Monday, January 29, 2007

Drafts: Frog Haven, Chapter 19

Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 , Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15. Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18

Chapter 19: Field Day

Garryd was not at the bus stop again in the morning. Sissy corned Paul LeFevre and hauled him off away from the other kids gathered under Fontenellas' oak waiting. She quizzed him about anything more he might have found out. Missing school, Paul said, was one of the things that the Social Services people had complained about in court. Garryd and Sven missed "a lot of school" by having to act as interpreters for their parents. Children in "normal" families did not have to "baby sit" for their parents. "Having to care for an adult at such a young age is not good for the proper development of children," Paul told Sissy that Social Services had said. He said it in a prissy voice imitating his father who was imitating Miss Penfield, the old biddy from Social Services.

"Another problem I heard Daddy telling Mommy about this morning," Paul lowered his voice, "when they thought I wasn't listening, was 'inadequate supervision.'" He leaned closer to Sissy, "I guess Garryd and Sven have both gotten into trouble where they used to live. I thought they were real goody-goodies, but Dad said that when Garryd's father is not home, his Mom can't tell what they are doing very well, since she is deaf and almost completely blind. Dad says she has a hard time keeping track of them and they sneak off without her knowing it."

"I thought they were all so nice. Both parents and the kids. The Mom, Elke, was so worried about Garryd that first day."

"That's probably why. She doesn't want him to get in trouble again."

"Paul and Sissy, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" Marc, Michael and Guy chanted in a singsong voice. The other kids hee-hawed like a bunch of donkeys. Everyone at the bus stop knew that Sissy and Paul hated each other. Paul turned scarlet and flew at his brother, knocking him to the ground.

The bus pulled up and everyone lined up. Guy was the last in line. He was still trying to brush grass and dirt from his clothes. Paul was just ahead on him wiping off his knees and shooting evil looks at Guy.

"Let's think of all the reasons why Garryd and Sven should stay with their parents, Sissy suggested. The bus driver hadn't opened the door yet. Lannie McKeever took out a notebook and volunteered to be the secretary.

"First of all, families are happier and better off together than apart. Sven and Garryd would be happier with their parents than with some dumb strangers," Lyssa said.

"Sven and Garryd LOVE their parents," Sissy said, "and their parents LOVE them. No one else could love them the way their parents do. And Garryd's mom is a great cook and a good housekeeper. She may be legally blind, but she keeps their house neater than my parents keep ours! And . . . "

"Whoa, Sissy, slow down, I can't write that fast," Lannie objected. The driver opened the door and they all piled aboard, continuing their suggestions.

Instead of driving away, the bus driver sat for a long time. Then he stood up and surveyed the children with his arms crossed. He stood that way for a long time while the kids waited to get bawled out. No fighting of any kind was allowed on the bus or at the bus stop, and he had obviously seen Paul tackle Guy. Finally, he turned around, sat down, and started driving. The kids sat absolutely silently until Bruce Decker and the other kids on Round Tree Lane got on. They came in laughing and chattering and soon the bus was back to normal.

Lannie passed her notebook around to anyone who had an idea. Not just the kids from Van Vleck Drive, but anyone with an idea. Garry's plight became to talk of the bus. Everyone wrote their ideas down and signed their names underneath. Every time the thought they had run out of ideas, someone thought of another one. Bruce Decker wrote that Garryd wouldn't get in trouble riding bus 120 because the driver was such a good disciplinarian. The Van Vleck Drive kids laughed when they saw that.

Sissy wrote"

BHBL has the best teachers anywhere. Especially Mr. Sharp and Mr. Halligan. Good teachers are real important, specially if there are problems learning at home. And the woods behind the school is a really fun place to play with lots of yummy snakeberries and cool snakes.

She had heard her parents saying something about Garryd needing good teachers. And everyone knew BHBL was the best school system around. But it was important to remind people. But really, the best part was the woods. The snakes were mostly along the far edge by the cedar swamp and she hadn't yet had a chance to show them to Garryd. And the huge stand of intertwining and nearly impenetrable snakeberries was the best stand Sissy knew of. That's what made BHBL special to Sissy.

It was field day at school, a day of races and other competitions. The kids had to work all morning, but when Mrs. Waverly heard Garryd's problem, she let Sissy pass around her notebook, and the kids took turn writing down their ideas as they worked. Sissy was doing a math worksheet when she had a brilliant inspiration. She thought of one of the best ideas she had thought of yet and borrowed the notebook back from Willy Boatright who was still thinking.

She wrote:

It is very important for kids to have good friends, friends who love them and share things with them. These friends should be trustworthy, reliable, and faithful. Garryd has a good friend, many good friends, on Van Vleck Drive, and may never find any other friends as good as we are, or as faithful. Maria Mancini

Mrs. Waverly suggested that Sissy go down and start a list in Mr. Sharpe's room, so she did. When Sissy collected the ideas, she saw that a lot of them were the same. But a lot were different, too. Alvin, for example, had said that the Ozone layer in Burnt Hills was conducive to high brain functioning, whatever that meant. Alvin was the class genius, so maybe he knew something Sissy didn't. He was also the class clown, so maybe he was making something up. Mr. Sharpe had written that Garryd was a fine boy who deserved to be with his family and friends. He also wrote that next year, he would be glad to give Garryd any remedial help he needed even though he wouldn't be his teacher. Anna Louise Francher wrote that Burnt Hills had the best school system in New York State and that if Garryd were taken away, he would be deprived of the best possible education. Anna Louise's father was the Superintendent of schools, but she didn't put that down.

