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Authors: Heather A. Clark

Elephant in the Sky

BOOK: Elephant in the Sky
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PRAISE FOR CHAI TEA SUNDAY

[Y]ou cannot help but be moved, amused, and frightened by the orphans Nicky teaches. You want to help them, and Clark … has used her enormous mothering impulse to generate interest in these lost kids.

—
Globe and Mail

Chai Tea Sunday
is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. A story about love and loss, it's real, honest, and compelling. I loved it.

— Chantel Guertin, bestselling author of
Stuck in Downward Dog

Life affirming … every woman will be able to relate to some part of the journey Heather A.Clark has created. Through the heartbreak and the happiness, I couldn't put it down.

— Liza Fromer, host of Global's
The Morning Show

Clark effortlessly takes the reader to the emotional and physical places her characters go and has written a moving tale about love, loss, and caring. The story, like the land in which it takes place, is full of contradictions — both wonderfully sad and beautifully uplifting — and it breathes life into the understanding that most readers have about how people might actually live in Kenya through layers of dimension and richness.

— Julie Osborne, deputy publisher,
Maclean's
magazine

Heather has painted a picture that so many women will relate to. The main character, Nicky, became my best friend while I read the book. She had a story that I so deeply related to — I cried when she did and rejoiced in her happiness. I found myself learning lessons that I will apply to my own life. But even above these lessons, I just found myself enjoying a great story of adventure and love.

— Christina Litz, iVillage.ca

C
hai Tea Sunday
is a beautifully written novel about life, love, loss, and living. The characters and emotions are so real, and raw, at times I felt that I was experiencing their circumstances first hand. Clark has written an incredible first novel.

— Joanna Track, founder, eLuxe.ca

The novel tells the story of a life complicated by first-world problems that is put into the context of lives in developing and unstable cultures.

—
Waterloo Region Record

Chai Tea Sunday
by Heather A. Clark is a thoughtful new novel that is sure to pull at your heartstrings.

—
Haliburton County Echo
(Book of the Week)

This is a light and straightforward read that still explores the nature of true love and the delicacy of human rights… . This is a book you can feel good about buying, too: a portion of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to Artbound, a Canadian volunteer initiative committed to building schools in developing nations.

—
Scene
magazine

[
Chai Tea Sunday
] is a refreshing and enjoyable read.

—
The Guelph Mercury

A week later, after reading close to half a dozen [more] books, I can't forget the lessons learned in
Chai Tea Sunday
. I loved this novel… . It brought tears to my eyes and was hard to put down as I turned pages waiting to see what would become of Nicky.

—
Roundtable Reviews

I was mesmerized and read
Chai Tea Sunday
in one sitting. I just couldn't put the book down and didn't want it to end. This is one novel I won't soon forget and it has earned a spot on my permanent bookshelf! Congratulations Ms. Clark on a wonderful debut novel!

—
The Book Bag Lady

As I started reading this book, I could not put it down. I was originally drawn to learning about the relationship of Nicky and her husband, then I was torn as they battled difficulty. As Nicky moved her life to try to regain a sense of herself, I packed my bag to join her.

— Mother Daughter Reading Team

In style, the writing reminds this reader of Lisa Genova, author of
Still Alice
and
Left Neglected
. Although the story presents an experience for the main character with which I cannot personally identify, I was moved nonetheless.

—
Julie's Reading Corner

HEATHER A. CLARK

ELEPHANT

in the
SKY

ECW PRESS

In loving memory of GAC

1

Nate

I want gum. Not the gross green kind that Mom has in her purse. I need the awesome sticky pink gum. Or the purple kind. That's good too. The yummy Hubba Bubba stuff that lets you blow a bubble so big it sticks to your whole face when it pops.

One time last summer I blew my best bubble ever. It took four pieces. And it was so amazing because it went in my eyes and all over my hair. And Mom was mad. I knew right away because her face was all blotchy and red. And she kept biting her lip when she used ice to get it all out of my hair.

“I'm going to get pink gum. No … I want purple. Or maybe orange. Wanna come?” I ask my best friend, Noah. He lives four doors down from me in the blue house and we do everything together. Our favourite thing is swimming. But Mom says we can't do that anymore because summer is over and the pool is closed. So instead we ride our bikes. As long as we have sweaters on because it's starting to be cold.

“Noah?” I repeat. He is ignoring me. “Do you want to come?”

Noah shrugs. He doesn't look away from the Wii game he's playing in my bedroom. It's tennis. Our favourite. I thought I wanted to play with him but then I started and it kept hurting my eyes, so I stopped. And now I want gum, anyway.

“How are you going to get it?” Noah asks me. His eyes stay on the screen.

“There's gum at the store. Lots of it. I'll bike.”

Noah shrugs. He doesn't care about my gum.

But I want it. I need to have it. Even though I know I shouldn't go to the store by myself.

I pause for a minute. I feel bubbles in my belly. The kind that come when I know Mommy will be mad. And I feel hot. I always feel hot right after the belly bubbles.

I push past Noah and the Wii remote he's still holding. I need to get to my dresser fast before I start sweating. The sweating happens after I feel hot.

I rip off my sauce-stained sweatshirt. Dad made spaghetti when he picked me up from school for lunch. It's Friday and he said we could have a special treat. So I picked spaghetti. But then I didn't feel like eating it so I used it to paint rocket ships on my belly. I thought Dad would think I was creative and smart. But Dad just seemed mad when he saw my rocket ships.

