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After the Fire

192 pages
Melissa is waiting for the "new life" that her mother Sharlene has promised her since a fire devastated their family. But nothing ever seems to change. Melissa has difficulty making friends at school, they never have enough money and her little brother Cody is a brat. When Sharlene announces that they will be spending the month of August at a remote cabin on a wilderness lake, Melissa is less than thrilled. But there is more to do at the lake than she expected, and she is surprised to learn that her mother knows how to paddle a canoe, fish and make bannock and s'mores. On an island in the middle of the lake, Melissa meets Alice, a strange girl who is writing a fantasy novel. Alice shares her tree fort on the island with Melissa, and while at first Melissa is attracted to Alice's strong personality and her stories of her "perfect family," she becomes increasingly uneasy around Alice. As Melissa's relationship with her mother improves and her confidence increases, she is able to hold her own with Alice and start to appreciate her own imperfect family.
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After the Fire
Afterhet Fire
AftertheFire B E C K Y C I T R A
Text copyright ©2010Becky Citra All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Citra, Becky After the fire / written by Becky Citra.
ISBN 9781554692460
I. Title.
PS8555.I87A64 2010 jC813'.54 C20099068591
First published in the United States,2010Library of Congress Control Number:2009940905
Summary: When Melissa spends the summer at a wilderness lake with her singleparent mother and bratty younger brother, she makes friends with Alice, a mysterious girl with a strange fantasy life.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit. Cover design by Teresa Bubela Text design and typesetting by Nadja Penaluna Cover photography by Getty Images
Orca Book Publishers PO Box 5626, Stn. B Victoria, BC Canada V8R 6S4
Orca Book Publishers PO Box 468 Custer, WA USA 982400468
www.orcabook.com Printed and bound in Canada. Printed on 100% PCW recycled paper. 13 12 11 10 • 4 3 2 1
For my mother, who taught me to Love books
eîssa Ied er garbage bag wî a-drîed M coes, eaved î over er souder and et e Laundroma. Se ganced up and down e sîdewak, opîng a none o e kîds rom scoo woud see er. Se was posîîve ey a ad wasîng macînes and dryers în eîr ouses. Se cecked o make sure e brocure was sî ucked îno e back pocke o er jeans. Wa were e cances o Mom sayîng yes? Her ear udded. Wy soudn’ se be aowed o go? Mom was workîng u-îme now and se ad îned,hinted, a Meîssa mîg be abe o do someîng un îs summer. he aparmen buîdîng were se îved wî er moer and er îe broer Cody was eîg bocks
Be c k y ci t r a
away î se oowed e maîn sree bu a îe bî sorer î se cu down e aey beînd e -Eeven. Meîssa dîdn’ îke goîng a way because ere were aways a coupe o creepy-ookîng eenagers angîng around e Dumpser. Se was sure ey were doîng some kînd o drugs—ey weren’ aways e same kîds bu ey ooked e same, wî eîr wîe aces, bank eyes and back oodîes. ï was suc a o day a se decîded o ake e sorcu anyway. he garbage bag o damp coes was aready makîng er souder ace. To er reîe e aey was empy, and se urrîed as e aparmen buîdîng came îno sîg. he sîgn a e ron o e buîdîng was mîssîng eers, so însead o sayîngSkyLine Garden Apart-ments, î saîde Gard n Apartm Sk L ts. he word Gardena joke, uness you couned e pos o was geranîums on e bacony o eîr neîgbor, a sînge woman named Dana wo compaîned a o abou Cody’s noîse. Meîssa cîmbed e saîrs o e îrd loor and ugged e garbage bag o e door a e end o e a. Se coud ear musîc and, wen se opened e door, er moer’s oud roay aug. Perec îmîng. Mom sounded îke se was în a good mood, and Cody was a a bîrday pary. Meîssa et e coes în e narrow away, sepped over one o Cody’s rucks and wen îno e îny kîcen.
