Leah's English teacher is new this year and has been having the kids take a lot of notes in class instead of writing. Leah had been waiting in agony for a chance to finally WRITE! Here is her first story in the 7th grade...she wrote it, revised it and typed it herself. I hadn't even read it until after she turned it in. I think the story is proof that her dream of becoming an author can really become reality! :) Of course, as her mother, I think she can do anything she sets out to do in life... - T
Beep! Beep! Beep! My alarm clock jerks me awake. A hand shoots out of my blanket cocoon and smacks the snooze button. I try to drift back into my dream of Chris, the amazing guy at school that my 17 year old brain is always on. What happened to his hand? His fingers were laced with mine, and he started to whisper in my ear…
Beep! Beep! Beep! I sigh and say goodbye to Chris as I roll out of bed. I stumble toward the bathroom and flip on the light. I almost scream at the sight of my face, which is puffy and zombie-like. My hair is arranged in an afro of blond. I groan and turn on the shower.
Twenty minutes later I go downstairs, my hair combed, makeup on, and body cleaned. My dad sits in his favorite brown armchair, a glass of milk in one hand and the newspaper in the other. I walk over and pop my head up over the newspaper.
“Hi Daddy,” I say, smiling. He looks up, his blue eyes and blond mustache aimed at me. I look just like him.
“Hello Skye,” he says, looking back at his newspaper. He takes a sip of milk. I sit on the arm of his chair, curious about what he is reading.
“What are you reading about?” I ask.
“Well, this millionaire named Joe Green is offering two million dollars to anyone who can get to the top of this island and come back alive. Apparently 57 people have died trying.”
“Wow,” I say, hiding the idea that had formed in my head. Two million dollars! I knew my family needed that money ever since Dad got laid off. Mom was working hard at her job as a teacher, but it was not enough. I had already accepted the fact that I would not be able to go to college, but here was an opportunity. If I did this, I would have a wonderful future. If I didn’t do this, I would have an okay future. If I died trying to do this, I would have no future.
“Where is the island?” I ask, trying to sound casual. I am afraid Dad will hear my quick breaths and thumping heart.
“Oh, it’s in the North Atlantic Ocean, somewhere between here and Greenland.” It will be cold there, I realize. Living in Miami, I don’t experience that. Suddenly, I glance at the clock, aware of school. It’s 7:51, nine minutes until first hour. I kiss dad on the cheek and run out the door as he calls, “Happy last day as a junior!” I rush to my friend Joy’s car, who is here to pick me up.
“Woo! Last day of school!” she cries as we zoom away. Yep, I think. I had some crazy plans. I cheer with her.
School goes by at an agonizing pace. I want to talk to Chris. I hear my biology teacher rant on about how amazing we are, how we should study over summer vacation, blah, blah, blah. I doodle on my paper. First my face appears, then I draw Chris. Hearts dance around our heads, and I do FLAME with our names for the 100th time. I write his name, my name and then FLAME. I cross out the letters in our names we have in common: “s.” That leaves seven letters in all. I count along the letters of FLAME seven times, starting over at “f” after I pass “e.” I sigh happily as I land on the letter “L”, circling it. “L” means “Lovebirds.”
My heart leaps as I remember my dream, our fingers touching and our eyes connecting. Ring! I hear the bell and jump out of my seat, crumpling the paper and shoving it in my pocket. I head for my locker, which is right beside Chris’. Then Jewel steps in front of me. I despise her. The bully, bully, bully.
“What’s that in your pocket?” she asks.
“Clear out,” I say firmly, curling my fingers around the precious paper.
“Fine. Your choice,” Jewel kicks my shin hard, and when I bend over to rub it, punches my jaw. I stumble toward my locker. Chris is not there. My heart sinks. That bully Jewel made me miss him! I punch the locker, bruising my knuckles. Suddenly, a hand on my shoulder. Chris. I smile, and just being near him makes me feel giddy.
