Lilly of the South

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
March/April 2011

Benet Dawn Stoen
Lilly of the South talking in the snow

It’s just, my family has been moving all over for as long as I can remember

CHAPTER ONE: THE SOUTH POLE

The plane seemed to be going ridiculously slow. I had a seat by the window and was looking out at the South Pole, also my new home. Both of my parents were considered brilliant scientists. I didn’t disagree. We were moving to the bottom of the world so they could study the earth’s changing climates. At fourteen, I shouldn’t complain, and believe me, I really tried not to. It’s just, my family has been moving all over for as long as I can remember. Before the South Pole, we lived in Australia. (They were studying heat and sun rays.) I loved Australia. What I would miss the most would be my friends Ophelia Jones and Percy Smith. They were both only children like me. Ophelia’s mom is a nurse, and her dad was a pilot, but he got kicked out for something, but Ophelia never told me what. Percy’s mom died when he was just a few hours old. His dad is really cool though. He’s a math whiz and a great photographer. I would miss them, a lot.

The plane stuttered to a stop, made a strange blasting noise, but didn’t shatter into a million pieces like I had expected. The flight attendant ushered us out to the walkway and we entered the small (very small) airport. We looked around for a person holding a sign that read “Anderson.”

My mom spotted it first. We approached the young woman holding the sign. She had on a black coat that went to her knees. Her blond hair was pulled back in a braid. And her face and eyes were kind and gentle.

“Are you the Andersons?” she asked.

“Yes,” my dad answered. “I’m Patrick; this is my wife, Karen, and my daughter, Lilly.”

The woman smiled and said, “A pleasure to meet you. My name is Jasmine Lewis, my son Jeremy is around here somewhere.” My parents shook hands with her, and she led us to the door. A boy around my age with perfect brown hair and ocean-blue eyes caught up with us. “Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, this is my son, Jeremy,” Jasmine said.

“Nice to meet you.” He shook hands with my parents and then with me. “Let me carry that for you.” He took my suitcase, and we walked through the ice and snow to find Mrs. Lewis’s snowmobiles. Once we found them, she threw Jeremy a pair of keys. Mrs. Lewis’s mobile had three seats, but Jeremy’s had only two seats.

“Lilly, you can ride with Jeremy,” my mom instructed. Jeremy handed me a helmet, he put the keys in the ignition, and we took off through the snow. Mrs. Lewis was a few feet behind us with my mom nervously clutching her waist. I wasn’t scared, I was actually having fun.

“You all right back there?” Jeremy called back to me.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I called back over the roaring of the snowmobiles. “We’re about to turn, hold on to me.” I didn’t hesitate to cling to his back as we turned a sharp corner, nearly missing a general store.

“Show off!” Mrs. Lewis called to Jeremy. He laughed, and I did too. We soon came to a charming little cottage and parked the snowmobiles.

“This one’s yours, ours is that one.” Jeremy pointed to a smaller cottage a little ways behind ours. We got off the bikes, and Jeremy grabbed my suitcase for me. Both of our jean legs were soaked, and I was freezing. “You OK?” Jeremy asked.

“J-just c-cold,” I muttered. Jeremy left and returned with a green wool blanket, and he put it around my shoulders.

“Thanks.”

“No problem, my sister made it for a welcoming present for you.”

“Lilly.” My mom appeared. “We’re going to go tour around town; do you and Jeremy want to stay here?”

“Sure.” Jeremy read my mind.

“OK, see you later then.” She left.

“Would you like a tour?” Jeremy asked.

“Sure.”

And he showed me around. There were three bedrooms, one bathroom, a small kitchen, and a living room. In the kitchen were four chairs that surrounded a small table. There was a woodstove, an icebox, a counter, and four cupboards. He pulled out a small pan and set it on the stove. He took milk, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar. I sat down at the table and watched him make hot chocolate.

“How long have you lived here?” I asked as he poured the milk in over the cocoa.

“I think since I was three. We lived in Russia before here.”

“Why did you live in Russia?”

“I’m not really sure.” He raised an eyebrow. He took a ladle out of a drawer and poured the cocoa in mugs.

I wrapped the blanket more tightly around me. He set a mug in front of me. I took a drink, and I could feel my legs warming up. It was delicious. “Where did you learn to cook?” I asked.

He looked down at the floor. “My sister taught me.”

