Maddie and Wynn

Maddie watched Kevin board within a fraction of the electrical pole. With ease he stopped, flipped up his board and pressed for the crossing light. The walk light began to flash almost at his touch.

Everything always seemed good to great in Kevin’s world. He was everyone’s friend, captain of every sports team he played on this year, and last week, recruited to play center-forward on Vancouver’s Under-14 Select soccer team.

He ran a hand through his blond curls and poked the white t-shirt into his shorts.

He’s probably not even sweating, Maddie thought as she crossed the street to time her arrival with his.

“Maddily Modified?” he asked, reaching for her hand.

“Yup,” she replied dropping her board and simultaneously extracting her hand from his.

“We should hurry, Jenna’s waiting,” she said pushing off ahead of him.

She never used to think about sweating, now she was thinking about his and her sweat as she weaved down Burnaby Street praying for an intervention for this boy/friend thing. She really needed to talk to Jenna.

“Maddie, look out!” Kevin hollered.

In that second Maddie saw the momma skunk and her two kits make a beeline for the underbelly of a parked car. Boarding downhill she had enough speed to miss the spray. Just behind her, Kevin got caught.

Holding up his hand, choking, gagging, coughing, and backing away. “I gotta go home Maddie. Tell the guys. I’ll see you and them at the beach.”

The skunk’s spray drifted her way as she watched him push back up the hill. She felt sorry for him and marveled at the reprieve she’d been given to tell Jenna what was going on – and get some advice.

“Where’s Kevin? I thought you two were an item now?” Jenna asked in her sing-song voice.

“He got sprayed coming down the hill.”

“Bloody skunks! When did something so cute get to be such a pain? Where is he?”

“Heading home.”

“Well,” said Jenna dragging out the word while dancing in front of her, “what’s going on with you two? Are you going to have a boyfriend by 12?”

“Oh! M Gee! Maddie! Your face is redder than your hair! He kissed you didn’t he! I told you he liked you like that! Was I right or was I right?” she asked adding a leggy ballerina twirl to her know-it-all opinion.

“Did you kiss him back?”

“Yes, but . . .”

“But what?” Jenna asked, hands on her hips and legs spread wide enough to block the sidewalk.

“But now I don’t know what to do. He wanted to hold my hand. What if he holds my hand at school? What if Mika sees us? Maybe she still like him.”

Maddie rubbed her stomach hoping to settle down what was feeling like a full-blown belly-fly migration.

“What am I going to do Jenna?”

“What are you going to do! You’re going to have fun having a boyfriend!” she laughed, leaving Maddie without an answer but lots of questions.


Maddie checked the work group lists Mr. James posted. Relieved she found Mika was not on her team and although Kevin was, she suspected he was now in a tub of tomato juice.

Assigned as team lead, she divided the decorating responsibilities amongst them. Sixty minutes later the room was transformed into a red and white wonderland. Balloons bearing different weights floated throughout the auditorium, red and white lights twinkled on stage and banners with stories about this year’s achievements hung on the banner bars.

Feeling jittery, wanting and not wanting to check in with Mika to confirm her long crush on Kevin was in fact over, she kept an eye out for him, and anything else she might do so she didn’t have to face her dilemma.

Seeing Mr. James at the trophy table, she headed his way. “Can I help?”

“Nope. Your work is done; besides, I’ve got some surprises up here,” he said stepping in front of the table to shoo her away.

“Time for you to join your classmates in the reception line.”

Now or never, thought Maddie as she walked over to Mika.

“I hear your Kevin’s girlfriend now,” said Mika as she approached.

“Jenna!” Maddie stammered to herself. I should have sworn her to secrecy.

“I don’t care if he’s your boyfriend. My mom says its too early for me to have one anyways.”

Maddie knew her mouth was hanging open; she also knew she had nothing to say. She swung an arm around Mika and steered her towards the reception door where most of their classmates were gathering to greet parents and their teachers as they arrived.


Maddie watched her mom’s efforts to keep Jenna’s mom from sitting with them, while her dad welcomed her. She loved that about her dad, he was considerate and kind to everyone. She could count on him to listen and hear what she was saying, even if he didn’t always agree with what she said or wanted.

“Can I get all the grads into their robes and seats please,” Mr. James spoke from the podium.

Maddie gave her parents a wave then took her seat between Jenna and Mika. She watched the teachers manage the little kids sitting on the floor. It seemed so long ago they had been there – now they were the graduating class. So much had happened this year; Grandpa Leo had died, her mom and dad were home for three consecutive months, and now she had a boyfriend.

“Who you looking for?” Jenna taunted. “Your lover boy?”

“Don’t be gross Jenna. Why does everything about boys have to be so gushy? They’re just guys,” she said fussing to get her grad sash tucked under the collar.

One by one they went up to get their elementary school graduation certificates. Back in their chairs the buzz about awards reminded them all Kevin, the guy who would get all the sports awards, was still not there.

“Maddie Leon, please join us up front,” she heard Mr. James say.

“Everyone in this school knows our creative star, Maddie Leon. For those in the audience who do not, let me introduce you to a young and exceptionally talented designer who intends to save the environment in a fashionable way.”

Maddie knew she was blushing. Her mom said it was the blessed curse of Irish ancestry. She stood beside Mr. James and glanced at her parents. Her dad’s smile spread across his whole face. Her mom looked like she was sitting on something uncomfortable.

Mr. James kept talking, but his words didn’t register. She was busy feeling her belly-flies die off one by one, replaced by a lump in her throat. Every time Maddie excelled in the arts her mom came down on her, demanding she focus on academics.

She was good at math and science, in fact she hardly had to focus to get good grades but STEM stuff wasn’t her passion – designing costumes and fun clothes from recycled or upcycled material was her idea of a good time. She tried to have her mom understand eco-fashion was STEM plus ART, but her mom always dismissed her arguments.

With the ceremony concluded the grads gathered for group, family, and friend photos before stripping off their sashes and gowns, saying goodbye to teachers and parents, and headed to the beach.

Maddie loved English Bay. A waterway full of sailboats, peddle-craft and little blue water taxis that shuttled people from north to south beaches, over to Granville Island or downtown Vancouver. The bay and beach wrapped around Stanley Park to the west and into the core of the city and past her home to the east.

Much as she enjoyed the beach, today she was sullen and Jenna’s teasing about Kevin this and Kevin that wasn’t helping her mood. She was worried about her mom’s reaction to today’s award and Mr. James praise. She tried to squash her worry that her mom would now say no to attending Emily Carr’s art extension program in September and make her go to VanTech instead.

Tired of pretending to be okay, at 5:30 she sent Kevin a text. “I’m heading home. It was fun but everyone missed you. TTFN”

Table of Contents

Chapters 1 – 5

Best Summer Ever | Graduation Day | My Life Sucks |
Maddie's Moving | Letting Go | 

Chapter 6 - 13

Who Are You? | Jojo Kofi Afram |  Lima, Peru  |
Grandpa's Map | Surquilla Market |
Wynn the Peruvian Dog | HBIPS |  Taco Night |

Chapter 14 - 19

TGIF | La Niña | Stranded | The Carmelites | 
Market Day | Maddily Modified Reconfigured |

Chapter 20 - 24

Meme and Victor | Yes! Things Can Get Worse |
On Assignment | Lost Again | Ties That Bind | 

Links / resources

Global Citizenship | Cultural Awareness |
Career Constellations | Adventure Learning | 

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