“Hey Skye. I saw what Jewel did. You okay?” When he says that, the ache in my shin and the throb of my jaw becomes less intense.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I shrug. I grab my shoulder bag and close the locker door. He is there, right next to me. My heart starts to pound, and any conversation I want to start with him drains out of my mind. I stare at him, red hair, brown eyes, and beautiful dimples. He smiles back.
“Come on, I’ll walk you home,” he says. I grin behind his back and follow him out the school doors. Joy waves at me and calls out, but I point at Chris. That explains it all. She nods and wiggles her eyebrows.
“So, do you have any big plans this summer?” he asks, lifting his backpack onto one shoulder.
“Um, no, not really,” I reply. Should I tell him? I have to. His father owns a boat! Maybe if I just ask and he says yes, then we could go together and split the money. Yes, I will tell him.
“Actually, something big is going to happen,” I launch into my big idea, telling him every detail. His eyes grow wider and wider, taking in everything I tell him.
“Holy money,” he breathes, “two million dollars? Man…” he fingers his belt loop, something I have noticed he does when he is thinking hard.
“So,” I say, barely able to take the stress, “Can you help me? Can we use your dad’s boat? Can you come with me?”
Chris grins, both dimples lighting up his face, “I think you know the answer to that.”
“Really? Are you sure? I mean, I totally understand if you don’t want to go because, you know…”
“Skye, I know,” he says, cutting me off, “Meet me at the docks tomorrow at sunrise. I’ll have the boat. Bring all the blankets, jackets, clothing, food, water, and hygiene items you think you’ll need. We’ll aim to be gone for a month. Hopefully it takes less time than that, so we can come home. Are you ready for this?”
“Yes. I mean, are you? You could, well, die out there. You don’t have to come with me,” I say it with regret. I want him to come with me. I need Chris with me.
“Skye,” Chris begins, “we can do this. We can do it together. Tomorrow at sunrise?”
“Tomorrow at sunrise,” I confirm. I stand next to him, determination in my eyes. We are going to do this. Together.
“Well,” he nudges me.
“What?” I ask, slightly offended.
“Uh, your house is right here,” he says, pointing at it.
“Oh, uh, yeah, sorry. Thanks,” I walk toward my house feeling embarrassed, “Bye!” I call.
“See you tomorrow!” he calls back. I rush to my room and gather everything I think I will need. At about 9:30, I am ready. I go to bed, knowing I will need a good night’s rest for tomorrow.
I set my alarm, but I don’t need it. I wake up four minutes before it rings. I start toward the bathroom to shower, and stop. Will my parents hear the water running and wake up? No, I can’t risk it. But this might be the last time I can shower for a month. Aha! I go down to the basement and shower there. Safe. I glance at my watch. The sun is scheduled to rise in 12 minutes. I make two pieces of toast and grab a banana on my way out the door. I lug my immensely heavy load about three blocks to the docks.
When I get there, I scan my surroundings for Chris’ dad’s boat. Ironically, it is called Sunrise. I spot it and a figure standing next to it. Dragging my supplies, I jog toward Chris. He is there. We are going on an adventure together. He and I. Lovebirds.
“Hey,” I pant, hauling my stuff onto Sunrise.
“Let me get that,” Chris says, taking an armload of food out of my hands and arranging it carefully in the boat’s cabin.
Clearing my throat, I say, “Traveling in a general NE direction, it should take us three days to get there.” I pull out the newspaper and my GPS so he can see.
“Okay,” he says, “Get ready, set, go!” Chris starts the engine and we are gone. Just like that. I don’t know how to drive a boat, so Chris will be driving the whole time. We will stop at night to sleep in the ship’s cabin. There are two beds, but no sheets. Fortunately, we both brought sleeping bags. The hours are hot that first day because we are still in the warm part of our foray. Finally, at 10:00pm, we set up our beds and sleep.
