Read It's a Green Thing Online

Authors: Melody Carlson

It's a Green Thing

Praise for
It's a Green Thing

“Maya is a fun character! It's not even possible to read
It's a Green Thing
and not relate to her questions, her challenges, and her struggles as a teen and Christian.
And
I found myself jotting down her awesome eco-friendly tips!”

—J
ENNY
B. J
ONES
, award-winning author of
In Between
and the Charmed Life series

Praise for
A Not-So-Simple Life

“As Maya Stark pours her heart out in her journal, readers are treated to an inside view of a life that is at times exotic and unfamiliar and at other times hauntingly similar to our own. Maya's struggles become our struggles, her pain our pain, and her successes, therefore, even sweeter.
A Not-So-Simple Life
is another triumph for Melody Carlson.”

—V
IRGINIA
S
MITH
, author of
Sincerely, Mayla
and
Stuck in the Middle

“Fantastic book! Maya is so easy to like—this is a hard story to put down!”

—E
RYNN
M
ANGUM
, author of
Miss Match

“Melody Carlson has proven her skill once again at writing gritty stories about characters in difficult situations. In
A Not-So-Simple Life
, Maya Stark seeks to escape life under the controlling hand of her drug-addicted mother by acting on a plan for independence with admirable determination.”

—M
ICHELLE
B
UCKMAN
, author of
Maggie Come Lately
and
My Beautiful Disaster

“I just finished Melody's book and loved it! The journal format makes the story, and Maya, so real and believable. Readers will easily be able to identify with the realistic approach to a prevalent situation.”

—P
ATRICIA
R
USHFORD
, author of the Max & Me Mysteries

Books by Melody Carlson:

Piercing Proverbs
Dear Mom

DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL SERIES

Maya Stark:

A Not-So-Simple Life

Caitlin O'Conner:

Becoming Me

It's My Life

Who I Am

On My Own

I Do!

Chloe Miller:

My Name Is Chloe

Sold Out

Road Trip

Face the Music

Kim Peterson:

Just Ask

Meant to Be

Falling Up

That Was Then…

THE SECRET LIFE OF SAMANTHA MCGREGOR SERIES

Bad Connection

Beyond Reach

Playing with Fire

Payback

NOTES FROM A SPINNING PLANET SERIES

Ireland

Papua New Guinea

Mexico

June 9

M
y cousin Kim gave me a new diary yesterday. She received it for graduation, but she prefers to journal on her computer. “With a security lock, of course,” she confessed. Anyway, this nicely bound book (a green product made of recycled materials) seems to be enticing me to write. Especially since I already filled up my old diary, which is safely hidden away in one of my suitcases tucked into the back of the guest room closet. Okay, as both Kim and my uncle keep telling me, “It's
not
the guest room, Maya. It's
your
room.” I'm trying to see it that way. But it's not easy. So much about my life is not easy…but I must admit that it's getting better. And I do have hope.

Anyway, since today was rather interesting and the beginning of summer vacation, I will start here. Although to get “here,” I need to go back to before the school year ended. I'd been attending Harrison High for several weeks when Mr. Fenton challenged our art class to volunteer for a community project. We'd been invited by the park district to create a mural on a downtown youth center. A lot of kids signed up, and everyone seemed supportive and
interested. But today, the first day of the project, Marissa Phillips and I were the only ones to actually show.

“It figures,” she said as the two of us stood gazing up at the big, boring wall. The paint was splotchy looking, with random beige smears that resembled a bad case of psoriasis. Probably someone's attempt to hide the graffiti and tagging, although a few offensive words still showed through.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“That no one else would come.”

“Why's that?” I adjusted the twisted strap of my OshKosh overalls. I'd gotten dressed pretty quickly this morning, barely managing to catch the downtown bus.

“Because people are basically selfish.”

I turned and looked at her. With hands planted on her hips, Marissa stared at the ugly wall and frowned. For some reason, when I first began attending Harrison High, I felt drawn to this girl. Like we shared some commonality. And I suppose we do have some physical similarities. We're both tall and have long hair, although hers is straight and mine is curly. And because she dyes it black, her hair's a lot darker than mine. I think that's why her complexion looks so pale. Whereas mine (thanks to my dad) is the color of café au lait.

