! Me-an Maya!”


More kids taunted me. “Me-an Maya!”


Soon, the whole class joined in. Even Holly, who was still crying a little. I saw the teachers trying to calm everyone down. It wasn't working. “Me-an Maya! Me-an Maya! Me-an Maya! Me-an Maya!”


This was too much for me. I sat down criss-cross-applesauce and put my hands over my ears. I could feel my eyes beginning to water.


“Me-an Maya! Me-an Maya! ME-AN MAYA! ME-AN MAYA!”


I couldn't take it anymore. I started crying.


“What? STOP IT, EVERYONE!” said Miss Delaney franticly. Nobody listened to her.


The other teacher, Miss Charlene, was a slim woman with a “Ms. Charlene” nametag on her shirt.


She talked to us for a few minutes with stuff like “Really, on the last day of school,” and “Remember to be kind to your peers,” and things like that.


But even after she talked to us, Farrow and my classmates still glared at me.


I hope I can make friends in Texas. And I hope they won't hate me if I say something wrong on accident, like today.


Me and Alessandra were still talking when the assembly was over. We tried to walk towards the buses but we were pushing against the tide. The crowd was just too strong. Suddenly, I heard a voice calling my name.


“Do you hear that?” I looked at Alessandra. “A voice. Calling my name!”


“Hmm...” Alessandra put her hand up to her ear over-dramatically. “Actually, I do hear it.”


We walked towards the sound of the voice.


“Ebony! Ebony... Ebony!”


Then I recognized the voice. Or voices, should I say. It was my Aunt Angelina and Mom!


“Mom! Angel!” I called through the crowd as it died down.


We call our Aunt Angelina “Angel” because the first time we met her (about three years ago), I called her “Aunt,” Jenny called her “Aunt Angelina,” and Maya called her “Auntie.” I think that might've annoyed her or something, because she laughed and said, “I'm your mother's younger sister. Calling me 'Aunt' sounds too old. I'm only twenty-one, you know!”


At this point, Jenny had said, “Then what should we call you?”, to which she responded, “Hmm... call me 'Angel', or 'Angelina' like my friends do. Okay?”


Now, Mom and Angel approached me.


“Hey kid, what's up?” Angel said. “We've come to take you home.”


I said my goodbyes to Alessandra and went with Angel and Mom.


“What are you doing here, Angel?” I asked as we walked out the school doors.


“I told ya! I'm here to take you,” she said.


“Take me where?” I asked as we got into the family van.


“Texas!” Angel responded.


“What?” I asked again.


I buckled my seatbelt and looked to my left to see Jen. And Maya was in the back! Was she serious?


“Well, not yet, darling,” said Mom as she slid into the front seat. “We first have to pack. We've got a lot of work to do in the next few days.”


I heard Maya talking in the back seat. “...And I'm going to bring Mr. Porky, and Lulubelle, and everyone else too! Including Barker!”


These were all Maya's stuffed animals except for Lulubelle, our family cat. She's very silky and soft, she's a Bengal breed, and she's still a kitten. Mr. Porky is, in fact, not a pig, but a porcupine. Barker is a small dog the size of your palm that our great-grandma Celestine sewed for her.


I didn't think that we were going to move so soon!


We soon arrived at our house. A huge moving van was parked in the driveway. I was shocked to see how much of our stuff was already in boxes. My Mom and Angel had had a busy day, it seemed. Angel stood on the couch, put her hands on her hips, and announced, “Okay, everyone! Put your packed boxes here and Macho Man Angelina will bring them to the van!”


“Okay,” Mom said, with one eyebrow raised (but still smiling), “Now will Macho Man Angelina please get off of the couch?”


“Fine, fine,” Angel said, throwing her hands up while jumping off the couch. Then she stuck her tongue out. “Fine, Macho Mama,” she said under her breath.


“What was that?” Mom looked over at Angelina with a smile.


“Nothing! Absolutely nothing!” Angel responded.


Mom grinned, put both hands on Angel's back, and pushed her down the hall. “Go on, get outta here.”


Angelina giggled like a child and trotted down the hall to the bathroom with a cardboard box in her hands.


“Mom,” I asked, “where should I put my stuff?”


Mom put her hand out toward the window. “We will be using the van, but only with overnight stuff and things we need regularly. We're going to have Angelina drive the moving van. And we're going to use the regular van. So pack both a backpack and a suitcase, plus the boxes, okay?” She looked down the hall. “DID YOU HEAR THAT, GIRLS?” she yelled.


We heard a few yells with “OKAY, KATHY,” and “YES, MAMA,” and “WE'LL GET RIGHT TO IT!”


“Um, okay,” I responded to Mom, then raced down the hall to me and Jen's bedroom.


When I arrived, I looked around. What should I bring?, I asked myself.


First I packed my suitcase with plenty of clothes and shoes. Then I packed my backpack for the trip with a notepad, a pack of colored pencils, and a few books. I also sneaked a bag of kitty treats for Lulubelle. I knew she would cry the whole way to Texas, so maybe the “Fishy Delights” would help her to calm down.


There was still room left in my backpack, so I packed my Video Game System (with Dad's game Rush Kids ) and one movie. I have recently been into a series called The Cloud's Reverse. It's a TV show about a man who plans to wipe out all of the people in the world by this thing called “Planet Reduction,” which makes the clouds rain paralyzing juice. It's really stupid, which is kind of why I like it.


I then took most of my things and put them in boxes. It felt kind of sad seeing items like my lava lamp and my mini library thing that my dad made for me taken apart and put away for Texas.


As I finished packing, I looked around my room. It was almost bare! I think I'm actually getting excited about moving. I just wonder what will happen next!


I turned to see Ebony looking around the room with her hands on her hips. “What's up?” I asked her.


“Oh--” Ebony blushed and put her hand on her neck. “I was just thinking about how it might actually be cool in Texas after all!”


Angelina must have been listening to us, because she chimed in with, “Well, the weather certainly isn't cool!”


We all laughed. Then Angelina started talking. “You guys done? 'Cause it's time to load the van!” She picked up a box, then put a medium-sized box in Maya's hands. “You think you can carry this? It's kind of heavy!”


Maya grinned and took it from her. “Yep, Auntie Angie!”


Angelina raised her eyebrow. “Remember? I told ya not to call me 'Aunt' or 'Auntie'! But you can call me 'Angie'!”


Maya tilted her head to the side. “Okay, Angie!” She paraded out of the room with her backpack on.


I picked up a box. “Whoa, this is heavy! What's in this?”


Angelina smiled. “Only your father's bowling ball! You sure you can carry it?”


“You betcha!” I walked clumsily but steadily out of the room. I arrived in the living room to see our bunkbed all taken apart and in a box. Kathy was standing next to it.


“Kathy!” I said, putting the box down. “Where do I put the boxes?”


“In the moving van,” Kathy replied.


I strode to the van and stacked the box on top of the others. The van was already half full, so I stacked it on the left hand side. Just then, Ebony arrived carrying another cardboard box.


The time flew by as we packed. “Okay, everyone!” I heard a yell from inside the house. “Time for dinner!” It was Kathy. “Tonight's the night for... quesadillas!”


That was one of my favorite foods! I walked inside and sat down on my chair. Maya had made place cards for us with little “spirt (spirit, I think she means) animals” for us. Mine was an elephant, which happens to be my favorite animal. The drawing was cute. I looked around at the rest of the family's “spirt animals”. Maya made a dog one for herself, a mouse one for Kathy, a whale one for Ebony, and a chickadee one for Angelina. These are probably not our spirit animals (and they are our favorite animals), but they're close enough.


We all sit down for dinner. I grab the salsa and Maya grabs the sour cream.


“Hey, pass the salsa over here once you're done with it!” Angelina said to me.


“Okay!” I responded. I passed the salsa down to her end of the table and dug into my food.


“Yum, Kathy, this is really good! Did you make it homemade?” I asked her between bites.


“Yeah,” Kathy blushes. “I made it at work today. It came out really good, huh?”


