Maddie watched Kevin board within a fraction of the electrical pole. He stopped with ease, flipped up his board and pressed the crossing light. The invitation to walk flashed back at his touch.
Everything always seemed good to great in Kevin’s world. Everyone liked him. He was captain of every sports team he played on this year and last week got recruited to play center-forward on Vancouver’s under-14 Select soccer team.
She watched him run a hand through his blond curls and poke a 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 said with a smile then reached for her hand.
“Yup,” she replied dropping her board while simultaneously extracting her hand from his.
Pushing off she called back, “We should hurry. Jenna’s waiting.”
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!” Kevin hollered. “Look out!”
In that second Maddie saw the momma skunk and her two kits scurry under the parked car. Boarding downhill she had enough speed to miss the spray. Just behind her, Kevin got caught.
Holding up his hand, choking and coughing, he backed out of the spray zone. “I gotta go home,” he gagged. I’ll see you later.”
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 update Jenna AND get some advice.
“Where’s Kevin?” Jenna asked doing a two-step dance in front of her.
“I thought you two were an item now?”
“He got sprayed coming down the hill.”
“Bloody skunks! When did something so cute get to be such a bother? Where is he?”
“Well. Tell me everything. What’s going on with you two? You going to have a boyfriend by the time you turn 12?”
“O! M! G! 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 I don’t know. He wanted to hold my hand when I meet him this morning.
What if he holds my hand at school? What if Mika sees us? Do you think she still likes him?
What am I going to do Jenna?”
“What are you going to do! You’re going to have a boyfriend!” she laughed, leaving Maddie without any answers and a belly fully of migrating butterflies.
Maddie checked the work group lists Mr. James had posted. Relieved, she found Mika wasn’t on her team and although Kevin was, she suspected he was now sitting in a tub of tomato juice.
Assigned as team lead, she divided the decorating responsibilities amongst the group. Sixty minutes later the auditorium was transformed into a red and white graduation hall. Balloons with different weights floated throughout the space, red and white lights twinkled on the stage, and banners with stories and pictures of the graduating classes achievements, hung on the walls.
Jittery, she knew she should talk to Mika about her and Kevin, but the butterflies in her belly were messing with her brain. She kept an eye out for Kevin’s return and anything else she could do so she didn’t have to face her dilemma.
Seeing Mr. James setting up the awards table, she headed his way.
“Can I help?”
“Nope. Your work is done; besides this table holds a new and for now top-secret award,” he said stepping between her and the table.
“Time for you to join your classmates in the reception line,” he said shooing her away.
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 muttered 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 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 him, he was considerate and kind to everyone. She could count on him to listen to what she had to say, even if he didn’t always agree with her.
“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 had been home for three 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 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, our in-house fashion designer. For those in the audience who do not know her, let me introduce you to an exceptionally talented and creative designer who intends to save the environment in a fashionable way.”
Maddie knew she was blushing. Her mom said it was their blessed Irish ancestry curse. 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. It felt like her body was spinning even though she was still standing upright. She didn’t dare look at her mom who would not appreciate her being singled out for creative art rather than academics.
She was good at all the STEM stuff, in fact she hardly studied to get good grades. But science, technology, and math didn’t inspire her like creating stuff did. Time with her grandparents provided lots of opportunity to learn from GG. She started jazzing up her clothes with paints, sparkles, beads, lace, and stitches. At school, Mr. James helped develop her interest and talents by designing costumes for the annual school play.
With the ceremony concluded the grads gathered for group, family, and friend photos before stripping off sashes and gowns. Following goodbyes to teachers and parents they headed to the beach.
Maddie loved English Bay. The Bay welcomed and held one edge of the great Pacific Ocean. It was a busy place full of freighters waiting to unload their goods from around the world, sailboats, motorboats, luxury liners, and peddle-craft. Her favourite watercraft was the tugboat water taxis that shuttled people across the Bay to Granville Island, Science World, or downtown Vancouver.
Much as she loved hanging out at the beach, today she was sullen and Jenna teasing her about Kevin wasn’t helping. She was thinking about her mom’s reaction to today’s new Creative STEAM Award. For sure her mom would not like the integration of ART with STEM. Her dream of attending Emily Carr instead of VanTech in September seemed less likely now that ever before
Tired of pretending she was okay, at 5:30 she sent Kevin a text. “Going home. Everyone missed you. TTFN.”
Table of Contents
Chapter 6 - 13
Who Are You? | Jojo Kofi Afram | Lima, Peru |
Grandpa's Map | Surquillo 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
Change Resilience |
Cultural Awareness |
Global Citizenship |
Read Chapter 1 – 5 online
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