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Escape Velocity

240 pages
Lou's dad has been addicted to painkillers since an accident left him unable to work. He's a good, loving dad, but kind of useless. Lou's mother, Zoe, a successful novelist, abandoned Lou at birth and showed no interest in her until three years ago, when Lou was twelve. Their relationship since then has been strained, but when Lou's dad has a stroke, there is nowhere else for her to go while he recovers. Lou struggles to find her bearings and figure out why her mom left her all those years ago. She is convinced the answers are in Zoe's fiction, but when Lou's grandmother, Heather, appears at a reading, Lou realizes she may have misjudged her mother.
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Miracleville M O N I Q U E P O L A K Escape Velôciy
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Escape Velôciy
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Text copyright ©2011Robin Stevenson 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
Stevenson, Robin, 1968 Escape velocity [electronic resource] / Robin Stevenson.
Type of computer file: Electronic monograph in PDF format. Issued also in print format. isbn 9781554698677
I. Title. ps8637.t487e83 2011a jc813'.6 c20119034840
First published in the United States,2011Library of Congress Control Number:2011929278
Summary: Forced to live with the mother who abandoned her at birth, Lou goes looking for truth in her mother’s fiction.
Orca Book Publishers is dedicated to preserving the environment and has printed ® this book on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council .
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 Cover photo by Getty Images Author photo by David Lowes
orca book publishers po Box 5626,Stn. B Victoria,bc Canadav8r 6s4
orca book publishers po Box 468 Custer,wa usa 982400468
www.orcabook.com Printed and bound in Canada.
To Ilse, with all my love.
r. Samson îs up a e ron o e cassroom, M gooîng around. He’s preendîng we’re a on Physics Jeopardyand e’s e os. He as a cakboard eraser în îs and and e’s odîng î în ron o îs mou îke a mîke. “Te answer îs…eeven poîn wo kîomeers per second,” e sous. he guy besîde me bangs îs and on îs desk and makes a oud buzzer noîse. “Wa îs escape veocîy?” e says. ï cac my brea.Escape Velocity.ï can see e words speed ou în Ine back eerîng above my moer’s name, e jacke cover e pae grayîs bue o a December sky,
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e dark sîouee o a bîrd în lîg. Someow, despîe readîng e book over and over agaîn, ï aîed o reaîze a e îe o my moer’s nove ad anyîng o do wî scîence. ï wonder wa ese ï ave mîssed. “Very good, Meyers.” Mr. Samson poîns a îm. “You’re e man.” Samson îs seîng îmse up o be saugered. ï’d warn îm, bu e probaby woudn’ beîeve me. Even oug e’s a eas en years oder an me, e seems kînd o înnocen. Sayîng suf îke “You’re e man” and no knowîng ow gooy e sounds. No knowîng e soud be more careu. ï’s îke noîng bad as ever appened o îm. He urns o me. “Bonus poîns, Lou, î you can e us a wa escape veocîy îs.” “Sorry,” ï say. Samson ooks dîsappoîned. “Take a so a î.” He waîs or a mînue, bu ï don’ say anyîng, and en a gîr up ron raîses er and and e cas on er wî a dramaîc wave. “A, Asey o e rescue,” e says and smîes a er. Asey smooes er ong aîr and reurns îs smîe. “he ermescape velocityreers o e speed an objec as o rave o escape Ear’s gravîaîona pu.” ï îmagîne myse lyîng îno e sky, my body somer-sauîng roug e couds. ï urns ou a couds aren’
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îke coon woo ater a bu îke srîps o orn co, we and cod agaîns my skîn. hen ï’m urîng onward, up above e ayers o coud. he aîr îs în and sarp as îce în my ungs, and ï’m rockeîng away rom Ear, lyîng ou o e bue and îno e back. And ï’m sî lyîng, bu ere’s noîng o measure my speed agaîns. here are sars a around me, bu no rea îg anywere, ony space, sîen and cod and empy and endess. Gravîy îs ar beînd menow; ï can barey remember î. Noîng îs odîngme anymore. A and on my souder. “Are you seepîng? Lou? You okay?” ï’s Samson. ï sake my ead. “Fîne. Sorry.” ï sumbe o my ee and reaîze a everyone as et e cassroom excep me and îm. ï dîdn’ even ear e buzzer. “Jus îred ï guess.” “ï you ever need o ak…” Hîs eyes are kînd, îs voîce enaîve. ï can e a e doesn’ wan o pry. “hanks,” ï say. “ï’m Ine.” A prîckîng eeîng begîns a my scap and moves downward, îke cod Ingers brusîng e back o my neck and racîng an îcy pa down my back. “Are you sure? Because î ere’s ever anyîng ï can do…ï mean, you know.” He gîves me a smîe, a u-on genuîne smîe a seems o come rom somewere deep and rea. ï can ee
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e warm comîng of îm, and ï wîs ï coud move coser e way you do a a campIre, srecîng your ands oward e lames wîe beînd you e nîg aîr sînks îs cî îno your spîne. “Tanks,” ï say agaîn. “U, so wa’s your name?ï mean, your Irs name?” He bînks. “Tom.” “We, anks. Tom. Can ï ca you Tom en? Ousîde cass, ï mean? ï’s a nîce name. ï suîs you.” “ï înk you’d beer sîck o Mr. Samson.” He cears îs roa. “You soud ge o your nex cass, Lou.”
