Table of Contents
Published by Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
First published in 2011 by Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Copyright © Kristen Chandler, 2011
All rights reserved
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Girls don’t fly / by Kristen Chandler.
Summary: Myra, a high school senior, will do almost anything to win a contest and earn money for a study trip to the Galápagos Islands, which would mean getting away from her demanding family life in Utah and ex-boyfriend Erik, but Erik is set on winning the same contest.
ISBN : 978-1-101-54792-2
[1. Family life—Utah—Fiction. 2. Scholarships—Fiction. 3. Contests—Fiction.
4. Dating (Social customs)—Fiction. 5. Pregnancy—Fiction. 6. Galápagos Islands—Fiction.
7. Utah—Fiction.] I. Title. II. Title: Girls do not fly.
PZ7.C359625Gir 2011 [Fic]—dc22 2011010563
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
The place where you’re stuck.
If I close my eyes and concentrate on the squawking gulls and the heat of the sun on my skin, it’s almost like I’m at the beach. With Erik. I breathe deeply the salty air coming off the waves. I’m toasted brown and relaxed in my swimsuit. Erik has his fingers woven into mine, but we’re not sweaty, itchy, or about to talk about our relationship. I’m not afraid of anything and nothing is ever going to change, because this moment is absolutely perfect.
If I open my eyes, I’m still living in Landon. The pit of Utah.
I keep my eyes shut as long as I can.
“Myra?” yells Carson.
I sit up fast. My six-year-old brother stands in front of me. His face is streaked with mud. “He’s dead.”
I get to my feet. “Who?”
“Spinosaurus. He’s disappeared.”
I survey our beat yard. Andrew and Brett are building a fort out of a packing box and for the time being they aren’t hitting each other. I say, “Maybe he’s just growing up to be a fossil.”
Carson drops his head. “He’s too young to be a fossil.”
I take Carson’s muddy fingers out of his mouth and swab him with a tissue I keep in my pocket. “We’ll find him. It’s okay.”
The gulls bellyache overhead. Carson says, “The birds got him.”
“No. Gulls don’t like dinosaurs,” I say.
Carson says, “I don’t like seagulls.”
I like seagulls. These are from the Great Salt Lake, which is about ten miles from my house. Everyone thinks of them as trash birds, but not every bird would pick a field clean of crickets for starving pioneers. The Mormons say God got the birds to do it, but God or no God, seagulls have been cleaning up ever since.
Over by the house, my parents pretend to discuss patio cement, my mother’s latest home improvement project. Their unhappy voices drift across the yard. “If you settle for something you don’t want, you live to regret it,” says Mom, shifting my youngest brother to her other hip. She’s hauled six of us around on those hips, but Danny’s way too big for her to be packing.
Dad rubs his forehead. “Sometimes you just have to make the best of things.”
“And sometimes you have to cut your losses,” Mom chirps.
This conversation is actually about my previously perfect sister, Melyssa. She and Zeke are coming over to talk about their wedding plans, but she’s late. About five months late. One year into her full ride to college and my genius sister couldn’t figure out how not to get pregnant. My parents have been out of their minds since they found out two weeks ago.
“And what do you suggest?” says Dad.
Mom says, “As if what
“I want to play,” says Danny.
Mom carts Danny back into the shadow of the house. Dad stands looking around for a minute and then follows her in. I should rescue Danny, but I know my mom needs something to hold on to this afternoon.
In a few minutes I find Carson’s missing toy dinosaur and order is restored to the universe. I go back to my plastic chair. It’s only the end of February and the snow’s already gone. I’m hoping for a sunburn before my date with Erik tonight. I have absolutely no idea what to wear. He said he wants to take me “someplace nice,” which could be a good thing, but what if it isn’t?
I close my eyes again and listen to the gulls’ high-pitched cries. They always sound so much better when they’re flying than when they’re on the ground, like the wind gives them a different vocabulary. I slip off my shoes. When I close my eyes this time I still see Erik with his shirt off, but there’s no water or birds or hand-holding. It’s not perfect either.
I open my eyes. More gulls. Not peaceful, soaring gulls, but a squadron of big white bombers headed right for our yard. Squawking like crazy. Coming in for a landing. Dive-bombing on a patch of spilled cheese crackers. Andrew and Brett pick up rocks before the first bird touches ground.
“Leave them alone,” I call over the screeching.
Not even the birds look up.
I yell louder, “Don’t. Even. Think. About it.”
I run across the dirt in my bare feet and catch Andrew’s hand.
“Get ’em!” yells Andrew.
The birds flutter but don’t fly. Brett takes aim and I reach for his hand too. Brett brings his arm down to get away and hits me square in the eye with his rock. It rings my bell all the way down.
“Wow, sorry, Myra,” says Brett.
“The rock,” I say, sucking air. The second thing I think about, after how I probably have brain damage, is that I’m going to look like a prizefighter at dinner tonight.
Brett says, “Are you okay?”
The birds fly. I feel dizzy. I get back to my chair and sit down. The boys follow me.