At 7:00am, an alarm blares and we wake. The weather was calm that night and we are blown only slightly off course. Chris is so smart. He guides Sunrise back on track and we steadily make progress. Another night passes and the third day. I strain my eyes at the horizon, hoping for a glimpse of the island. Night falls too soon, though. We should be there by now! I am getting impatient.
“It’s okay. We’ll get there tomorrow,” Chris says. Will we? I sleep restlessly that night until about midnight, when I fall into a deep slumber.
CRASH!!! I am shocked awake as a wave hits the side of the cabin, breaking the window and drenching me in water. I cough and sputter as I try to open my eyes.
“Chris!” I scream. He is not here. I run out on deck and see him, alone, wet, cold. He is tying down our supplies that we left out. “Chris!” I call again. He turns and looks at me.
“Skye!” he shouts, “come help me!” I run to him and assist in securing our belongings. It takes a while because our hands are cold, the rope is slimy, and the deck is slippery. We finally manage to tie it all down.
Another wave rumbles toward us, and knocks me to the ground. My head hits wood, and I fall unconscious. Once again a wall of water hits me, this time jerking me awake. I start to look for Chris, but I can’t see him. Frantically, I search Sunrise, but he is nowhere to be found. I scan the waves, hoping it is not true. But it is. I see Chris being swept farther and farther away from our boat. He is struggling against the mighty ocean. His mouth is open, but I cannot hear his screams over the roar of the sea. I fall to the ground. Chris is dying, I think. My hands clutch the railing of Sunrise so hard my knuckles turn white. I start to hyperventilate and tears spill freely out of my sapphire eyes. Chris is dying. Chris is dying. Focus! I stand up, using the railing for support. Salt water stings my eyes as I blindly grope for the life saver. I take a deep breath and throw it as far as I can toward Chris. To my utmost relief, he grabs hold of it and I use all my energy to haul him onboard. Once he is on the boat again, he embraces me. I have never felt this before. The storm, my mission, the whole world could crumble and I would not notice because I am standing in Chris’ arms, and he is hugging me, and I am hugging him back.
I wake up in the cabin, Chris’ hand slightly touching my fingertips. The memory of last night comes flooding back into my mind. I remember it all. The storm, the water, our embrace. I am cold. I am wet. I am hungry. But I would do it all again for Chris. Does he know how much I care about him? Did his hug mean, “Thanks for saving my life” and nothing more? I push the thought out of my head and rummage through a cabinet for some pancake mix. I turn on the stove and grab a spatula. After I make breakfast, I wake Chris and we eat together. Neither of us talk, though, we are both thinking about last night.
At about 2:00 that afternoon, wrapped up in two blankets and a sweater, I see it. The island! I run to Chris and shout the news to him, even though he already knows. We decide to anchor the boat, set up camp on the beach, and rest until the next morning, when we will start our trek up the island. I notice something strange about the mountain-shaped island, though. The top of it is concealed in a monstrous light gray cloud, almost like a halo, so thick I cannot see the land through it.
That night we sit at the fire, talking and holding hands, like it is the most normal thing in the world. My cheeks are red the whole time. Later, when Chris is asleep, I slip out of our makeshift tent and look up at the sky. Why did my parents name me this, anyway? Sure, it was pretty, but why? The stars twinkle above, teasing me about this love I think I have. Starr would be a pretty name too, I think. So would River, Meadow, and Aspen. So why Skye? The sky was beautiful, but it meant nothing. Did it mean something to Chris? I go back into our tent and fall asleep, my face inches away from his.
I awake to Chris shaking my shoulder. He has prepared oatmeal for our breakfast. We eat and then pack necessities for our trip. We leave the rest of our supplies on the boat. We hike for eight hours at a steady pace, stopping only once to eat a small lunch. At around 6:00pm, I notice a cave not too far away from us.