“Definitely!” I said happily.


Kathy works as a chef at one of the most popular restaurants in Colorado. Or should I say, worked. I guess the Texas job paid her more money. The restaurant she used to work at is called The Four Leaf Clover and she used to be the head chef there. Kathy also told me that the new restaurant she's going to work at is called Wilted Rose, and apparently they have more customers and it's “the second best restaurant in Texas”. But I dunno about that.


I was pulled back into the conversation when Kathy announced that there was an indoor snowboarding center close to Gramma's house.


“You really mean it?” I announced, standing up from the table.


“Yes, honey,” Kathy said. “And please sit down.”


I sat down and anxiously looked at Kathy. “Well, can I go there?”


“Yes, of course you can.” She responded. “Now eat your dinner and we'll get on the road.”


“We're leaving now?” Maya popped in.


“Yep!” Angelina said with a grin. “We'll stay overnight and arrive by tomorrow evening, at the most!”


“I was wondering why we're eating dinner at four o'clock! Now I know why!” Ebony raised her eyebrows.


When we were all done with dinner, we grabbed our backpacks.


Kathy looked at us. “You sure you have everything?' She asked us.


“Yeah!” I responded.


“Yep!” Ebony said.


“Yep!” Maya copied. “But what about Daddy? Aren't we taking him?”


Kathy had that look on her face like she always does whenever anyone mentions Dad. She exchanged a glance with Angelina. “Oh. Daddy. He... he's still in China. You know. For work.”


“What?” Ebony exclaimed loudly. “Last time, you said he was in JAPAN!”


“Um...” Kathy said, looking at Angel.


“He moved,” She covered. “Okay then!” Angelina said quickly. “Get in the car, girls! I'll see you in a few hours!”


“Wait.” I found myself, much to my surprise, talking back to Angel! “Er, Angelina.”




“And Kathy.”


“Yes, Jennifer?”


“It's Jen.” My relatives looked at me. “Um. Anyhow. I know you're lying, Mom.”


Ebony and Maya both gasped. Ebony thought it was a REALLY bad idea to tell Kathy she was lying, and Maya for, I guess, me calling Kathy “Mom”. Finally.


“Sweetheart...” Kathy looked at me in pain.


All of a sudden, I felt really mad. “No 'sweetheart'. Not now. Don't lie to me about Richard. He's my Dad. Not just your HUSBAND!” I yelled. Then I ran to the car.


As I was getting in the car, I heard a voice. “Wait, Angie!” It was Maya. It seemed she didn't exactly catch what we were talking about.


Angelina looked over. She had the same pained expression on her face, same as Kathrine. “Yes?”


“Hugs!” Maya threw herself on to Angelina. Ebony joined in.


“Okay, y'all.” Angelina finally smiled. “See you cowpokes later!” I could tell it was a feeble attempt on her part to make me feel better. She got into the moving van as we got into the van.


“I'll start a movie for you guys after you've read until it gets dark.” Kathy said.


“Okay.” I got out a book as the car started moving. I felt myself getting tired, so I put the book down. Then I drifted off to sleep. The next time I woke up, I realized I didn't know, still, what had happened with Richard.


I took out a book and started reading it. It was titled Mr. Red Fox Goes Home by Randall Herring. It was about Mr. Red Fox, who goes home after a long day. But then he gets chased by Mrs. Red Hen, who chased him from his home, which she thinks is her home. In the end, Mrs. Red Hen realizes her mistake and they become friends. It was obviously fiction.


I finished my book soon, about fifteen or so minutes after the car started moving.


“Mama,” I asked, “Do you have another book I can read?”


“Well, yes, Sweetie,” Mama responded,”But you should ask your sisters first.”


Ebony had a comic book and a book that was the fifth in a series, (and it was a CHAPTER BOOK, which looked hard!) so I didn't want that, and Jenny had a track and field picture book, which I started reading, but it got very confusing. Jenny also had a book called Karate: Tips and Tricks that looked boring.


I asked again: “Mama, please can I read your book?”


“Well alright,” Mama responded. “But you have to give it back, okay?”


“Okay.” I said.


Mama's book was titled Kyle TX: A Must-Have Guide to Family-Fun Activities in Kyle!


“Mama,” I asked. “What's TX? And what's Kyle?”


“Remember, Kyle is where we're moving to!” Ebony said.


“And TX is just a sign for Texas.” Jenny piped in. I could tell she was still a little mad, though.


“Oh.” I started reading my (or should I say Mama's) book. I lost track of time, and soon it was dark.


“Oh!” Mama exclaimed.


“What?” Ebony asked.


“The hotel! I see it! Already!” Mama said. “This trip's going faster than expected.” She texted Angie on her phone and pulled in.


I could see the moon in the sky. I noticed it was nine-forty-five PM already.


“Hey, kids!” I turned to see Angie behind us. It was so dark, I could barely see her.


“Angie!” I said. I pulled on her hoodie to get her to come inside, and we all walked to the hotel, which was named Camellia Resorts. I saw a bowl of mints at the table while Mama was checking in, so I took one. It tasted like toothpaste.


“Okay, girls, I have a surprise for you,” said Mama excitedly. “try to guess what it is!”


“Um... you're going to buy us soda?” said Ebony.




“You're going to let Lulubelle out of her carrier because she's been suffering for so long?” said Jenny.


“Nope, but that is a good idea,” said Mama as we pressed the elevator button for our floor.


“You're going to stay in Colorado after all?” I asked her.


“Nope, “ Mama said laughing. “We're going to go swimming!”


“What!?” We all said in excitement.


“Is the pool even open that long?” Ebony said.


“Yes, it's open all night. I decided to treat you guys!” Mama said as we arrived at our room door, number seventy-three.


“Yay!” I exclaimed.


“Okay, everyone get into your swimsuits,” Angie said, scrolling on her phone after the door closed. “It shows a picture of the pool on here!” She said. “It's a... you know, that kind of everlasting pool...”


“An INFINITY POOL!?” Ebony said as she came out of the restroom in a pale pink swim team suit with “The Chad-Ridge Jellyfishes” embroidered on the side.


I went to change next, and I heard Ebony's squeal of delight.


“That's, like, the best kind of pool there is!” she said.


Angie started changing in the main room when I came out wearing my leopard print suit.


Mama was changed into a purple one-piece, Jenny was changed into a shimmery blue bikini, and Angie had now changed into a tiger-striped ruffled bikini.


“Twinzies!” Angie hi-fived me as we went back to the elevator.


We made our way back to the front desk area and lounge. Then, we followed the signs (and stairs) until we came to the pool.


It was everything we expected! It was large, an infinity pool, and had a hot tub, too.


“Whoa!” I exclaimed.


“Whoa is right! It's awesome!” Angie said before she cannonballed in. Her dirty-blond hair turned brown and soggy.


I jumped in next. Through my watery goggles, I could tell that Ebony and Jenny jumped in at the same time, holding hands.


When I resurfaced, I looked to the shallow end. Mama was using the steps to slowly “get used to it”. I swam down to the bottom of the pool and saw Angie swim underwater towards Mama. Then, once she got close enough, she splashed her!


“Gyaah!” screamed Mama. She looked over at Angie. “You.” she said. Mama then got that look in her eyes, like a mountain lion hunting it's prey. She got out of the water and walked towards a box. When she came back, she had a water gun labeled “Hydro Blaster” in her hands! She shot a blast full on at Angie's face!


“So that's the way it'll be, hmm?” Angie wiped the water from her eyes. Then she got out and went to the same box.


“I'm on Angie's side!” I announced. Then, I followed Angie and got a water gun called “Water Soaker”


“Well, I'm on Mom's side!” Ebony said, and got another water gun with the name of “Jet Stream”.


“Angelina's for me!” Jenny said, and joined our side armed with a “Power Drencher”.


“Yes!” I said.


“What?” Mama exclaimed. “Two of the girls I BIRTHED won't come to my side? To your own Mother? How RUDE!”


