Maddie and Wynn

Chapter 4: Maddie's Moving

“Sucks! Sucks! Sucks!” she huffed into her pillow.

“Stupidest job ever?”, she moaned slapping her feet on her bed.

“Anthropologists,” she said like you do a cuss word. 

She pulled her journal out from under the pillow and cradled it like she used to hug her stuffies before she packed them up to show her mom just how mature she was. The journal was her confidential buddy – full of private thoughts, ideas and plans. 

She flipped to the BEST SUMMER EVER page. The list had been so much fun to compile. Her first real freedom year – no parent or minder taking you places. It was supposed to be great. 

Beside the list of fun things to do she sketched some outfits and bikini designs. Jenna said they should pool their money and buy a top and bottom to share. She’d agreed, even though she knew it wouldn’t be possible; Jenna was already showing, Mika was four inches shorter than Jenna, and two inches shorter than her. Besides, her mom would never let her share a bathing suit.

NOT, she scrawled in thick black felt then spit on the page then watched the black ink bleed on the porous paper. She slapped it shut and pulled out her phone. 


JENNA! r u there? I need to talk to you! 


Mika, u there?


Maddie sat in the middle of her bed feeling like she often did – alone. Why is nobody around when I need them. She stretched out to reach her reed ball off the dresser. With a flick of her toes, the ball was in her hands.


I will not cry. I will not cry, she recited as she tossed the ball up and down having perfected its velocity in relation to distance, so it hardly ever hit the ceiling anymore. 

Feeling calmer, she set the ball on her belly and watched it move and down with her long slow deep breaths. Breath work helped, but she really needed to talk to Jenna. Jenna was good at figuring out life stuff – that was her number one smartness. Her mom said Jenna was too grown up for 12 but Maddie loved her just the way she was. 

I can’t believe their taking me away from Jenna, Mika, school, and Kevin. She propped her journal on her bent legs and drew a sad face with tears that fell to the bottom of the page. 

Across the page in big capital letters she wrote –  



She put the reed ball back in motion. It was one of her go-to self-calming activities. Grandpa Leo brought it from Thailand. He told her the grandmothers weave wetland reeds into balls so the kids had something to play with or throw at water buffalo that get to close.

She didn’t have to worry about water buffalo but she worried about most everything else.  She worried something would happen to her parents when they went on assignment. Her mom told her she was silly to think like that but her great grandfather died on assignment … it could happen to them too. 

She worried Grandpa Leo would die before she got to see him one last time. She worried so much she threw up on her mom’s shoes on their flight to Peru. 

She tossed the ball and tried to concentrate on her breathing but all she could think about was being the different one, an odd ball in Peru. She never bothered to learn much Spanish because everyone in her family spoke English and French. She knew enough Spanish to be polite and that was that!

She was thinking what a bad idea it was to move to Peru when her phone pinged. She dropped the ball and grabbed the phone.


What’s up? Jenna’s text read.

I’m moving!


What! Where?



OMG! Why? 

They got a new assignment.

Can’t you stay here?

My dad wants to go back to Peru.

What about Kevin?

Kevin! What about ME? she replied feeling like a meatball was lodged in her throat. 

Mom’s bellering. Gotta go. TTFN.

Maddie stared at the unicorn emoji Jenna sent. There was nothing magical or mystical about being plucked out of Vancouver and taken to Peru.

Depressed at the thought of moving, she rolled herself into her sheet and started listing everything that was wrong about moving. no one to hang out with. no one to eat lunch with. no one to skateboard with. how would she get her stuff to Peru?

A knock interrupted her worries. 

“Can I come in?” her dad asked.

“I’m sleeping.”

“Then who’s speaking to me?” he asked entering her room and nudging what looked like an extra-large burrito, to give him some room to sit on the bed. 

“Why do we have to move?” she asked from inside her cocoon.

“Lots of reasons honey. For the work… and GG needs us now… and I want you to experience Peru. I want you to know the culture.”

“I already know it. We’ve been there lots of times.”

“Living someplace is different than visiting. I thought you’d be super excited about living in a house – no more waiting for elevators while our ice cream cake melts and what about having half of GG’s studio for ‘Maddily Modified’ projects?”

“Why did you pick such a stupid job,” she asked peeling back the top of her cocoon.

“Cultural anthropology is actually a pretty cool job. 

You get to travel around the world, discover how different people live, try new foods, and even make good friends. You find out there are a lot of different ways to live life.”

Maddie pulled herself out of the cocoon sheet just enough to sit up. She wrapped her arms around her legs then looked at her dad. “But you always leave me.”

“That’s why your mom and I decided it was time to move to Peru. Soon you’ll be 12; old enough to site visit. If you stay here, we’d be too far apart for you to come on long weekends or school breaks. In the interim, you and GG can come meet us in Cusco. We’ll go horseback riding or take the train to Machu Picchu; you’ve been wanting to go there.” 

Maddie swung her legs to the floor so she could sit beside him. “Can we go in the hills and look for some jade? Grandpa wanted to find a nice big piece to give to GG.”

He put his arm around her shoulder. “For sure. We’ll do that.

You really going to bed this early?” he asked.

“Yeah. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I’ve got my own things to figure out.”

“Are you going to lay in bed and worry?” 


People in Peru think I’m weird.”


“When we were at Grandpa’s funeral, some boy said I looked like a lizard, the kind you keep in the zoo!”

“Who said that to you?”

“I don’t know who he was. I never saw him before that day.”  

He cupped her face in his hands. “You my girl, are a beautiful and unique cultural blend; Peruvian, Irish and French-Canadian.  I bet that boy thought the same, he just didn’t know how to say it nicely.” 

“You sure you don’t want any ice cream cake?”

“Mom said no dinner, no dessert.”

“Well you know mom,” he said raising one eyebrow and giving her his quirky smile. “She has lots of rules. She wants the best for you.”

“She doesn’t care what I want to do. She won’t even let me explain that fashion design is STEM plus ART.

“Your mom knows a lot about what it takes to be an artist. She doesn’t like to talk about it but before she got absorbed in anthropology and meet the best man ever,” he said, giving her one of his silly grins, “she and a couple of her friends wanted to design and sell clothes . . .it didn’t work out as she dreamed and she doesn’t want you to experience the same.” 

“But upcycled fashion is different – you don’t have to buy new stuff.”

“Give her time Maddie. She wants what’s best for you.”

“What about what I want,” Maddie replied.

“That my dear unfolds, just like life does. 

Now what about some ice cream cake?” he asked messing up her always messed-up hair. 

“Are you going to talk about moving?” 

“We can park that conversation for tonight.”

“Okay then – first one to the table gets the biggest piece,” said Maddie as she sprung from her bed to put herself ahead of him.


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 | 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 | 

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