“Want to camp there?” I ask, pointing to the cave. We start a fire outside the cave and then crawl in to set up our beds. I set mine up close to his so we can stay warmer, but also so I can be near him. To my surprise, Chris smiles at me and moves his sleeping bag even closer. I barely notice the bitter cold biting my nose and ears. I lay in bed with my fingers intertwined with his. After a while I think he is asleep, but I hear him whisper, “I like you, Skye.” My grin spreads and I feel hot. I feel safe when he is close to me.
Instead of shaking my shoulder to wake me up, he brushes my hair back with his fingertips.
“Hey,” he says, barely audible.
“Hey,” I respond. He helps me up and I stretch. Breakfast is oatmeal again, but I don’t care. I am in love with Chris. Even if we don’t succeed, even if we have to turn back, it will not matter. I have Chris. And he has me.
Fog. As soon as I step out of the cave, it surrounds me. We are very high up now, probably inside the cloud I saw at the top of the island when we came. Today our journey is no longer a hike. It is a rock climb. Chris ties a rope around my waist and then around his own.
“Who goes first?” I ask, eyeing the rocky cliff above us.
“You. Then I can catch you if you fall,” he winks at me. I grab the first rock and start to climb. My hands turn numb from the cold, and snow soon begins to fall. We are so close to the ledge. The climb has gone on for four hours now, and I need a rest. Three feet to go. Suddenly I hear an earsplitting screech. A huge, white bird circles above us. Its deadly claws are as big as my face. It dives toward me faster than any racecar. The bird buries its beak into my left hand and I cry out. I take my hand off the cliff and press in to my leg, trying to stop the bleeding. The bird swoops toward me again, and I know it will go for my right hand.
“Skye,” I hear Chris shout, “Let go! Trust me!” I trust Chris with my life, so with gritted teeth, I let go. The white bird slams its head into the rock, cracking its skull. It plummets toward the rocky ground below. I also plummet. The rope is sturdy, though, and Chris is strong. About 13 feet below him, I stop. I am hanging there, Chris holding me up.
“Skye, grab onto the rock! I can’t hold you forever.” I grab the rock with my right hand and plant my feet firmly into the cliff. I ignore the incredible amount of pain in my hand as I climb. Finally I reach the top. Chris helps me up and then pulls a blanket out of his backpack. He rips off a portion of it, and with quick, strong hands, he bandages my wound. We decide to stay on the ledge until tomorrow, so my hand can rest.
Chris builds a fire and heats up a can of chili for each of us. It tastes wonderful and is warm in my cold hands. Chris scoots close to me, so our legs are touching. He puts an arm around me to keep me warm, and I fall asleep like that, my head resting on his shoulder. That night I dream about Chris. It is like a still painting in my mind. All I can see is the profile of Chris and the profile of me. The dream only consists of us looking at each other. Somewhere in the night, though, I spot something fly behind us. It is a white bird, a dragon, perhaps. Its size is so great, I cannot even guess how big it is. After the dragon, my dream vanishes and I awake. I am in my sleeping bag. Chris must have put me there. He sits at the fire, writing about something.
“What is that, Chris?” I ask, curiosity getting the better of me.
“Oh, it’s just my journal, nothing important,” he finishes writing and puts it back in his pack. “What do you want for breakfast?” he asks.
“Um… French toast, orange juice, hash browns, and bacon,” I laugh.
“I want scrambled eggs, English muffins, and sausage,” he teases.
“Shall we eat in the dining room where tapestries hang on the walls and velvet carpet keeps our feet warm?” I say, going along with the joke.
“Oh yes, let’s. Of course, we must use our finest china dishes, silver utensils, and crystal goblets. Indeed the napkins are silk,” he smiles.
“We’d better get going,” I conclude, packing up our breakfast of oatmeal. More rock climbing today. I have some difficulty with my left hand, which slows us down a little, but by 4:00, we make it past the cliffs and onto ground again. We then hike until 8:00, when we stop and have dinner. The snow has finally stopped now. Another night passes with us lying close, our hands clasped together. The next morning I look up at the sky. It is cloudy. Is this the sky I was named after? Gray and hiding the sun? No, it can’t be.
