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After moving from a small town in Canada to a big U.S. city, Gale struggles to adapt

Gale was a late sleeper. She had always been. It was just her way of responding to the weekend. But for some reason, she felt as if she wanted to get up now. And what made it odder was that it was the last day of summer vacation. Typically, she would have crammed as much late-sleeping into the day as she could, but no. She was getting up right now.

Gale rolled out of bed (getting her blankets tangled around herself in the process) and fell to the floor, letting out an involuntary groan. She sat up and looked around. Her room was clean and tidy as always. On one side of the room there were two windows, both of them a quarter of the way open, and beside her bed was a green crate that served as a bedside table. A few feet away from the foot of the bed, mounted on the wall, was an ugly white wire shelf. On it were all sorts of things, from kindergarten artwork to baseball trophies.

Gale turned on her fan. Summers in Houston could be hot. She then pulled on a T-shirt and jeans and yanked her long black hair into a ponytail.

Gale thumped down the stairs, clearing the last four in a massive leap and checked the breadbox for sliced bread. It was the only kind she would willingly digest.

“Gay-o,” yelled Violet, Gale’s twoyear- old sister, as she charged into the kitchen. She wrapped her arms around Gale’s legs, preventing her from moving. Gale, ignoring her human barnacle, pivoted and grabbed a jar of peanut butter.

Early on, she had learned that it was no use asking her sister to stop. Violet would just laugh maniacally like a tiny Disney villain and hold tighter. Siblings were odd that way.

Gale layered her peanut butter about an inch thick on her toast. She had a bit of a peanut butter problem. She bit into her toast and instantly

found her teeth stuck together. After finishing her toast, she licked the peanut butter off of her fingers to make sure they were clean.

Gale pried her sister off her legs and dashed outside to enjoy the warm summer air and flopped down onto the grass. She missed her old home. Gale hated living in Houston. She just wasn’t a city person.

They used to live in British Columbia, Canada. “They” being Gale, her mom, and her dad. Violet hadn’t been born yet.

Her home had been in a small town by the sea. It rained all through the year and never snowed. But she loved her old home. She remembered the chipped brown paint of the house, the front door with the big silver knocker, and most of all, the big balcony where she used to imagine that she was a wildlife photographer. She had always been more secure with animals than her friends. She was different from them in that. While they all dreamed of being astronauts and police officers when they grew up, all she wanted to do was to be romping through the woods with her friends, the animals.

They had lived on the outskirts of town. Their house had been surrounded by pines. Back on the west coast, conifers were everywhere. They were lush green due to all the rain. Green, the color of the docks with all the boats moored to them. Green, the color of the sea. Green, the color of the grass on their lawn after a rainstorm. Green was everything back there.

She needed to be walking through the woods, rain pattering on her hood, legs soaked.

She remembered her friends, the gray jays. Whenever she went outside, she would bring a couple of nuts in her pocket in case she saw one. Then, she would hold out her hand; they would land on it and start poking around. They would pick up the nut and fly away.

Fly away. They would fly away just like she flew away to Houston.

She had always preferred sailing. Gale’s family had owned a small canoe. By the time she was eight, she knew all the strokes and could paddle effectively. By the time she was 10, she was allowed to go out on the ocean by herself. She would bring her fishing rod, but always spincast with it. She refused to learn any other technique.

Back then she had a routine. Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays were for homework. Thursdays were free. Fridays were for baseball practice and Saturdays were the games. But her favorite days of all were Sundays. Fishing days. In the morning, Gale and her family would go to church. Afterward, she would dash outdoors, untie the boat from the dock, and paddle out as far as she could. Then she would start fishing.

She could almost smell the salty air, feel the paddle in her hands, see the fish swimming in the murky water. That was her old life.

“Gay-o”! yelled the unmistakable voice of Violet. She stopped when she saw the expression on Gale’s face. “Miss home?” asked Violet, wrapping her pudgy arms around her.

“Yeah,” said Gale. “Yeah, I do.”

Sascha Farmer
Sascha Farmer, 12
Northampton, MA

Oishee Sinharay
Oishee Sinharay, 11
Pennington, NJ