I put my hands on my hips and leaned forward. I stuck my tongue out at her, and finally put my hand out. “Talk to the hand, 'cos the face ain't list'nin!”


“What?” Mama and Angie exchanged glances. “What a sassy girl!” Mama said laughing.


We played until ten-fifty-five when we went back to the hotel room.


I was shivering, but happy.


When we got back, we changed into our pajamas and we all went to bed, including Mama and Angie. I fell asleep to the sound of the stereo in our room's wave sounds.


When I woke up, I didn't realize where I was. Then I remembered. The water gun fight! Staying up until eleven-o'clock! Moving!

I looked around me to see that it was eight-o'clock. Mom, Angel, Jen, and Maya were all up.

“Why hello, sleepyhead!” Angel came over and ruffled my hair. I usually didn't sleep in so late! Six-o'clock is my regular time, almost every single morning. But I guess not today.


“Sorry.” I blushed and changed into my regular clothes.


“It's okay.” Maya said.


“Yep. It'sall good.” Angel winked. “Now let's mosey on down to the lobby to get some food, y'all!”


We all laughed. Then we went down the elevator to the front desk.


“Wait,” Mom said before we checked out. “Let's get food first.”


“Got it.” said Jen. “Now what do we eat?”


“Hmm... how about... Asian food?” Mom answered excitedly, looking over at the hotel's Asian restaurant.


“Yum!” said Maya, and so it was decided.


I chose a Thai Chicken dish, which was really good.


“Alright,” Angel said when we were finishing. “Let's move on.”


“Wait! I'm not done yet!” Maya squealed to Angel.


Mom looked at her thoughtfully. “Well, then let's get a box.”


“Okay.” Maya still looked a little bit upset about not getting to finish her food, though.


We ordered a box and walked out of the entrance.


“Bye, Angel,” I said while hugging her. “See you in Texas!”


We got into our van and started moving. I got on my tablet and pulled up Glitter Girls 3: Sparkles Gets Kidnapped for Maya and laid back to read my book. A while later, I felt the car going along a bumpy path and looked out the window. We were already in Texas!


“Wow!” I said in delight. “Maya, Jen, look!”


They looked over.


“What?” Jen said. “Kathy, where are we? And what's with all the grass? And the cacti?”


Mom looked over at us. “Where do you think?”


Maya laughed. “Texas!”


“That's right!” I pressed my face to the car window to see if it was really true. “Wow.”


Mom smiled. “We're only two miles to Austin, where we'll pit-stop. Then we'll go twenty miles to Kyle, which is where Gramma lives.”


I looked out the window again and saw the cars driving by. The cacti looked prickly, but not like what I imagined. It was so hot! That might explain why there's no snow on the ground. “Cool.”


I watched out the window for the rest of the ride to Austin.


Mom pulled into a café. “We're here.” She said.


“Kyle already?” Jen said, puzzled.


“No,” Mom said, “Austin!”


“It's huge... ” Maya noted, staring up into the sky.


“Yep!” Mom smiled and looked behind me.


I turned around to see Angel getting out of the moving van.


“Hey, Angelina,” Jen said.


“What's up!” She did “jazz hands” and walked over to us at the front of the café.


I wondered why we went here, of all places in Austin. “Why here?” I asked Mom.


“My Mother-- I mean your Gramma-- said that this place had good scones.” she responded. “Who wants a scone?”


“Me!” I raised my hand.


Maya raised her hand. “Me do!”


“It's either 'me too' or 'I do', Maya,” Jen said, raising her hand. “but I want one too!”


“And me!” Angel lifted her hand high in the air.


“Okay, okay.” Mom led us all into the café. The name was “Mermaid's Pearl”.


A girl about nineteen years old was sitting at the front desk. “May I help y'all?” she asked.


Maya, Jen, and I all looked to each other and snickered. The girl (Candy, as her nametag read) had quite a Texan Drawl.


Mom gave us “the look”. “Girls!” she said sternly.


“Sorry,” Maya replied.


Then Mom responded. “Yes, please.”


Candy looked at Mom. “How many?” she asked.


“Oh, just...” said Angel, counting us. Me, Maya, Jen, Mom, and her is six, I noted. “six people.”


“Follow me.” Candy led us to a booth in the back corner and put the menus on the table. “Take your time orderin',” she said walking away.


“Alright,” Mom responded.


Maya studied the menu. “What should I get?”


“The scones are on the back,” Jen said.


I flipped to the back of my menu. Raspberry, Orange Rind, Almond, Mulberry- wait, Almond? Almond is always the greatest kind. It's so good! Almonds are even my favorite kind of nut.


“I'm getting almond,” I announced.


“Cherry for me,” Maya said.


“I think I'll get the Blueberry.” Jen chimed in.


Angel looked at the menu. “I'll get Orange Rind. I love oranges so much!” she squealed.


“We know, we know.” Mom said. “And I'll have the... honey-flavored one.”


“Great.” I said. Then I looked over at Candy, who was approaching.


I am so excited to move to Texas now. Everything is different. Hopefully good, too...


Candy came back with our Scones a few minutes later. A few people (AKA Ebony, Maya, and Angelina) dug right into their scones, but I held back and savored the taste of the blueberries. Yum.


As I finished the last bite, I heard Maya's voice. “I can tell why Gramma chose this place! The food's delicious!”


“Yeah,” I said. “It is pretty good.”


Angelina got up from her chair. “Okay, let's get on the road!” she said.


“Got it.” Kathy paid the bill and gave Candy a tip. Then we walked to the vans. I got in my spot and buckled Maya in. Then, once Ebony was situated and Kathy had her foot on the pedal, we started moving.


I turned on my mp3 player and turned on my jam. I prefer pop music, because it's new (mostly) and I like to be up to date. I didn't even realize that time was passing. I looked out my window when we reached a stop sign and noticed another large sign. It was shaped strangely and had “KYLE TEXAS” printed on it in big letters. On the top of the sign there was a little emblem that I couldn't make out.


“Hey Kathy,” I said. “look at that.”


Maya and Ebony looked over at the same time.


“Cool,” Ebony said and went back to her book.


“We're almost home,” Kathy shouted to the back of the van.


“Mom, we can hear you!” Ebony shouted back at her.


A few minutes later we parked at the foot of an old, large, and quaint house.

“Here we are!” Kathy announced, getting out of the van.


I stepped out of the van and stood back to look at the house. There was a garden at the front with some flowers I recognized, like magnolias and cowbells. There were also some cacti with bright red, orange, and yellow flowers, which I didn't know. The same cacti had weird fruits growing on it too. A few herbs and vegetables were growing on the other side of the lawn and I recognized most of them. The steps going up to the porch had a few potted plants, like a potted cactus and a potted flower-thing hanging from the ceiling. The steps led to the wooden porch which featured mainly a porch swing and the front door.


Maya raced up the steps and sat down on the porch swing. “Swing me, Ebby, swing me!” she said laughing in glee.


Ebony went up and started pushing Maya, so I went up there too. “Get on,” I said to Ebony. “I'll push both of you.”


“Yes!” Ebony sat down and I began pushing them until Angelina came up behind me, careful not to get hit by the swing.


“Get on,” she said to me. “I'll push you all!” As I was getting on, Kathy stopped me.


“Not today. You can do that later.” Kathy said, ringing the doorbell.


We all got to the door as Gramma opened it.


“Kathrine! Angelina! Girls! Come in, come in.” Gramma said as we all piled into her house except for Maya, who stayed behind and gave Gramma a hug before bolting indoors.


“Wait, Maya! I want to hug Gramma too!” Ebony said, approaching Gramma.


“So do I!” I chimed in.


“Same!” said Angelica and Kathy at the same time. Then they laughed. Adults.


Gramma laughed too as we all pulled her into a group hug. “It's so good to see you all again!” she said.


“You too.” I said with a smile.


“Oh! Lulubelle!” Angelina said. “I'll go get her.” she ran out of the room.


Maya looked up the stairs. “Now can we find our bedrooms?” she asked.


Kathy looked at her. “Maya!”