We hike all day and finally reach the top. It is nothing. It is a plain old mountain. This is the mountain 57 people have died trying to climb? It can’t be true. Did we sail to the wrong island? Was Joe Green lying about the whole thing?
“Chris,” I sigh, dropping to the ground, “there’s nothing. It’s nothing. We did this all for nothing. I can’t believe this! Chris, what did we do wrong?”
It is a good three minutes before Chris says anything, “Get up, Skye.”
“Chris, stop. We failed. I want to sit down and so I will!” I snap. Chris just walks over to me, picks me up, and moves me away from where I was sitting. He peers at the ground like he sees a peculiar plant unknown to mankind.
“Chris, what are you doing?” I ask. Why is he wasting his time looking at the ground when we should be getting back to the boat?
“Skye, look,” he says and points to the ground. I lean in and look. I gasp. It is a drawing in the frozen gray dirt. It looks like a book. A diamond? Wait, now it looks like fire. What is it?
“Chris, what is that?” I ask. He shrugs and presses it with his palm. Suddenly, the Earth opens up and swallows us whole.
It is dark. Stone against my cheek. I think of Chris. I try to get up, but I can’t move. Something is holding me down. I see something. A gleam. It is an eye. No, two eyes. They are emerald green. They stare at me like I’m an alien. A hand opens my mouth. I try to close it, but I am not strong enough. Cool liquid down my throat. I fall asleep again.
I am on the ground. No, a table. A glove reaches for my throat. I struggle, but I am tied down. It closes around my neck and squeezes. I feel my face turn red, purple, and then I am released. I cough and gag, finally able to breathe again. Bright green lights turn on abruptly. I look around and see Chris on another table across the room. Black straps like belts hold us down. We have to get out of here. They will kill us if we stay. They are people, each with periwinkle hair and emerald eyes. One by one, they file out of the room until we are alone. I look at Chris. He is awake, looking at the ceiling. He mutters something under his breath that I cannot hear.
“Chris,” I whisper. He turns to me, “we have to get out of here. They are going to kill us.”
His brown eyes focus on mine. They seem to chant: I love you, I love you, I love you.
“See the button on the side of my table? There’s one on yours too, see if you can reach it,” he says. I reach, blindly trying to find the circular button. I find it.
“Should I press it?” I ask. I don’t wait for an answer as I apply pressure and the straps pop off my body. I am free.
“Push it,” I counsel him. He listens and soon stands with me, wrapping his arms around me. I breathe in the scent of his neck. It smells of salt, sweat, and snow. I love it.
“Let’s go,” I mumble against his shoulder. He releases me and laces his fingers with mine. We grab our packs that are sitting in the corner. I quickly pull out my waterproof camera and take pictures as evidence we were here. Then I turn toward the door and try the knob. It is locked.
“Wait,” says Chris, digging through his bag. He pulls out a baseball card. I know just what he’s going to do. He slips the card betwixt the doorframe and the door, right next to the doorknob. I hear a click and it opens. We rush down hallways, frantically searching for an exit. But then we run right into it. It is a bird, exactly like the one that attacked me, but way bigger. My dream, I think. Its feathers, body, legs, beak, and claws are pure white. Its eyes are white with emerald pupils. It wastes no time in lunging at Chris, who barely dodges it. I try to think it through. The bird might die if it hits its head hard enough.