I tear open my top drawer. I pull out the first T-shirt I can find. It's red. I wish I wore that at lunch. Maybe Dad wouldn't have seen the spaghetti sauce.

I put the red T-shirt on.

I'm still hot. And I'm sweating now too. I pull off my track pants so I'm wearing just the red T-shirt and my Spider-Man underwear. They are totally my favourite underwear. They are from Santa. And I still believe in him even though everyone at school says he's not real.

I think about putting on some shorts but I am too hot. And the belly bubbles are getting bigger.

I need gum. Orange gum.

“You're going out there like that?” Noah asks. “Don't you think your mom will be mad?”

I know he is right. Mommy will be mad. But shorts will make me too hot.

Oh, I know what to do!

I will put on another pair of underwear. The blue ones. They will cover up my Spider-Man
real
underwear. I am smart for coming up with this solution. Mommy will be happy. She likes it when I think of my own ways to solve my problems.

But then something does not feel right on my insides. I don't know why.

I think it is because the red shirt is too tight and it is pressing on my belly bubbles. I yank it off and pull out all of my shirts from the drawer.

I try on a yellow one. It's scratchy.

I switch it for an orange one. Mommy says it is faded. And way too small for me and needs to be thrown out. But I will not throw it out no matter what. I love it because it says “Grandpa Loves Me”
and I don't see him anymore. It was the last present he gave me. So I will wear it forever.

The orange Grandpa shirt is too tight on my arms. It hurts.

So I try every other shirt in the drawer.

Nothing works.

I am hot anyway so I decide that wearing two pairs of underwear is kind of like wearing a bathing suit. And summer wasn't that long ago. I need my gum.

I run to my door and listen. I know my big sister Grace is in her room pretending to do homework. And she will tell Dad if she knows I am going to get gum. She always tells on me.

“Dude, you gotta make a run for it if you're going to get gum. Just go already, would you?” Noah gives me a little push.

I look back at him. I am not sure I should go anymore. I don't know what to do. I cannot seem to think and my brain feels all fuzzy.

“What if they find out?” I ask Noah. I do not want Mommy or Daddy to be mad at me. But I need to get the gum. I
have
to have the gum.

“Dude, if you want the gum that bad, I'll lie for you. I'll say you're going poo in the bathroom or something. Just go.”

I do not want Grace to stop me so I run down the hall. Superman fast. I pass her bedroom. I think I hear Grace humming but I am running too fast to know. She must
actuall
y
be doing her homework because she always hums when she's doing it. It hurts my ears, but Mommy likes it.

I do not know where Dad is so I grab my bike from the garage and ride down the street very fast. I speed to the next street. Cars zoom by me. There are so many of them. One almost hits me. The guy driving the car honks his horn. But I don't care. The outside feels good. I am almost not hot anymore. But the belly bubbles will not go away.

I ride to the store. I jump off my bike and run to the fruit stands outside on the sidewalk. I smell grapes. So I stop to look at them. There are rows and rows of the dark purple kind that turn into grape jelly. I want to eat one because they remind me of my Mommy. They are her favourite.

But I need my gum. So I forget the grapes and run to the front counter. There is a skinny man in a white shirt with a green apron sitting on a stool. He does not look up from his book but waves his hand to say hello. He does not see me.

I look at the gum. I want red.

No, pink.

Purple.

Or maybe orange.

Nope. Pink. It has to be pink.

I feel hot again. I cannot decide. I do not know which one I want and my brain is buzzing.

I will buy them all with my money. Dad gave it to me as a prize after lunch because I helped him clean up and did not break one dish. I put it in the pocket of my pants to keep it safe.

I look down.

I am not wearing my pants anymore. I do not have my money. I try to figure out how to get the five-dollar bill from lunch. Dad gave me that one because he knows it is my favourite money because I love blue so much.

Oh, right! Now I know.
Blue
gum. It's my favourite colour so I know I will love it. Do they have blue gum? They must.

I keep looking but can't find it. I do not know if there is blue gum. I need to think harder. But my brain is working too fast. I cannot make it stop no matter how I try. I hit my head with my hands to try to make it work better.

And then I remember something important.

The big bubble gum machine from swimming lessons. Mommy sometimes gets gum for me if the swimming teacher does not need to “talk to her” after my lesson is over. When I am good I get to put a quarter in the bubble gum machine that has all different colours of big sticky gumballs. And it has
blue
gumballs.

I know there must be blue gum if the swimming gumball machine has it. I pull off some chocolate bars from the counter shelf to look underneath them. The chocolate hits the floor and the noise sounds kind of like the drums on my Wii Rock Band game. I like the sound. So I pull off some more. There is no blue gum under the chocolate bars.

The man in the green apron looks up from his book. He looks really mad. He is shaking his arms and yelling at me but I cannot understand his words. His voice sounds funny to me. So I start laughing.

The man yells at me in a louder voice. And I still think it is funny. So I laugh harder. It is like a contest to see who is louder. And I want to win.

But then I stop laughing. It is not funny anymore. I hear what the man is yelling. He is telling me to get out of his store. But I cannot leave yet because I need my blue gum.

The man starts screaming the word “police.” I am happy because the police help you. And I need help because the man is not funny anymore and he is scaring me. I want to go but I cannot leave without my gum. There is no blue so I get pink and purple and red and orange. Four packs.

The man comes out from behind the counter. He grabs my arm. I am really scared so I kick him in the leg and pull away.

Then I grab my bike and ride home as fast as I can so I can share my gum with Noah.

BOOK: Elephant in the Sky
13.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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