On e way ome ater scoo, ï break îno a run. ï’m no a runner. ï’ve aways been cumsy, and besîdes, oday îs a scorcer. ï’s ae Sepember, bu e surace o e maîn road îs radîaîng ea. You can see e burrîness o î în ron o your eyes, îke you’re no ocusîng rîg. ï run anyway, as as ï can go, egs burnîng, ces bursîng, ear ammerîng, ee poundîng a sraîg îne across e cracked armac.Escape velocity. My ee brîng me rîg back o e same pace as aways. Dad’s a sîîng, a yîng on e couc în ron o e eevîsîon, a beer în îs and. He’s go a eavy
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gass asray baanced on e curve o îs bey and e’s lîckîng cannes wî e remoe, no wacîng anyîng or more an Ive seconds. he sound îs mued, and e’s go Lou Reed payîng soty on e sereo. A pîzza box îs on e loor, a bîg greasy cîrce împrîned on e empy cardboard. “Dîdn’ you save me any?” ï ask. ï am breaîng ard, my back sîck wî swea, my în T-sîr pasered o my skîn. He gruns and adjuss e asray so a e can sî up and ook a me. ï kîck a e pîzza box. “You ae e woe îng?” Dad sares a e empy box on e loor as î e doesn’ know ow î go ere. hen e srugs. “Lîgen up, Lou. here’s peny o ood în e kîcen. Anyway, ï skîpped unc. ï was sarvîng.” He îts îs beer boe, wînks a me and pus on îs Homer Sîmpson voîce. “Dînner: a nîce break beween work and drunk.” Work? He asn’ worked în more an wo years. “Hîarîous. You’re a goddamn comedîan.” “Yea, ï mîssed my caîng a rîg.” He pus e asray down on e arm o e couc and gîves me a ook. “You okay, Lou?” ï nod. “Fîne. Hungry.” “Mmm. Scoo okay? No probems?”
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“ï’s Ine. Lîke ï saîd.” ï ook pas îm a e square o bue sky ï can see roug e wîndow. Fa sats o sunîg sîce roug e a-open bînds and cac on specks o dus and bue-gray smoke. Lou Reed îs sîngîng abou eroîn. You’d înk î Dad ad o name me ater a junkîe, e coud’ve a eas pîcked a emae one. ï run my ongue over e roug corner on my ron oo were ï cîpped î aîng of my bîke a coupe o years ago.Lou.Suc a dumb name or a gîr. Dad wînces, rubs îs back and sîts îs posîîon on e couc. “Love you, kîddo.” “ï know,” ï say. “Love you oo, Dad.” “Go ou wî some rîends, wy don’ ya?” He bus ou îs cîgaree. “You’re Iteen, or crîssakes. You soud go ou more. Your rîends’ ceer you up.” “ï’s hursday,” ï say. “ï’ve go o go o work.”
Dad îs wrong abou ere beîng ood în e kîcen. here never îs, uness ï buy î. Here’s wa ere îs: musard, kecup and mayo în e rîdge; a buk-sîze box o crackers; ree unopened cans o spageî sauce; a box o asagna noodes a as been ere or as ong as ï can remember, because ï ave no îdea ow o make asagna;