Grandma laughed again. “Oh no, it's quite all right. Feel free to pick a room for yourself. The rooms are upstairs to your right.”


Maya raced upstairs, and Ebony and I followed.


“Can I choose a room first?” I asked Maya and Ebony. I admit, I am feeling a bit excited about this.


“Sure!” Ebony responded.


“Eldest people first!” Maya said in a weird voice, bowing down in front of me then collapsing in a fit of giggles.


I giggled then looked into the room closest to me. It had a “sky” theme, obviously, with a cloudy mural on the wall. It also had a television in the back of the room on the wall. It was pretty big and had a bed in the right corner with a comfy-looking downy white comforter, a fluffy pillow and a reading lamp hanging down from the ceiling. There were also a few beanbag chairs in front of the TV and a big window in the middle of the center wall.


“Cool.” I went into the next room. This one looked to be “library” themed. It featured a few castle-like windows with-to my surprise- a gargoyle on top! On either sides of the windows were massive bookshelves. The bed was a small one and had a regular white pillow and a red and gold comforter and sheets. Next to it lay a desk with a typewriter on it and a catalog of the books in the bookshelves. The desk chair had a comfy cushion and, when I looked up, I saw a chandelier.


“Nice!” I looked into the last room. It had a huge Queen-Sized bed in the middle with a canopy, and it seemed to be “royal” themed. There was a shelf on the right of the bed with a variety of delicacies like seashells and geodes. There were a lot of gems, polished and unpolished. On the bottom shelf there were photo albums and books like “THE SEAFARER'S GUIDE TO THE SHELLS OF THE SEA” and “Minerals And Gems: How To Mitch and Match”. There was a TV in the middle of the room across from the bed. Near the bed was a little dresser with a lamp on it and a TV guide. A desk was in the corner near the TV and it had a computer on it! It also had stationary, pencils, and other school supplies in a cubby under it. The desk chair was a little stool that could spin.


“Awesome!” I exclaimed. Then I thought, What if I could bring our bunkbed into the second room? That would be nice...


Maya broke into my thoughts. “What is it, Jenny?” she asked.


“Well... “ I said. Then I raced downstairs. Kathy, Angelina, and Gramma were chatting. I noticed Angelina had Lulubelle purring in her lap. “Hey Kathy,” I asked excitedly. “can I bring the bunkbed into my room?”


“Um, I guess so?” she responded. Fifteen minutes later, the bunkbed was in. I wondered if she was just letting me do this because she wanted me to forget what had happened earlier with Dad and all that. But no matter. I was just happy to have the bunkbed.


“Yes!” I said, pumping my fist in the air.


“You're welcome,” Angelina smiled as she walked back downstairs.


I laughed. Then I turned to Ebony and Maya. “Did you guys choose a room?” I asked them.


“Oh! Yes!” Maya raced into the cloudy room and put her arms out. “This is my room!” she said, smiling.


“And this is mine.” Ebony walked into the last room and plopped down on the bed.




We all walked downstairs, talking. Kathy, Angelina, and Gramma were still chatting.


Angelina looked over at us. “Hey, girls.”


“Do you want to go look outside? Explore the neighborhood?” Kathy questioned.


“That would be a great experience.” Gramma agreed.


“Okay,” Ebony said. We strode out the door and I pulled out my cell phone and went to world maps. The neighborhood was a circle so we decided to walk along the block.


We walked a little ways and were admiring some cacti in a front lawn when we heard a voice.






“Hey! Hello? There.”


I spun around to see a boy about my age. He had a rubber hose in his hands and his t-shirt was wet. “Um, hello,” I said.


“We live down there. Where do you live?” Maya blurted out.


I cringed. Hopefully he wouldn't think Maya was weird.


He laughed. “Right here.” He put his hand out to the yard he was watering. “What are your names?” he asked.


“I'm Jen.” I said. “These are my sisters, Maya and and Ebony.”


“Nice to meet y'all.” he said. “I'm Landon. See ya around.” He walked back to his yard.


I felt my heart beat. Again. And again. Then a thought came into my mind and I blushed. Do I have a crush on Landon?


After the boy left we walked around the block. In silence. Which was totes weird! (“Totes” is a word I learned from our old babysitter who was always talking on her phone, and so she began speaking phone-talk forever- until Mama thought Jenny was old enough to babysit us) I looked at Ebony, who was fiddling with her hoodie drawstring and seemed like she was feeling awkward because Jenny wasn't talking. And Jenny was looking down at the ground and thinking. I watched her put her head up as if she was going to say something a few times, then she would blush profusely and put her head back down. Her honey-colored hair was in her usual tied-up braid-bun thingy that looks like a crown on her head. Her hairstyle is the coolest in our family. Ebony's hair is always in a extremely loose ponytail with the holder almost out, but not quite. It almost looks like her hair isn't in a ponytail, except when she turns to the back. My hair is a bit past my shoulders. It also has a tiny braid hanging down in the front. Also, Mama's hair is a very tight ponytail! Angie's hair is short and blond-ish brown-ish. It's always tucked behind her ears. Last but not least, Gramma's hair is bobbed and, well, white.


I grabbed the end of Ebony's hoodie and looked into her eyes. “Is Jenny acting weird?” I asked her as we neared the house.


“Nah,” Ebony smiled. “but she IS acting lovestruck.”


“What?” Jenny spun around. “Am not! I do NOT like Landon!” she spat.


“You just admitted it!” Ebony laughed.


I giggled. Jenny shot me a look. “You too?” she asked, lifting her hands horizontally in the air.




We were still laughing when we got to the house. When we opened the door, Angie was hugging Gramma and Mama.


“What's all this about?” Ebony asked Angie.


“This is my last day at the house, so I'm outta here!” Angie said. “But I live in Austin, so I can visit you guys any time!” She gave us hugs and took her bags from me.




“'Sup, Maya?”


“Visit me. Please?”


“You know I will.”


And just like that, she was out the door. Everyone was quiet for a moment, and it was kind of like a few minutes ago. Then Gramma broke the silence.


“Well, girls, how was the walk?” she asked us.


“Um...” Jenny blushed.


“Good! It's a pretty neighborhood.” I exclaimed.


Ebony joined in. “Yeah, the cactuses were cool.”


Mama corrected her. “Cac-ti.”


A bit more silence.


“How many days til school starts?” I asked Gramma and Mama, thinking that, well, it was summer break...


“Actually, I think school starts tomorrow,” Mama responded.


“Tomorrow!?” Jenny's eyes widened. “But- what? Why? Isn't it summer?”


Mama raised one eyebrow and grinned. “Since you girls are just now getting here, you have to take a summer school course.”


“But we still don't have school supplies!” Ebony gasped. “Or new clothes!”


“Then would you like to go shopping?” Gramma said. “There's a mall in town.”


“Okay.” I said. I love shopping for school supplies. It just warms me up or something.


We took Gramma's Toyota Prius and went downtown to the shopping mall, Kyle Crossing.


First we went into Home Depot to get school supplies. We each got the regulars, plus one item that we wanted. I got a cute doggie tape dispenser! Also, Jenny got a mouse-shaped mouse for her computer and Ebony got a pack of emoji erasers.


Next we went on a journey to find new clothes. We went to a shop called “So You” and chose one outfit each for us to get. I chose a pair of overall-shorts, a music note t-shirt and white socks and glittery purple sneakers. I also got a few hair ties.


Ebony chose a red-and-white striped jacket, a navy long sleeved shirt, leggings, navy striped socks, and red-and-white striped shoes. Jenny chose a white tee shirt with a cat on it with a tie in the middle, a pair of sparkly jean-shorts, white-and-blue socks, and turquoise flats. She also chose a turquoise headband.


I think Gramma was pleased with the purchases, because she smiled and said, “I think that you girls have made some great decisions.”, which made me happy too!


So we finished up our shopping trip and went to the house. Mom was sitting on the couch in the living room, knitting with Lulubelle on her lap.


“Hi Mama!” I said to her.