af t e rt h e fi r e
Her moer, Sarene, and er rîend, Jî, were sîîng a e kîcen abe drînkîng cofee. Sarene’s bond aîr was îed up în a ponyaî. Her ong egs, în îg bue jeans, were sreced ou în ron o er, and se was wearîng an aqua aer op. Besîde er, Jî ooked very paîn în a wîe bouse and beîge pans. Her moer ad a way o doîng a o peope, Meîssa ad noîced. Everyone was aways surprîsed wen ey ound ou a Meîssa, wo ad du brown aîr anda surdy buîd, was Sarene’s dauger. “Hî, darîng,” saîd Sarene. Se was odîng a cîgaree, wîc se se down în a saucer. “You’re an ange. Was î orrîbe?” “ï was okay,” saîd Meîssa. “Bu ï dîdn’ ave enoug money, so e coes aren’ dry.” “Hî, Meîssa,” saîd Jî. “Hî,” saîd Meîssa. Meîssa was never quîe sure wa o ca Jî. A scoo se was Mrs. Tempeon. Se aug e our-grade cass across e a rom Meîssa’s grade-sîx cassroom. Bu aey se spen so muc îme a eîr aparmen, se ad od Meîssa o ca er Jî wen ey weren’ a scoo. here was no way Meîssa coud do a. Mrs. Tempeon ad been Meîssa’s eacer în grade our, ong beore se ad become er moer’s bes rîend. So Meîssa soved e probem by no caîng er anyîng.
Be c k y ci t r a
here was one îng Meîssa jus dîdn’ ge. Wy woud Mrs. Tempeonchoose o be rîends wî someone îke er moer? Mrs. Tempeon was very nîce and very ordînary. Se coud ave been bes rîends wî anyone. Jus ater Crîsmas, Sarene ad been aîd of rom er job waîressîng a Smîy’s. Se ad spen weeks ryîng o Ind someîng ese. Her smokîng încreased rom sîx cîgarees a day o a pack and a a, and Meîssa was errîIed a er moer was goîng o ge cancer. Cody ad sared weîng îs bed agaîn, and Meîssa ad o sîgn up a e scoo oice or e ree unc program, wîc was umîîaîng. And en Sarene greeed er one day ater scoo wî a uge smîe. “ï’ve go a job, oney! Fînay!” Meîssa was reîeved unî se ound ou wa î was. “he cusodîan? You’re goîng o be e new cusodîan amyscoo?” “ï’s emporary,” saîd Sarene. “ï’m akîng over wîe Mr. Sore îs away on sîck eave. Bu ï ave a eeîng î coud ead o someîng permanen. he word îs a e poor man îs no doîng a a we.” “You can’!” Meîssa ad saîd însany. Scoo was ard enoug. Se dîdn’ I în, even oug se ad been goîng o Huney Eemenary sînce grade ree. A roug grade ree and mos o grade our, Meîssa ad been învîsîbe. Se was sy a scoo,
af t e rt h e fi r e
and se ad never dared o învîe kîds ome. Ater a errîbe nîg wo years ago, peope sared noîcîng er. Bu now ey e sorry or er, wîc wasn’ e same as îkîng er. Her moer, e cusodîan? Se’d be ere, sweepîng e aways, every day. hîs was way,wayworse an geîng a ree unc. Bu ree mons aer, Meîssa ad o admî î ad urned ou okay. Sarene acuay îked e job and was rîed wen Mr. Sore decîded no o come back. Cody, wose day care was în a porabe beînd e scoo, was ecsaîc because e go o see Sarene every day a uncîme. He’d ad wo mons o dry nîgs. To Meîssa’s amazemen, er moer was popuar. Mr. Sore used o eave nasy messages on e back-board abou e sudens’ messy desks. Sarene never dîd a. he eacers joked around wî er, and Mrs. Tempeon, wom Meîssa ad aways îked a o, became er moer’s new bes rîend. Meîssa pîcked up a cookîe rom a pae on e abe. hen se pu e cookîe down. Se ad panned o înroduce e îdea casuay, bu beore se coud sop erse se bured, “Mom! Tey ad îs brocure a scoo. here’s an ar camp în Keowna în Juy! ï’s a e unîversîy. here’s goîng o be poery and paînîng and scupure and…” Meîssa produced e brocure and apped î în e aîr. Her ands