Authors: Sylvia Olsen
Tags: #JUV031040, #JUV013060, #JUV039060
ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS
Text copyright Â© 2013 Sylvia Olsen
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
Olsen, Sylvia, 1955-
Molly's promise [electronic resource] / Sylvia Olsen.
(Orca young readers)
Issued also in print format.
I. Title. II. Series: Orca young readers (Online)
64 2013Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â j
813'.6Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
First published in the United States, 2013
Library of Congress Control Number
: When Molly has to break a long-held promise to herself, she finds her voice and reconnects with her mother, who left Molly when she was a baby.
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 artwork by Ken Dewar
Author photo by Rob Campbell
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ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS
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5626, Stn. B
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This story is for Madison,
who makes us all want to sing.
Grade seven was turning out to be Molly's best year of school yet. Ever since September, when Murphy and the other boys from the tribal school had come to Riverside Middle School, her life had taken a substantial turn for the better. She never would have thought that a boy could be her best friend. But that was exactly what had happened.
Molly hadn't had many great experiences with girlfriends in the past. In fact, grade six had been a disaster when it came to friends. Now that Murphy was her best friend, it didn't matter so much what Paige, who thought of herself as the most gorgeous girl in the entire world, or Nell and the other girls, who dedicated their lives to agreeing with Paige, thought about Molly.
She didn't only have a new best friend. She had a whole new crowd. With Murphy came three other boys, Jeff, Albert and Danny. So being friends with Murphy meant that Jeff and Albert were her friends too. And even Danny, the other member of what was sometimes called the Formidable Four, was sort of her friend.
The Formidable Four had transferred from the tribal school, a First Nations elementary school about half an hour out of town.
At first, Molly had thought, “Formidable? How arrogant!”
That was before she saw the boys play soccer and realized
was the right word. They were soccer heroes. The Riverside Strikers hadn't lost one game since the boys joined the team. Jeff was the star midfielder, Danny was the star defenseman, and Murphy was the best goalie anyone had ever seen. With Albert on the sidelines helping Coach Kennedy inspire the players, Riverside was simply unbeatable.
Before Molly met the boys, she had never given soccer much thought. Now, watching their games and cheering for her friends was one of her favorite things to do.
The girls' spring soccer season was about to begin, and Murphy kept bugging Molly to sign up. “Come on. Put on the boots,” Murphy said out on the field at lunchtime one day. He tossed her his old soccer cleats. “Let's see what you can do.”
“I don't want to wear those,” she said, turning her nose up at the thought of sharing boots with Murphy's sweaty feet.
He laughed. “If you're going to be a soccer player, you have to wear boots.”
“Okay, okay.” She stuffed her feet into the smelly boots.
“Over here.” Murphy waved to Jeff, Danny and Albert to join them.
Molly felt clumsy at first, but before long she was passing the ball to Murphy and Jeff.
“Wow! The girl is good,” Jeff said.
Molly dashed forward to catch up to the ball and send it on to Murphy.
“She's got wheels,” Murphy said. He sprinted to meet her.
Danny stood on the sidelines, looking sullen. He hated it when anyone other than him got a compliment. He also didn't think girls could play soccer. The truth was, he didn't like Molly very much. Worst of all, he thought the Formidable Four should be a boys' club and that Molly had no business hanging around with them.
“Let's see how fast she is,” Danny said, running up alongside them.
“Is that a challenge, Danno?” Albert shouted. “Did I hear you taking the girl on?”
“I'm taking you all on,” Danny said, strutting up the field.
Murphy kicked the ball to the side. “Okay, you're on.” He flagged his arm to Jeff and Molly. “Dan the Man wants to see who's got wheels. Let's go!” Murphy hollered.
“I don't want to race you guys,” Molly said. She was cold and already tired.
“You worried you're going to get beat?” Danny sneered.
“I don't care if you beat me,” she said, bending over to untie the boots.
“She's going to kick your butt,” Jeff said.
Molly hated competition. Who cared who could run the fastest? But Danny would never shut up if she refused his challenge.
She had no choice but to join the boys near the goalposts. Sometimes boys for friends were a pain. They never stopped competingâarm wrestles, pushups, chin-ups, burping, whistlingâ¦you name it, the boys never quit comparing their boy skills.
“I don't want to run this race,” she said.
“Murphy thinks you got wheels,” Danny said. “Let's see how fast they are.”
“Okay, okay,” Molly said. “But I'm only running to shut you up.”
Albert moved to the other end of the field to officiate. Molly was disappointed that Albert couldn't race with them. If he hadn't gotten leukemia and needed chemotherapy, he would have been better than everyone. Even though he was sick from his treatments, Albert still had his soccer moves. But now he had to concentrate on getting healthy. He had to beat his illness before he could play soccer again.
“The race will be from goalpost to goalpost,” said Albert.
Jeff, Molly, Danny and Murphy lined up on the outside.
Albert hollered, “Ready, set, go!”
Jeff took off ahead of the others. Danny and Molly ran elbow to elbow. She thought, for a few seconds, that she should let him win. Then, almost without thinking, she shot in front of Danny and finished a few strides behind Jeff, with Murphy taking last place.
“Whoooaahh! Way to go, girl!” Albert shouted as the four racers caught their breath. He laughed. “I'm talking to you, Danno.”
“Shut up, Albert!” Danny said, and then he suddenly began to limp. “I shouldn't have even run. My knee hurts.”
“Oh, poor Danno's little knees.” Albert snickered. “They just decided to hurt since he got whipped by a girl.”
Danny took a swing at Albert. “I said shut up.”
“Molly's fast,” Murphy said. “What's wrong with that?”
“She's a girl,” Danny said. “That's what's wrong with it.” He turned to walk away and mumbled under his breath, “A white girl.”
Murphy pushed Danny's back with both hands. “You shut up,” he said, raising his hands as if he was ready to fight.
Danny stared at Murphy for a few seconds, and then he shot off toward the school without saying a word.
The trouble with Riverside was that Molly didn't fit in with the First Nations kids, even though her dad was First Nation. And she didn't fit in with the white kids, even though her mom, whoever and wherever she might be, was white. In Riverside you were either First Nation or white. It was one or the other.
Nell, a tall blond girl, had been her best friend in grade six. But Molly wasn't Nell's best friend. Paige was. And Paige didn't like Molly one bit. In fact, Paige bullied Molly every chance she had. When Molly had told her dad about Paige's bullying, he went to talk to her parents, which only made matters worse.
It was hard for Nell and Molly to be friends. Paige had rules. She insisted her friends be 100 percent devoted to her. That meant Nell and Molly could be friends only when Paige wasn't around. Compared to Murphy, Molly had realized, Nell wasn't such a good friend after all.
Murphy stuck up for his friends, no matter what. And Murphy was half and half, just like her, except his mom was First Nation and his dad was white.
Murphy always said, “We're not half of anything, Mollyâwe're both. We're everything.”