She looked up. “Oh, hello Maya, girls, Mother. Get anything good?”


I smiled. “Yep! Tons of cool stuff!”


“That's good.” She looked at Gramma. “Show me the check. I'll pay.”


“Oh, no, honey,” Gramma shaked her head. “It's all taken care of.”


“It's no problem,” Mama replied. “I have plenty of money. Too much, in fact.”


“And so do I.” Gramma gave Mama a look.


“Well, if you say so...” said Mama. “but if you need money...”


“...You can call me.” Gramma laughed. “I know.”


I looked back and forth to them. I didn't really understand what they were talking about. Will I do that when I grow up?


My train of thoughts crashed when Mama exclaimed, “Oh!”


“What?” Jenny said.


“Summer school!”


Gramma looked confused. “What is it, Kathrine?”


“Summer school! It's not really summer school.”


“What?” Jenny asked again.


“Mom, tell us already!” Ebony piped in.


“Okay,” Mama said slowly. “A call came in from your school district.”


“What is our school district?” I interrupted.


“The Hays County school district, Dear.” Gramma responded.


“Anyway,” Mama said. “the caller said that you actually don't need to go to summer school. But you should go to this camp. It's run by the school district.”


“Well, what kind of camp is it?” Jenny huffed. “A school camp? And how long does it go?”


Mama responded with a smile. “It's a camp for kids your ages. It'll be kind of school-related, like review and preparation, but it's mostly just a regular summer camp. And it ends the day before the fourth of July.”


“Wait, Mom,” Ebony said. “Aren't we all different ages? So why'd you say that it's for 'kids your ages'?”


“I mean it's for elementary through high-school ages.” Mama responded and walked calmly to the stairs. Meanwhile, Ebby was freaking out!


“Oh no oh no oh no!” Ebony said. “We did that shopping trip all for nothing!” she looked at Gramma. “Sorry we spent your money, Gramma.”


“Oh, no, Darling, it's just fine. We can still use the things you girls bought.” Gramma smiled at us peacefully.


Ebony looked a bit ruffled still but agreed. “Okay...”


I looked over at the clock. It was almost time for dinner. “What's for dinner?” I asked Mama.


“Oh! Dinner!” Mama exclaimed. “I forgot all about it!” she raced into the kitchen. “This is a marvelous kitchen, Mother.” she said to Gramma.


“Thank you,” Gramma said, then laughed. “That's a real compliment coming from a master chef like you.”


“I'm not a real master,” Mama said blushing profusely.


Jenny put her hands on her hips. “Says the woman who got second place on a Food Network contest!” she laughed out loud. “'Next up is Kathrine Carter, or you might know her as “CiCi”, a rising chef that has been blowing past the preliminary rounds. Give a hand for... Kaaaathhrinnnne Caarterrrrr!'”


Mama giggled. “It wasn't that big of a deal...”


Ebony jumped in. “...Except that for the next few months TONS of people came to your restaurant! And they all asked for YOU!”


Mama blushed profusely and looked away. Then she turned towards us. “So, what would you girls like for dinner?”


I quickly responded. “Mac and Cheese?”


Jenny looked at me. “You always say that. How about Croissants?”


“That's a breakfast food. I think we should choose omelets!” Ebony said.


“And mine is a breakfast food?” Jenny frowned.


“At least you can eat mine for dinner!”


“Mine's tastier! And you can eat it for lunch!”


“Mine's way yummier! And IT'S NOT LUNCHTIME! So mine wins!”


“Yummier means the same thing as tastier! So mine wins!”


“Mom,” Ebony finally asked. “Who wins?”


“None of you, because you were fighting. Gramma will choose. And I'll make up some Mac and Cheese for Maya because she wasn't fighting!” Mama went over to start the Mac and Cheese, then asked Gramma what she wanted.


“Hmm... I think we should have chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes and gravy with green beans.” she smiled, and I wondered if she was at all fazed by Jenny and Ebby fighting.


Ebony set the table about forty-five minutes later, then we all sat down to eat.


I spooned myself some Mac and Cheese (with peas and hot dog pieces) and after everyone had served themselves I started eating. “Yum.”


My first day in Texas had gone pretty well. I was beginning to like this place.


The mashed potatoes were hot so I spooned some for myself. As I poured the gravy I looked outside. It was getting dark as it was almost seven o'clock, but it still looked warm outside. You could faintly hear the loud buzzing of cicadas in the trees from inside.


I turned back to my food and served myself some chicken and warm dumplings and took a bite. De-licious. My mom really was a master chef.


“Yum.” I said out loud just as Maya was saying the same thing. She giggled, so I cracked up too.


“Jinx!” I said, quick to not let Maya say it first.


“Un-” she started to say before I stopped her.


“You can't say anything until I say your full name three times in a row!” I reminded her. Maya Caramia Carter. Once.”


She glared at me.


“Maya Caramia Carter. Twice.” I ran my hands through my hair.


Mom glared at me.


“Maya Caramia Carter. Three times. Now you can talk.” I finally said.


“Humph.” Maya pouted and turned from me to face the opposite direction.


“What did I do?” I muttered, annoyed. I was getting into all these fights lately. It really annoyed me. And I didn't even know why!


We finished eating a few moments later, then I cleared the table. As I was wiping down the countertop Maya came rushing to the living room with something box-shaped in her hands.


Jen walked over to see what she had. “What's that?” she asked.


“A board game! I think it's Gramma's.” she responded excitedly.


“Yes, that's right. I used to love playing it when I was around your age, Jennifer.” Gramma came over to where Jen and Maya were standing and put a hand on Maya's shoulder.


I put down my dishrag and joined them by the fireplace. The title of the box read RISK: THE GAME OF STAGETIC CONQUEST.


“Risk. Sounds... cool?” I joined in to the conversation.


Mom looked over at us from the kitchen. “Hey, what's all the commotion about over there?” she asked.


“It's this board game!” began Maya.


“Called Risk. And Gramma played it as a kid!” Jen added in.


I knew it was my turn to say something but I wasn't sure what. “Um... yeah.”


Mom looked at the clock. “I'm almost done with the brownies. But it's getting pretty late. It's already eight-fifteen, and Maya goes to bed at eight- thirty. Maybe we should play in the morning.”


“But Mom...” I whined. “can't we stay up a little tonight? It is our first day in Texas!”


“Hmm...” Mom responded. “let's see what Gramma has to say about this.”


Gramma looked over at us. “Well, I normally wouldn't say this, but because it is a special occasion... but you girls get right to bed after we finish the game, alright?”


“Yes, ma'am!” We all said in unison. Then we looked at each other. “Jinx!” we said together. “Jinx! Jinx! Double Jinx!” Then we all laughed. Maya set up the board game and we were about to start when I heard a Ding! and Mom came out with a plate of brownies. Jen got out plates and we all dug in, except for Gramma who said she wasn't in the mood. It sure is nice having a chef Mom, I thought to myself.


When we finished eating Jen cleared the dishes. Then we started playing RISK. I chose the black pieces, Mom chose the orange pieces, Jen chose the blue pieces, Maya chose the pink pieces and Gramma chose the purple pieces. RISK was a fun game and I enjoyed it. We didn't stop playing until nine-forty-five, which is past Jen's bedtime (nine-thirty), my bedtime (nine), and Maya's bedtime (eight-thirty)! Even Mom and Gramma said they would go to bed.


I tucked Maya in and got into my bed. Then Jen tucked me in, and Mom tucked her in. That's how it goes in this family. Maya doesn't tuck in anybody, I tuck her in, Jen tucks me in, and Jen gets tucked in by Mom. I always envied being tucked in by Mom.




I fell asleep quickly and didn't wake until around eight-thirty, which is pretty late for me. When I first woke up I looked out my window drowsily. Then I realized that I was, in fact, at Gramma's house. And it was my first day of camp! I pulled myself out of bed and unzipped my suitcase. Then after I got dressed, I walked down the stairs to the kitchen. Mom, Gramma, and my sisters were standing there with their new clothes on and each had a backpack, stuffed with school supplies, in one hand.


