Chapter 1: Best Summer Ever
“AH – AH – AH”, the seagulls called as they flew past her window. Maddie pawed around her bed for Jolie, a one-eared rabbit of little stuffing. Found, she flopped Jolie over her eyes, inhaled the sweet smell of lavender and thought about the day ahead.
In less than six hours, her best summer ever would begin. Old enough to come and go as she pleased – within reason her mother frequently reminded. She rolled over, pulled her journal out from under her pillow and flipped to the “Best Summer Ever” page.
Jenna and Mika helped her create the best summer MUST DO list ever. Well-illustrated and enhanced with photos and clippings, their list included biking, boarding, people-watching, hanging with the boys at the beach and eating copious amounts of fish and chips, samosas, ice cream and watermelon… AND TURNING 12!
She’d been waiting forever to be 12. Twelve meant she was old enough to go on assignment with her parents. Her time of being left behind was almost over. Before she started school they took her to stay with her grandparents in Peru. Once she started school, caregivers came and went – just like they did.
She kicked off the sheet, tucked Jolie and her journal back under the pillow, then pulled her curtains closed. Since the skyscraper went up beside them her ocean view had been replaced with a screen-like view of nine apartments and the people within. She wished she could erase from her mind some of what she’d seen.
Her graduation a.k.a. beach party outfit hung on the bedpost. It was late when she finished stitching extension ruffles onto the shorts. She peeled the band-aid off her index finger – still tender but no longer bleeding from pushing her needle through the denim.
She wiggled into the shorts and slipped the satin-lined lace shell over her head. Glancing in the mirror she gave a left then right hip twist to admire her latest creation. Satisfied, she winked at herself, grabbed her hairbrush and headed down the hall for breakfast.
Her dad was at the makeshift workspace he’d somehow squeezed into their already small and overcrowded living room, when their last field assignment ended. Maddie was glad they’d come home – well mostly glad. This was the first time since grade four they’d been home more than two straight weeks during a school year.
“Is that GG?” Maddie mouthed.
He shook his head and held up his index finger so she’d give him a moment… and usually more.
In the galley kitchen, she one-armed hugged her mom and grabbed a piece of toast off the stack. “Whose dad talking to?”
“Colleague in Peru,” her mom answered putting cheese spread and strawberry jam into her hands before turning her back towards the table. “I’ll get you some milk,” she said indicating with a flick of her hand that Maddie should get on with her breakfast.
“Maddily Modified I presume,” her dad said, joining them at the table.
“Yup! Used to be a tablecloth,” she beamed, lifting her knee so he could fully appreciate her fashion design talent.
“We bought it at the thrift store,” acknowledging her mom’s involvement with a sideways glance.
“Mom said the shorts were too short, so I added the ruffle from the leftover lace.”
He tousled her hair as he slid into his seat at the table. “Clever girl.”
“Russell! Don’t make it worse than it already is,” her mom said, using her hands to tame Maddie’s unruly curls.
Her mom gave her ‘the look of shock’. “Its not brushed!”
“Can you?” Maddie asked offering her mom the brush.
“Definitely not! You’re nearly 12! If its too much to manage, cut it.”
“You used to like brushing it,” said Maddie, shoving the brush in her back pocket.
“Sophie…,” her dad chimed in, “you forget how you used to wrestle with your locks. No one will ever doubt this beauty is your daughter.”
Her mom set the plate of toast on the table with a thud. “That was then – this conversation is about Maddie taking responsibility for her hair.”
Maddie’s stomach tightened and her back stiffened. She didn’t understand why her dad always said she and her mom were alike. Yeah, they both had red hair, green eyes, and lots of freckles but after that they were opposites. Maddie loved everything creative and artsy. Her mom was all about science and order.
“Big day Maddie,” her dad said spreading honey and peanut butter on his toast. “Shall we celebrate with a lunch at the Georgia?”
Maddie attended to the toast crumbs on and around her plate. “We’re going to the beach,” she said brushing them into her palm.
Squeezing past her mom to dust the crumbs into the garbage bin. “Kevin’s dad having pizza delivered to us.”
“Who’s we and us?” her mom asked.
“The whole class. Everyone’s bringing something.”
“I don’t know anything about you bringing something,” her mom caste them both a questioning look.
“Jenna and I made sugar cookies at her place. Thirty sun-glassed emojis,” she said wanting out of this conversation before her mom’s reaction dampened her excitement.
“Maddie, you should tell me more about what’s going on.”
“Well, we can celebrate later,” her dad interjected. “Today is about you and your classmates.”
“We’ll see you in the auditorium,” he said, pushing in the chair that hindered her exit.
“Not too many pictures dad. We can take some tonight. Agree?” she asked, planting a kiss on his cheek to seal the deal.
“She’s growing up fast.” Maddie heard him say as she slipped into the bathroom.
She spritzed her hair with the detangler she and her mom had perfected. Taking deep breaths of the lavender scent she spritzed the space around her hoping some deep breaths and the fragrance would calm the bellyflies she was trying to ignore.
Kevin was going to meet her across the street in less than 20 minutes. She was nervous. What happens after a boy kisses you? Was he still her friend or was he now her boyfriend? Was she even allowed to have a boyfriend? Did she even want one?
She doused another handful of curls with the detangler and encouraged the brush through her hair. I should have told Jenna … she always knows what to say to boys.
“Almost 8:30 Maddie.” Her mother’s voice stunned her bellyflies and opened the door to a full-blown sense of panic.
Three minutes! He’ll be outside in three minutes! Her long legs meant two steps to her room. She dropped her brush on the bed and grabbed her bag; thankful she’d already packed her bathing suit, towel, and sunscreen.
“See you there,” she called out, grabbing the door handle with one hand and her skateboard with the other. Their goodbyes were cut short by the slamming of the door.
For a moment she entertained taking the stairs then decided against it. She didn’t want to arrive out of breath or sweaty. What would he think of her then?
“Fudge Sticks!” She knew this kiss thing was a problem, it might even interfere with her best summer ever. over
Table of Contents
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 |
Global Citizenship |
Career Constellations |
Discover Learning |
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