“Chris!” I yell over the deafening cries of the bird, “Stand against the wall and dodge it when it comes for you. If it hits its head hard enough, it might die!” As soon as I say this, the bird lunges at me. I summersault out of the way and it smashes into the wall. Its eyes close and it stops moving. I cannot help it but to cheer. As I run toward Chris, I hear a shriek. The bird is not dead. Its eyes are trained on Chris. The eyes looked as if they were being controlled by something else. Maybe if I got rid of them, the bird will be useless. It dives at Chris, and sinks its beak deep into his leg. Chris sinks to the ground, he face turning white and his thigh turning red. Next, the bird turns its beady eyes toward me. He zooms at me, his pointed beak stained with blood, Chris’ blood. I run to the side, but its beak collides with my finger. It goes right through my finger and it smacks into the wall. It is down, but it will recover. I launch at its eyeball, clawing at it until I pull it out. I jump over its neck and pull out the other one. It is done. The bird slumps on the ground, defeated.
I rush to Chris and take his hand in mine. He reaches for me and puts his hand on the back of my neck. He pulls me toward him and our lips collide. At first I am shocked, but then I sigh. He holds me there, sharing a message I saw in his eyes. I love you, I love you, I love you. It is a quick kiss that only lasts about four seconds, but to me, it is the longest in the world. A voice in the back of my head says, your mother would never approve. Another answers, though and says, you’re going to have to have your first kiss eventually. Finally he lets me go and leans close to my ear and whispers, “I love you, Skye.” I think of saying it back to him, but my nerves do not allow it. Suddenly, I remember his wound. I touch it gently, hoping to heal it just by the touch of my hand. He only winces.
“Come on.” I grab his hand and help him up. I sling one of his arms over my shoulders so he can lean on me.
Movement. In the corner, where the bird is supposed to be dead. A light shines around it, growing brighter and brighter until I can no longer see the bird. When the light fades, the bird is brown instead of white. It looks like a normal bird now, but still huge. It opens its eyelids and stares at me. My mouth drops open. I ripped its eyes out. His new eyes are different, though. They are a topaz color. It stands up and walks toward me. It leans down, offering its back to me. I look at the bird and then at Chris. I can’t get him down the mountain by myself. Can I trust this bird that tried to kill us? I have no choice. I help boost Chris on and then hop on behind him. I put one arm around his waist and one arm clutches the bird’s feathers. A man with emerald eyes and periwinkle hair walks toward us. He takes a white remote out of his lab coat pocket and presses a button. The ceiling opens and I see the sky. The cloud has vanished and the sky is now bright blue. The golden sun shines down on me and warms my face. The sky is me. It is always changing and discovering new identities. It surprises everyone by shifting forms and appearing different. No matter how the sky looks, though, deep down, it is the same sky. It will always be beautiful.
Before the bird takes off, I take a picture of the man and the sky. We soar down the mountain and land smoothly on the beach. I help Chris down and then I jump down myself, taking a photo of the bird before it flies away. With me helping to support him, Chris limps toward the boat. Once we are onboard Sunrise, I take a picture of the island. Chris cannot stand to drive the boat, so I drag a crate over to the wheel so he can sit on it and tell me how to operate the ship.
There is nothing but calm weather all the way to Florida. I call Chris’ dad and tell him to come to the docks and then call my own parents to come. Three minutes later, our parents are here.
“Skye!” my dad shouts as he rushes toward me, “What were you doing? Where have you been? Were you alone with a boy?” he asks, being a typical dad. I smile and hug him.
Then my mom bolts from the car, embraces me, and then kisses me right on the forehead. “Oh, I was so worried! What were you thinking, running off like that and not even telling us where you went?”
“It’s a long story,” I say, grinning ear to ear, “but we just won two million dollars.” My parents stare at me like I am wearing a hat made of live mice.
My mother and father are both working now. They used the prize money to pay off the house and the car. The rest went into my college fund and savings. They are able to enjoy life and are much less stressed.
After Chris and I graduate from high school, we are both accepted to BYU Provo, where we continue seeing each other. Eventually, Chris proposes to me and offers me a gorgeous emerald ring. We are married and graduate with degrees, me in physical therapy, and Chris in computer engineering. We move into a good sized house where we have three boys and two girls. Our real adventure is just beginning.