“Mom!” I exclaimed. “You should have woken me up!”


Mom gave me a “Heh. Sorry!” kind of look and pulled her messy hair up into a ponytail. I noticed she was wearing the ponytail holder Dad had given her the day before he left. “Sorry, sweetie. You just looked so content sleeping there and...” she replied.


“It's okay. I get it,” I sighed as I picked up my backpack. I looked inside and saw my backpack, too, had a bunch of school supplies, a water bottle, and a lunch box in it. I looked outside and saw Gramma's car waiting so I grabbed a protein bar and followed my sisters out the door to the car.


I closed the door behind my daughter as she walked out. “Okay, they're gone,” I said to my mother. “we can talk.”


Mother put her hand to her forehead. “When are you going to tell them, dear? They deserve to know. It is their father that we're talking about.”


“I know,” I sighed. “but they're just kids. It's too much to handle on their little minds.”


“Hmm,” Mother responded. “you can go to the prison and talk to him any time, you know, dear. It's only in San Marcos. Think on it.”


I was thinking, all right. Jennifer, Ebony-Claire, and Maya have no idea what's actually happening to their father. He was arrested for selling drugs years ago. But I still haven't told them. I think they might... over react, maybe? Or maybe just... I don't know.


I'm not sure if I should divorce him after the things he's done. We never see him any more, as he's in prison. We do get calls. But I never let the girls use the phone. I just tell them what he has to say to them. Usually, it's like “Look, honey, I'm really sorry for all this. I didn't mean to get caught up. Please forgive me.” I don't think I can forgive him.


I remember the time when I first found out. I was standing in the kitchen feeding Maya some baby food when I got the call.




“I got arrested. I'm sorry.”

I didn't know what to say. “Excuse me,” I said to Jen. “I need to take this call.”

“W-what for?”

“...drugs. Selling drugs.”

“This-this can't be happening.”

“I'm sorry, Kathrine.”

“I thought you were a legit man, Richard.”


“... I hope you know that I can't do anything for you.”

“... I know.”

“But I'll get a lawyer.”

“... Okay.”

“Look, what jail are you in?”

“Blue Cross Country Prison.”




“I'm sorry.”

“I know.”

I hung up the phone that day. The day my life changed forever.


My thoughts popped suddenly. I could tell Mother was talking in the background.


“... And whenever you do tell them, make sure they understand why Richard sold drugs.”


“Mother,” I responded, “I don't even know why he did that."


My hand went to my mouth as it dropped open. My father? Selling drugs? I couldn't believe what I had heard. I had forgotten my water bottle, so I walked up to the front door, but I heard a conversation. A very deep conversation. My father had been selling drugs? And now he's in JAIL? The same Richard who had taught me to snowboard? The same Richard who had been by my side all these years? Im. Pos. Si. Ble. But, from the sound of it, it seems it was true.


A tear dripped down my face to my mouth. I hadn't even realized I was crying. The salty taste filled my eyes with tears as I told myself, don't cry, don't cry, don't break down on the front steps! But it couldn't be stopped. Tears rushed down my face like a waterfall.


“Hey Jen, you coming?” I heard Ebony's voice coming from the car so I just left my water bottle there in the house.


I considered telling Ebony and Maya about Richard and all that but then I actually thought about it: I'm not sure if they'll react well. Maya won't understand, and Ebony'll just look at me weird and say “Dad would never do such a thing!”. Yup, bad idea. Better just let them find out themselves.


“Yes, I'm coming,” I called to Ebony and got into the passenger seat of the car.

“Why are you cwying?” Maya asked me. (She was trying to say “crying”, but it came out as “cwying”.)


“... I, well...” I kind of wondered if this would come up. “It's nothing.” I mumbled.


Gramma opened the car door and laughed. “Driving? On a beautiful day like this? Of course we're walking!”


I was kind of surprised, but didn't show it. But to my real surprise, another tear rolled down my cheek. I wiped it away in a hurry, making sure not to show my sisters.


As we were walking down the road, I pulled out my phone. I had gotten six messages. They were all from a group chat with my friends. They read:

:)Kaitlyn;): O.M.G!Tristan just sent me a heart emoji! #thrilled

XxMargiexX: DUDE! That's totes awesome! And so was the camp! Yoga=Everything

YvonneROCKS: And the GEOLOGY! Geo Group is life!!!!Charlatte10109: YES! #WishJenWasHere

The last text was from Kaitlyn. It showed a picture of all of us on the last day of school.

:)Kaitlyn;): {picture here}


I smiled and closed my phone. I wish we weren't in Texas. Then I wouldn't know about Richard and the... business. Jen, I told myself, get a hold of yourself! Let's tell Kathy after camp.


I sighed just to hear a voice. “Hey y'all! Can I walk with you?”


I turned quickly to see Landon coming after me! I had strayed so far from the group that he had seen me and rushed outside, it seems.


“L-Landon! Hi.” I said, blushing from behind my hoodie.


“Yo.” He turned to my phone case. “Hey! Is that a Macbeth phone cover?” He remarked.


“Oh!” I looked over at my phone case worriedly. Does he think that's weird? “Um, yeah. My Mom got it for me on Easter. But I don't like Shakespeare that much, honestly.”


His face looked crestfallen. “Oh. Well. Too bad!” He said.


Eek! “... Just kidding!” I said quickly. “To be or not to be, right?”


Landon laughed. “Er... sorry to burst your bubble, but that's Hamlet, not Macbeth.”


“Eep!” I realized that I had just said that out loud and quickly covered my mouth.


“It's cool.” He gave me an Award-Winning smile. “So, you going to Drama Camp this Summer?”


“Um... I don't really know. We just moved in and all.”


“Oh, okay.” Landon laughed. “Then I really have to introduce you to Mrs. Tracy.”


“Wait, who?” I said, shrugging.


“The Theatre Camp teacher and teacher at Academy Oaks, the High School. Well, enough about my interests, let's talk about yours! What do you like to do, Jen?”


“Oh, that's easy!” I said happily. “SNOWBOARDING!”


“Snowboarding? Wow! But in Texas... sorry to say, but there isn't much snow around here...” He responded.


“Kathy said that there was an area here. Yeah, I use the half pipe. And I usually ski on Cat Tracks. But I sometimes get off of my Fall Line. Also, my best trick is the Indy Grab, which is basically when I use my back hand to grab the middle of my board, while turning backsides.” I realized I was confusing him and backed off. “Oh, sorry. That must've been confusing.”


Landon smiled. “Nah, it's cool. I'm like that with drama, too. But anyways, Snowboarding sounds awesome.”


“It is. Truly.” We locked eyes. For a minute, I felt as if I could forget about Richard and all this.


Then I heard a voice. “Hey! Landon, lover boy!” an African-American boy with EXTREMELY curly hair stuffed in a hat called out.


“PHINEAS!” Landon blushed hard. “I—have to go, okay? See ya later.” I watched him rush off to his friend. He elbowed Phineas in the ribs, and Phineas yelped. I giggled.




My mind suddenly switched from Landon and his friends to Richard and what to do. Should I tell my sisters or not?


I looked around the lawn of the old building until I saw some kids who looked like me. In age, that is. In looks, no. In mind, probably not. Everyone thinks that I look so young and stuff but I actually understand. They all think I'm stupid 'cause I'm young. Or something like that.


I walked over to the second graders. “Um,” I said, “are y'all second-grade students?”


“Yeah,” a boy with red hair (and I mean RED hair) and glasses said. “I'm Tristan. Who're you?”


“M-Maya...” I stuttered. Then I caught myself. Must act SPUNKY! I thought. “Maya! That's my name. What's yours?” I asked, turning to the four other kids.


“Kacie!” a braided girl energetically broke out.


“Kade!” a boy who looked almost identical to Kacie also said happily.


“Twins!” they sang in unison. I was surprised, if that's the right word for it.