Walking back down the hall to her own room, Sissy added another comment:

If Garryd was taken away, I would miss him so much I would be DEVASTATED!!! I would be really sad!

Sissy added the last line in case the judge didn't know what "devastated" meant. It was a word she had learned from Mrs. Doolittle [MNS1] , who was always "devastated" when Sissy ran through her roses.

After lunch, there was nothing but competitions. Sissy had signed up for the 2.5K run, which was just over a mile and a half. Sissy was a terrible sprinter, but she was pretty good at running distances. She could keep going for along time. And she'd been getting lots of practice running back from Frog Haven.

She got off to a slow start and ran dead last for a long time, trailing the next to the last kid by a really long ways. She began to think she'd never catch up, but slowly, she did. She passed Gail Turner and Jennifer Simpson. Then she passed Ellen Langley. Then she passed a boy, Billy Martin. Then she passed a whole cluster of kids running together.

"Go, Sissy, go! You can do it, come on, run!" Sissy turned, stumbled and almost fell. Garryd, at the sideline, screamed, cheering her on. She put on a burst of speed and surged toward the front of the pack. She passed everyone but Paul LeFevre. She was catching up with him, but the finish line was just ahead. She tried to force herself to run faster, but she was already running as fast as she could.

Slowly, she pulled up beside him. They crossed the finish line nearly neck and neck, but Paul was ahead by a tiny bit.

"Photo-finish," the crowds shouted.

Sissy was gasping for breath, but she managed to say, "Paul won. He beat me."

"You ran a terrific race," Garryd said, putting an arm around her shoulder.

"Yeah, you did," Paul agreed.

Mr. Sharpe came up and congratulated them. He was holding the ribbons in his hand. Big long fluttering ribbons, a blue for Paul and a red for Sissy.

When the crowd around them dispersed, Sissy said, "Garryd, you're here, I'm so glad, now you'll get to race." Then, lowering her voice, "How is everything?"

"We don't know yet, Sissy. I can't believe you hired us a lawyer."

"I didn't do it!"

"Our new lawyer said you did. Mr. LeFevre."

"He's Paul and Guy's Dad, didn't he tell you that? I got my father [MNS2] and Lyssa got her parents to talk to him. We went around and collected money from all the neighbors, even Mrs. Doolittle.

"Thanks, Sissy!"

"You don't need to thank me," Sissy said, embarrassed. She didn't think she'd done anything special. She just wanted to help her friend.

"Of course I do!" He gave her a hug.

"When will you find out?"

"The summation is tomorrow morning so we will probably find out then."

Sissy decided the lists the kids made of reasons to keep the family together better get to Claude LeFevre as soon as possible. Maybe Paul could take it to his dad.

They were announcing the hurdles. Paul and Garryd were both in the hurdles. They ran neck and neck the entire way and tied for first. Sissy hugged them both. Paul turned scarlet, especially when Marc hissed, "K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" at them as he ran by with a silly smile on his face.

The sack races were next. Sissy went out ahead, but she fell and everyone passed her. She finished last. Lyssa was her partner in the three-legged race. They tripped a couple times but then got a good rhythm of moving the untied legs together and then the tied ones and began to move forward through the pack. They finished third and both got green ribbons.

Lyssa and Sissy were partners again for the balloon toss. The boys just shot their water balloons at each other for the fun of it and got all wet, but Sissy and Lyssa tossed very gently and caught even more carefully. More and more kids were eliminated until just Lannie McKeever and David Fontenella and Sissy and Lyssa were left. Both balloons broke on the next toss, drenching Sissy and David. They all laughed and were tied for first. Sissy was glad. She wanted a blue ribbon for the bulletin board in her bedroom. Mr. Sharpe gave her a hug when he handed her the ribbon, even though she was all wet.

Sissy ran to watch Garryd, Marc, and Paul compete with other kids in the high jump. Marc, Paul and Garryd took third, fourth and fifth place, which was sort of amazing since Paul and Garryd were the two smallest kids competing. Two fifth- graders took first and second.

Michael, Guy and Paul were competing in the standing broad jump and Sissy went to watch. Michael took third. Then she watched Marc and Michael take first and second in the running broad jump. Guy took first place in stilt walking, which he'd perfected for the Van Vleck Drive Community Circus last summer. Then she, Lyssa, Lannie, Margo, and Bellamy took first place in the relay egg roll and 4th in the relay balloon toss. By the time the afternoon was over, They all had several ribbons and felt great.

[MNS1]Another mention of Mrs. Doolittle, whose intro was cut.

[MNS2]Sissy's mother should have gone, too, or had a reason not to—announced her tests just HAD to be graded

Chapter 20, P365-07W

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