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Whisper

De
352 pages
Sixteen-year-old Whisper, who has a cleft palate, lives in an encampment with three other young rejects and their caregiver, Nathanael. They are outcasts from a society (in the not-too-distant future) that kills or abandons anyone with a physical or mental disability. Whisper's mother visits once a year. When she dies, she leaves Whisper a violin, which Nathanael teaches her to play. Whisper's father comes to claim her, and she becomes his house slave, her disfigurement hidden by a black veil. But when she proves rebellious, she is taken to the city to live with other rejects at a house called Purgatory Palace, where she has to make difficult decisions for herself and for her vulnerable friends.
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Whisper
Whisper
Chris StruykBonn
Whisper
Chris StruykBonn
Copyright ©2014Chris StruykBonn
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
StruykBonn, Christina, author Whisper / Chris StruykBonn.
Issued in print and electronic formats. isbn 9781459804753 (pbk.).isbn 9781459804760 (pdf). isbn 9781459804777 (epub)
I. Title. pz7.s9135wh2014j813'.6 c20139066837 c20139066845
First published in the United States,2014 Library of Congress Control Number:2013954148
Summary: Whisper, a teen girl with a cleft palate, is forced to survive in a world that is hostile to those with disfigurements or disabilities.
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.
Design by Chantal Gabriell Cover image by Juliana Kolesova
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
171615144321
For Eric, Quinten and Eli.
On the very first day of my existence, hands pushed me into the cold water and held me down, waiting for me to drown, but even thenI was quiet and knew how to hold my breath.
Part One
One
ït was my job to catc te crayIs or dînner. ï dîdn’t mînd. ï trîed not to et Jeremîa and Eva know tat ï actuay îked ît. hey saw ît as punîsment, standîng în te cod water, waîtîng and watcîng or te pîncers to appear rom beneat te sîppery rocks. Jeremîa tougt tat e soud catc tem as a man woud—eap îg, pounce, grab anytîng e coud get od o. He emerged rom te stream wetter tan te crayIs, rustrated wît work tat produced so îtte and took so ong. Eva quîcky ost înterest în te task. Se gazed up înto te brances o te trees and ten ummed to erse, dîstracted by zoomîng dragonLîes or te îgt ractured by te eaves. Se woud swîm wît te Is, padde wît te ducks and become part o nature rater tan try to capture ît. We woud starve î we ad to depend on er abîîtyto gater ood.
1
Chris StruykBonn
ï was quîet and stî, îke a ea Loatîng în te stream. he crayIs became accustomed to my cammy eet occupyîng space besîde teîr avorîte rock, and tey started to trust me. ï coud amost ear tem, even beneat te water, as tey crept across te bottom o te creek. Everytîng ese became background noîse—te screec o te crîckets, te gurge o te water, te ruste o rubbîng eaves. hen ï eased my and troug te water and grabbed tem just beînd te pîncers, swît and sure. But tat day, just as ï was about to grab a crayIs wît ony one pîncer, te warnîng ca înterrupted me, and ï mîssed. he warnîng ca meant a vîsîtor. ï crouced, twîstîng my ead în a rantîc searc or a îdîng pace tat woud protect not me rom tem, but tem rom me. My breat came în sort bursts, and te poundîng o my eart drowned out a oter sounds. ï’d dropped too ow and te seat o my sorts ad soaked up te water, cîngîng to my skîn. he sîence o te woods et unnervîng, îke te eavy aîr beore a storm. We ony ever receîved two vîsîtors at our secret orest îdeaway were te eaves o te oaks, stranger Igs and sky-reacîng pînes saded us rom sîgt. he nearest vîage, a tîny pace wît our more uts tan ours, was a day’s wak troug te trees, and te vîagers dîdn’t îke to come upon our camp o outcast cîdren by surprîse. he messenger came once a mont, and we prepared or îs appearance by îdîng. he ony oter vîsîtor was my moter, wo aways came on my bîrtday, but my bîrtday was stî our weeks away. ï îd ow în te buses and înced orward, pusîng asîde brances, crusîng te orest debrîs, sîent as breat. he sudden buzz o a cîcada vîbrated te aîr around me.
2
Whisper
ï approaced te back o my og-and-mud ut and crept around ît untî ï was udded between Jeremîa’s dweîng and mîne. Our camp, so tîny and coîstered, consîsted o our uts: mîne, Jeremîa and Eva’s, Natanae’s and te storage ut. hey squatted în a roug cîrce, wît our Ire pît and sîttîng ogs creatîng te ub. Trees darkened te sky around our camp, eavîng ony a sma round openîng above us were we coud see te stars at nîgt, te sun durîng te eat o te day and te sîver Las o an aîrpane as ît drew înes across te sky. We knew about aîrpanes, rerîgerators, trucks, toîets—Natanae ad educated us about te word beyond our camp—but knowedge and experîence are two dîferent tîngs. Jeremîa crouced în te sadow o îs ut, Ive-year-od Eva besîde îm. Bot stared at me wît wîde eyes. Jeremîa ad îs good arm around Eva, stîîng er motîons and camîng tem bot. hey ad ess tan ï dîd—tey dîdn’t even ave moters wo vîsîted tem—but tey aso dîdn’t ave aters wo ad trîed to drown tem. Natanae ad tod tem o my îstory so teîr jeaousy woudn’t consume tem wen my moter came to vîsît. ï Lattened myse agaînst te roug og wa o my ut and peeked around te sîde. Natanae stood by te Ire pît în te mîdde o our camp. he sun beînd te trees cast dapped sadows over îs ace. He waîted, and wîe e waîted e seemed to srînk. Hîs cotes, wîc used to It îm, now Lapped, oose and baggy, about îs body. Even îs soes ooked ong and awkward. We dîdn’t know wat woud appen to us wen Natanae, now sîxty-nîne, became too od to care or te unwanted. Were woud we go? Wat woud we do?
3
Chris StruykBonn
“Wo are you?” Natanae saîd, îs voîce waverîng wît age and peraps ear. “Wat do you want?” he messenger, wo ad never come mîd-mont, tramped te eaves and stîcks o te woods, pused troug te angîng brances tat sîeded our uts rom vîew and stepped out rom te sadows. He wore te bî o îs at sîdeways, îs pants so yeow tey gowed, îs sîrt so red ît Lased îke a cardîna troug te trees. Hîs coors aerted a te creatures o te woods, încudîng ourseves. ï dîdn’t understand wy e ad come; usuay e carrîed te eavy oad o our suppîes. hîs tîme, a e ad was îs own ood pack, a bunde under îs sîrt and sometîng back strapped to îs back. And ten ï eard te peep. ït sounded îke a kîtten—îts îg mew made my ands Lutter. ï put my pam agaînst my cest, araîd tat my eart woud respond to te cry and revea my îdîng spot. he messenger sat on te og and opened îs sîrt. Natanae sat besîde îm. Te messenger took out a sma bunde wrapped în cot and aîd ît on îs knees. Bot Natanae and te messenger ooked down at ît. ï stopped breatîng. Natanae grunted. “hey come so oten now, one every tree years. Beore, ît was one every ten or twenty,” Natanae saîd. ï ganced toward te graveyard. ow-angîng îmbs, vînes and srubs obscured te space between me and te our graves, but ï knew tey were tere. One ad dîed ater ï came, beore Eva arrîved, beore ï understood tat some babîes îved. “How od?” Natanae asked. “hree days.”
4