“Don't mind them,” a mature looking girl with cat's-eye glasses said with a smile. “I'm Roseanne. You-”


“Roseanne!” a voice interrupted. I looked over to see a pouting girl with a pixie hair cut. Her hair was black as night and had a pink streak jolting through it like a bolt of lightning. “Don't tell her who we are! She's just a little baby! And she CAN'T join our group!” The girl pushed me away and I toppled over.


“Nadia, you quit it!” Roseanne said, stomping her foot. She helped me up hurriedly. “Sorry about Nadia. She acts a little-” Roseanne put her hand to my ear and lowered her voice. “-jealous.”


“I HEARD THAT!” Nadia yelled. She grabbed Roseanne's arm and dragged her towards herself violently. “And STAY AWAY FROM MY BEST FRIEND!”


“Nadia, you stop.” Roseanne said, tugging away her arm.


Nadia glared at me. “ROSEANNE'S MY BEST FRIEND! MINE!”


“Doesn't seem like it,” I muttered under my breath.


Nadia's eyes got huge, fast. “Y-you...!”


“Guys. Guys! Quit it, okay?” Roseanne said angrily, tugging away from Nadia and running towards the school.


“Look what you did!” Nadia said, looking at me. Then she ran, chasing after Roseanne.


Tristan sighed and shrugged. “They always do that whenever someone new talks to us.”


“'Member when me n' Kacie came?” Kade laughed.


“Yup!” said Tristan. “Nadia thought Kacie and you were her rivals, again.”


They all laughed. I laughed, too, politely. Then Kacie looked right at me and grinned a big grin. “Don't worry. Nadia'll get around. It's just a reg'lar routine.”


“'Kay.” I looked over at Nadia and Roseanne and sure enough, they were both talking excitedly to each other. “Hmm.”




“C'mon, Kade, Kacie, let's go,” Tristan said, and the twins ran towards the building. Then Tristan looked back at me. “You comin', new kid?”


Do I really want to hang out with these kids? I asked myself. Hmm... yes.


“My name's Maya, 'member?” I said, walking up to him. “and yes.” We ran to the old brick high school, and I couldn't help thinking that I had maybe made a new friend.


After Gramma dropped us off, I looked around. I was so used to everything being so... perfect. Friends around me, always following me and chatting to me about whatever gossip was going on. '“Ebony, I still cannot believe that Becca's going with Brett! She could do so much better! I know she used to be a thing with Antony, maybe I could get them back together...”' '”Ebony, can you believe Heather likes Greg? She is ca-ray-zee, he will never like her! Plus, the rumor is he's dating Diane! Now that's a match made in heaven!”' '”Ebony, Brooklyn totes is crushin' on David, but I heard that he likes... wait for it... FIONA! Like, that will be so much DRAMA!”' I laughed, thinking about my old life. Well, everyone always says that I make friends easily! May as well try!


I walked up to a girl with long, dark hair to her waist and started talking to her. “ Hi, I'm Ebony. What's your name?”


She looked at me strangely, then responded. “Yumiko... why?”


Her friend laughed. “Looks like little baby fifth grader doesn't have any friends!”


I felt my face go hot. “Um...”


“Misaki, quit it. She's just a little kid,” Yumiko said to her friend. Then she turned back to me. “The fourth graders are over there, sweetie.”


“I'm not a fourth grader, I'm a sixth grader!” I yelled, then running away. I felt my eyes tear up and I heard them Misaki say “Really? She's really in the same grade as us?” Why did I do that, run away like a baby? I must be just as bad as they say, I thought. Then someone tapped me on the shoulder. I looked to see that two tall girls were right behind me.


“Hi, I'm Esperanza, but you can call me Espie. I saw you talking to those jerks, Yumiko and Misaki,” said a girl flipping a strand of hair falling out of her dark brown chocolaty hair in two buns.


“Yup, they're jerks. Don't hang out with that crowd.” warned a girl with dark skin and electric-blue dyed hair in what looked like a trillion little braids. “By the way, I'm Zendaya.”


I looked back and forth between the two tall girls. Between their adult tones of voice and their mature-looking features, I assumed they were seventh or eighth graders. “Um, I know this might sound weird, but... are you two eighth graders?”


They looked at each other, then laughed. “No... seventh,” Zendaya answered.


“Do we really look that old?” Espie added.


My face changed to alarm. “No! No, It's not that, you just look amateur.”


“'Amateur'?” Espie asked, obviously confused. I face-palmed.


“No! Mature, I mean.” I was feeling more embarrassed by the second. My face was heating up, and I started blinking rapidly to make sure I wouldn't just have a complete meltdown in front of them. “And, no offense, but why are you guys even talking to me? I mean, I'm a sixth grader! And you guys are seventh graders!”


“None taken,” Espie said, “to the 'no offense' part.”


Zendaya shrugged. “You looked like you needed a friend.”


“Or two,” Espie added. “and there we were! Plus, you seem like a clumsy-but-nice sort of person.”


“Thank you?”




“Oh, this again.” Zendaya sighed. “Well, let's get our butts over there, then.”


We walked to the front of the building, talking about this and that. The “seventh grade” line was right next to the “sixth grade” line, so we continued talking as we stood in the line of kids.


“So you moved to Texas, huh? Why?”


“My Mom's work. She's a chef. Maybe you've heard of her. Kathrine Carter, and she goes by CiCi, for Chef Carter.”


“Oh, the one who got second place in that one Food Network contest?”




A rotund man and a moderately tall woman came up in front of us all and started talking.


“I'm Ms. Genevieve, but you may call me Ms. Gigi.” said the woman.


“And I'm Mr. Josh! Ready to have some... pun? Get it? Fun, pun? Har, har, har,” he chortled, as everyone moaned. It seemed the man was a “dad jokes” kind of guy.


Dad's image flashed in my mind. He had dark brown eyes, black hair, a beard... wait, did he have a beard? I thought. No! I can't forget Dad! I can't forget him... Dad used to make the corniest jokes. He'd also laugh at his own jokes, and everyone else would groan and howl and moan. I thought back on this, then, and I realized how much I missed Dad. It was weird not having Dad home, and it always would be, as long as he didn't come back home.


I suddenly got my mind snapped to the present by my name getting called out. “... Ebony-Claire Carter.”


“Here!” I said instinctively. All eyes turned on me. “Um... present?”


Breaking the silence, an eighth grade kid said, “They're calling which group you're in, stupid.”


Calling the groups! Obviously. I thought. “Sorry.”


“Anyways,” Ms. Gigi said, “Imogene Blackwell and Caren Cooper will also be in Mr. Carter's class.”


So I'm in... Mr. Carter's class? Hmm, he has the same last name as me, I thought.


A man with a scruffy plaid shirt, a long dark beard with gray showing in it, and a NY GIANTS baseball cap pulled over his eyes came over. “Follow me inside, kids.” he said in a deep voice.


Out of the blue, a bell rang from inside. “Hmm, time's up already? Well, see y'all tomorrow, then,” Mr. Josh said, releasing us to go.


We all ran out into the schoolyard as it started raining dollops of rain. I climbed into Gramma's car as the rain poured down.


“Glad we're not in that hot mess,” Gramma remarked. “Here, wait here. I have to go check out Jennifer and Maya.”


“'Kay.” I responded, clicking my seatbelt in the passenger seat.


Gramma left, and a few minutes later, I got a text from Gramma, reading:


Millicent_Rose_Underwood (Gramma): Sorry, dear. I will come soon, as it seems we are having some issues with checking Maya out.


Classic Gramma. Always formal.


XxEbonyxX (me): Okay, Gramma. See you then.


I put away my phone as I heard a loud noise. A police car? I thought. It was a police car, indeed. And it was chasing a car, which was coming right towards Gramma's car! I braced for impact as I saw the driver franticly try to swerve right. Then, a loud noise. Finally, black.


“Somebody call 911!”

“What happened?”

“You, mister, are coming with me.”

“I'm sorry!”

“Is anyone hurt?”

“There's a girl in there!”

“Ebony! Oh my...”

“Hey mister? What happened to Ebby?”