“Was it the same sister who made this blanket?”

“Yes.”

“I would like to meet her.”

He slammed his cup on the table, stood up, and walked toward the door. His action made me jump. “Where are you going?” I followed him.

“I’ve got to go home,” he muttered as he pulled his coat on.

“Why?” I asked.

He walked over to me. “I just really think I should go.” His teeth were gritted together. I looked into his angry eyes.

“OK, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

He stormed out of the house, slamming the door behind him. I walked back to the kitchen, put a lid on the leftover hot chocolate, and dumped Jeremy’s in the sink.

My parents came home later that night. My mom was carrying grocery bags and my dad was carrying a library bag full of books. I was on the small sofa reading my copy of A Wrinkle in Time. My mom put the groceries on the counter, and I went up to unpack. I was hardly paying attention to what I was doing. I was more concerned with the fact that Jeremy was mad at me. Why? What did I do? I wondered. I tried to remember what exactly had gone on in the kitchen: Jeremy made hot chocolate, then we were talking about where he used to live, and then about his sister. I didn’t see any harm done…

“Ouch!” I slammed my hand in the dresser while I was putting a pair of socks away. I looked at my throbbing hand and sighed sadly. Once I finally finished unpacking (paying closer attention this time), I went downstairs to help my mom with dinner. As soon as I got downstairs, I heard my mom’s cell phone ringing.

“Lilly, could you get that for me? I can’t now, I’m making dinner.”

I found my mom’s phone in her purse and answered it. “Hello?”

“Hello? Who is this?” A woman’s voice came from the other end.

“Um, this is Lilly. Who is this?” I asked.

“Oh! Hello, Lilly. It’s Mrs. Lewis.”

“Oh hi, Mrs. Lewis, how are you?” I wanted to ask how Jeremy was, but I decided to make better conversation first.

“I’m fine. Jeremy wanted to talk to you.”

My stomach did a somersault.

“He did?” I tried not to sound anxious.

“Yeah, here he is.” Before I could say anything, Jeremy’s voice came into my ear.

“Hi,” he started.

“Hi,” I echoed.

“Um, I just wanted to say sorry,” he mumbled.

“I forgive you. Besides, there isn’t a law that says you can’t be mad at others,” I told him.

“Well, the thing is, I wasn’t mad at you.

Lilly of the South holding a cellphone

I sat there, holding my mom’s pink cell phone, wondering what emergency the Lewises were in

*          *          *

CHAPTER TWO: LOST

“You weren’t?” I was surprised.

“No, I was just mad because…”

“What? You can tell me.”

“I was mad because…” His voice was cracked and choked up, like he was about to cry.

“Jeremy? Are you all right?”

“I was mad at my sister.” He must have been crying now.

“Why?” I didn’t know why I was asking, it was just hurting him more.

“Because… I’ve got to go, I’ll see you tomorrow.” He hung up.

“Bye,” I murmured to the abandoned phone line.

After dinner, I went straight to the couch and called Mrs. Lewis. It rang twice before Mrs. Lewis answered.

“Hello?” Her voice was fast and anxious, like she had been expecting an important call. “Mrs. Lewis? It’s Lilly.”

“Oh hi, Lilly, listen, I’m not trying to be rude, but I can’t talk right now, I’m in a little emergency.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Lilly, sweetheart, I can’t talk now, I promise I’ll tell you another time.” And then she hung up. I sat there, holding my mom’s pink cell phone, wondering what emergency the Lewises were in.

*          *          *

The next morning, I had my mom’s phone in my pocket all day. My parents had gone to the lab, so it was just me home.

I ate briefly, then just sat on the couch, waiting for the phone to ring.

After about six pm, I decided to call my parents to see if I should eat dinner without them. As soon as I took the phone out of my pocket, it rang.

“Hello?” I answered.

“Lilly? Hi, it’s me.” Mrs. Lewis sounded tired.

“What’s up?” I tried to sound casual.

“Well, last night I told you I was in an emergency? Well, Jeremy ran away from home.”

“WHAT? He ran away?!” I screeched.

“Yup, the police and I have been looking for him all night.”

“When did you first realize he was gone?” I asked.

“I think around six-thirty last night.”

My stomach did a flip. Six-thirty was around when he called!

“Mrs. Lewis, do you remember when Jeremy called me at about six-thirty last night?!”