“*Crying noises*”

“911, what is your emergency?”

“Get her to a hospital, quick!”

“Yes sir...”

Then black. For the second time in a few minutes.


You wouldn't know how surprised I was to walk out of the building, happy to be in the same group as Tristan and them, when Gramma came running and told me that Ebony had gotten into an accident.


It all went so fast. Everyone was yelling and in the chaos I could only ask “Hey Mister, what happened to Ebby?” No answer. Now my sister could die?


Ebony's eyes were closed when I saw the 911 people take her out on a stretcher. Her entire right arm was covered in bits of glass sticking out, and blood was drizzling down from each point. Her left shoulder's skin was ripped apart and her leg looked limp, falling off part of the stretcher. I turned away my eyes, unable to look at her. Gramma was on the phone with Mama. “Why, why, why did I leave her all alone in the car, why...” she was saying.


A police officer asked me, Gramma, and Jenny to come with them in the back of the ambulance. I had always wanted to ride in an ambulance, but not for a reason like this.


When we arrived, they said that they would take Ebony to an emergency room immediately, but only Gramma could come. Jenny and me had to stay in the lobby. Mama arrived a bit later, and I was surprised to see tear stains on her cheeks. But after all, I felt like I was going to cry as well.


About an hour after the car wreck had happened, a man with a scruffy plaid shirt, a long dark beard with gray showing in it, and a NY GIANTS baseball cap pulled over his eyes came through the hospital door. He went up to the front desk and asked “Where's Ebony Carter? Is she going to be all right?”


The woman at the desk answered curtly, “Sir, please wait here. She will be moved to a hospital room in about half an hour.”


This was confusing, not only because I had never seen this man before, but that he had asked for Ebony. I studied his face as he sat down, and something about him seemed familiar. I convinced myself that I had never seen him before and waited for them to call us, saying that Ebony was ready for visitors.


Reading a magazine didn't help me calm down, but it helped me pass the time as I waited for the verdict. Finally, a man in a light teal jacket with the name tag of “Dr. Steve Mulligan” came out of the double-doors. “I am happy to say,” he announced, “that Ebony-Claire Carter will be just fine after some healing, and she is now ready for visitors. She's in room 306.”


I ran through the double-doors, Jenny, Mama, and the man following, and sprinted till I reached 306. I pushed open the door and saw Ebony, unconscious, on the bed.


Everything was coming back to me, slowly. My mind was awake, and I didn't feel hurt. Am I dead? I automatically thought. Then I found out I could open my eyes. When I first opened my eyes, everything was blurry or disoriented. I saw a person standing over me. In fact, it kind of looked like... my Dad? That can't be true! I blinked a few times and realized that it was my group leader, Mr. Carter. He looked strangely like Dad with his cap off. They had the same loving eyes. “... Dad?” I muttered, slowly sitting up and feeling a jolt of pain.


Mr. Carter looked taken aback. Well, I did just call him my father, so I understand that. All of a sudden, all eyes were on him. Then his face softened. “How did you know...?”


Wait, what? I thought. “What... what do you mean?”


“Luke, I am your father.” Mr. Carter, or should I say DAD said laughing. “Yes, Ebony, I am your Dad.”


All of a sudden I felt deja vu, of the time when I was two and Dad was a huge Star Wars nerd. He'd make jokes like, “Why did Anakin Skywalker cross the road? To get to the Dark Side!” I would laugh, because I was a two year old and anything my Dad said was funny. Jen would snicker, then pout and say very cutely, “Whichawd, that 'snot funny!” AKA “Richard, that's not funny!”


I was pulled back to the present suddenly, and I realized that my father, the one who had missing so long that I don't even remember when he first disappeared, was standing right in front of me. I hugged him tight, even though it hurt. He was there, and that was all that mattered.


Once I was done, he stood up, and, as I was wondering what my family was going to do, Mom pulled Dad to her and they made out. I looked away, and my eyes wandered to see what everyone else was doing. Gramma had her hand by her mouth, but she was smiling, Jen had an embarrassed look on her face, and Maya was giggling.


Once they were done, Mom made Dad explain everything. Dad said that once he got out of jail (WHAAAT?!? Maya said, “I thought you were in Japan or China.” and Jen looked like she already knew), which was years ago, he had decided to turn his life around. He went back to Iowa State University and got a degree in Social Studies, which led him into subbing in children's classes. From there, he heard that a summer camp was going on in Kyle and had decided to try out for a job working there for part of the summer. He got the job, and, that was where we were now.


“But why didn't you call?” Maya asked him.


“I was worried you wouldn't want me anymore. I was too afraid, so I let you just think I was still in jail.”


“Dad, we would never hate you.” Jen said, hugging him. Maya joined in, and I did as well, ignoring the pain. I finally felt like maybe, just maybe, Kyle, Texas was where I belonged.

The author's comments:



I feel my board slide across the sleek snow as it was turning, turning upwards, flipping me upside down. I can do this! I think to myself. Just one time...! I land the turn, swooping down on the tail of the board and sweeping across the ice.


“GO, JEN!” I hear a voice yell. I look over to see Landon in the stands next to Ebony. Maya, next to them, held up a sign reading “YOU CAN DO IT, JENNY!”.


I flash them a smile as I see my score on the scoreboard. I was in the lead! And since I was the last boarder, this meant... I won! I let out a whoop as the people in the stands applaud. If I keep boarding as I grew older, maybe, just maybe someday fans would be cheering for me- in the Olympics!


I do a small bow, just for kicks, then go to the judge's stand for my trophy. It reads “Young Snowboarders of Texas Twenty-First Junior Olympics Winner”.


As I clutch it in my arm and face the crowd, I see my father, mother, and grandma sitting in a different part of the stands. It seems to be that Richard made a cringy joke while taking a picture of me. Kathrine giggles a little and puts her arm around him.


I look back towards Landon and the girls. I still can't believe that Maya will be nine this Saturday. She still looks so young! But you can notice it in the way she acts, speaks, and the fact that, I admit it, she has gotten taller. All this explains one thing- she's mature! I still miss little cutie Maya. She seems to be doing well in school, and she laughs a lot more now. And I just wish that Richard could be my Social Studies teacher!


Ebony is in eighth grade now. She had somehow made a gazillion of friends, but is still sad that her original friends, Zendaya and Espie, are now in high school and she's not. She won the annual spelling bee last year, and is on the debate team, the chess club, and the school play at her junior high.


As for me, well... I, being seventeen now, have really taken on my goals. I snowboard every chance I get, and I have a supportive family behind me... and a supportive boyfriend. He doesn't even care that I spend more time snowboarding than time with him! And ever since Richard came back, he's been helping me get better at 'boarding.


As for my personal life, I'm happy to say that I have lots of friends in Texas. Landon introduced me to one of his girl (space) friends, Luka, and we automatically clicked. She and a few of her friends are now my BFFs. Want to join us? I'm warning you, we have a lot of fun!


I walk into the changing room and change quickly. Then I open the door to the outside, and a bunch of people are there to meet me. Landon, Luka, Maya, Ebony, Gramma, Kathrine, Richard... I think, recognizing the faces. Then I see a little girl, about six or seven there looking at me. She tugs on my shirt and I look to see her. “Um, 'scuse me, but awe you Jen Cawtewr?”


“Yes,” I answer, smiling down at her tiny face. I notice the mini-sized snowboard she's holding. Aw... I think. Must be a teeny-weeny snowboarder.


“Will you sign my fwyer?” she asks me, holding out a paper that tells about the competition.


“Sure, honey,” I say, scribbling my signature across the back.


“Thanks,” the little girl says, beaming up at me, “I wanna be a snowboawdewr like you when I gwow up!”


“Well,” I say, “all you have to do is follow your dreams.”


I look into the sunset, which is slowly tie-dying the sky purple and magenta. It's beautiful, and we all just stand there taking it all in. I thought moving to Texas would be a horrible idea, I think. but now I know... sometimes, change is good.

Similar books


This book has 0 comments.