“Lilly, you’re right! What did he say?”

I told her what Jeremy said, and that he was crying. And when she spoke again, she was crying, too.

“Um, will you just tell me if you see him?” she asked.

“Yes ma’am.”

I closed the cell and tried not to imagine Jeremy freezing to death.

*          *          *

CHAPTER THREE: JEREMY’S HIDING PLACE

It had been several days since Jeremy’s mysterious disappearance. Try to remember something in the past that worried you so much you thought you were going to pass out. Then, multiply it by ten and you will know how I felt for Jeremy. I had gone looking for him several times but no luck.

Today was Saturday; I decided to go look for him again. I hopped on my snowmobile and headed out. I went up to his house and looked in the four directions he could have gone. I decided to go right. So I put the keys back into the ignition and zoomed away. I had tried to estimate how far he could have gone in forty- eight hours. I guessed he wasn’t going nonstop, so I narrowed down the miles I had estimated to about five-and-a-half miles.

I headed five miles south, but there was no sign of him. I decided to go left and straight from his house, but there was no sign of him there either. I was about ready to go home, so I thought I would try again tomorrow.

That night, as I lay asleep in my bed, I heard a noise. Like someone was throwing rocks at my window. They woke me with a jerk, and I walked over to my window and looked out. Jeremy, dressed in warm clothes, was throwing twigs at my window. I threw on my jeans and a sweater and ran outside with no coat. “Jeremy!” I screeched. And we hugged.

“I want to show you something,” he said.

“What?”

“Get in some warm clothes and meet me out here.”

I went inside, put on my warmest coat, wool mittens, and a hat.

Outside, Jeremy was leaning against my snowmobile.

I sat on my parents’ snowmobile, put my elbows on my knees, and said, “You were gone, for two weeks.”

“I know, I’m sorry.”

“What do you mean sorry?” I asked.

“Lilly, I just needed to get out for a while. I was angry, and I wanted to be alone.”

“Where were you?”

“I found this weird cave up north, that’s what I wanted to show you.”

“A cave?” I couldn’t keep the hesitation out of my voice.

“Yeah, I promise we’ll only be gone an hour.”

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

We got on my snowmobile and rode away, into the night.

After a while, it started getting really cold, and I was shivering like crazy. But, after a little while, we arrived at his little cave. It was charming: there was a sleeping bag in one corner and a box of food in the other. I sat down, now feeling not as cold anymore, but warm. Jeremy held a piece of food out to me, I tried to grab it, but my coordination was off, so I grabbed thin air. “Lilly, stop messing around, take it,” Jeremy told me.

Before he shoved the food in my hand, I felt really tired, so tired I wasn’t staying awake. I dozed, and my eyes slowly began to shut…

“Hypothermia!” Jeremy’s voice was a screech.

Lilly of the South hot chocolate

He tried waking me up, but I was just too tired.

He did the only thing he could do: drag me out to the snowmobile and get me to a doctor.

Jeremy somehow managed to keep me barely awake on the ride. He talked to me, though I could hardly pay attention. “You have to live, Lilly, I can’t lose another person to hypothermia.” Jeremy had taken off his coat and wrapped me in it. I dozed again, and Jeremy woke me up again and again.

We skidded to a stop in front of the small hospital. Jeremy took me inside on his shoulder, and the nurse opened the door. “What happened?” The nurse got a rolling bed, and Jeremy placed me on it. He spoke as they ran to the ER. “I think she has the early stages of hypothermia.” The nurse listened and pushed the bed. The doctor treated me. But I was half asleep through most of it, so I didn’t really know what was happening, or that I was freezing to death.

*          *          *

A few hours later, I woke up healthy and warm. Jeremy, Mrs. Lewis, and my parents were all asleep in chairs lined up against the wall. I looked around silently at the room. It was small, blue, and had one window. My dad snored, and I giggled.

My parents awoke, and my mom rushed over to hug me. Jeremy and his mom woke up, and the room was filled with talking and laughing.

Jeremy told me about his sister, and what happened to her: she died from hypothermia.

After more talking, I thought to myself, I guess I have a new favorite home.

Lilly of the South Benet Dawn Stoen

Benet Dawn Stoen, 11
Austin, Minnesota

Lilly of the South Mary Zhong

Mary Zhong, 13
Plano, Texas

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