But our looks aside, we are similar in other ways too. Or maybe we both just have an attitude. She's not afraid to speak her mind and has opinions that not everyone shares. She's two years older than I am. In fact, she just graduated with my cousin Kim.
Not that she seems older exactly. Or maybe I just feel older than sixteen. Sometimes I feel like I'm in my thirties. But a hard life can do that to a person.

“So if that's true,” I asked Marissa, “if people are basically selfish, why are you here?”

She laughed. “I thought you knew.”

“Knew?”

“I'm doing community service.”

“For what?”

“Oh…something that happened a couple of months ago. I guess you hadn't moved here yet.”

“What did you do?”

“I got caught with alcohol in my car.”

“Driving under the influence?” I knew Marissa was kind of a wild child, but I thought she had more sense than that.

“No.” She shook her head firmly. “I wasn't under the influence. I was underage.”

“Well, obviously.”

“It didn't really help much that my dad's a cop.” She made a face as she reached into her bag and retrieved a pack of cigarettes. She shook one out, quickly lit it, then blew out an exasperated puff.

“Your dad's a cop?” Now this caught me off guard. Of all people who might have law enforcement officials in their family, Marissa just doesn't seem to fit the profile. I can only imagine how frustrated her father must feel.

“Oh yeah…” She peered back at the wall. “In fact it was his recommendation that I spend my summer vacation performing community service. If dear old Dad hadn't been in court that day, I probably would've gotten off a lot easier.”

“You're doing community service for the whole summer?”

“Yep.” She blew another puff of smoke over her shoulder.

“And you're okay with that?”

“It was either that or give up my car and move out of the house. And I wasn't financially ready for that…not just yet.” She took in a slow drag, then looked curiously at me. “So what's your excuse?”

“Excuse?”

“For being here.”

“You mean because I must be basically selfish too?”

She shrugged.

“I just wanted to do it,” I admitted. “I mean, when Mr. Fenton described the project, it sounded kind of fun to help someone else, and he made it seem like it would only take a week.”

Marissa laughed sarcastically. “Yeah, right. Think again.”

I frowned back up at the wall. “With just the two of us, this mural could end up being your entire summer of community service.”

“I wouldn't mind so much, except that it's going to be scorching out here before long, and this wall is in the sun most of the day.” She reached in her bag again, and this time pulled out her cell phone.

“Who are you calling?”

“Friends… Hey, Spencer,” she said warmly. “What's up, dude?” Then she winked at me. “Well, Maya and I are downtown right now. We volunteered to do this mural project, and we sure could use some big, strong guys to help out.” She smiled knowingly. “Oh yeah, for sure. Maybe you could get Jake to come and help too… No, it's no big hurry. I mean, we need to kind of figure out where we're going with this mural and get the paint and stuff. Maybe not today. But how about tomorrow? First thing in the morning?” She got a catty smile now. “Oh yeah, totally.” Then she hung up.

“Help on the way?”

“Sounds like it.” She slipped her phone back into her bag. “Spencer is such a pushover when it comes to good-looking women.”

“I hope he didn't get the wrong impression.”

“We're talking about Spencer, right?” She laughed. “Of course he has the wrong impression. It's just the way that boy's brain is wired.”

And I was fully aware of this. Spencer had begun hitting on me as soon as I started going to HHS a couple of months ago. I'd been flattered at first, but as I got to know him better, I realized that I needed to draw some boundaries. Even so, I wasn't going to admit that Spencer wouldn't have been my first choice for help. “So…do you think I should call anyone else?” I offered.

“Sure. Do you know anyone else?”

I kind of shrugged. The truth is, I still don't know that many people in this town. Kim and her best friend, Natalie, already have summer jobs. But I was thinking about the kids in Kim's church youth group—particularly Dominic. Any excuse to spend time with Dominic seemed like a good excuse to me. But I didn't know his number, so I called Caitlin. She and her husband, Josh, are the youth leaders, and she's been sort of mentoring me since I committed my life to God a couple of weeks ago. She answered, and I quickly explained the mural project and our lack of volunteers.

“It was supposed to take only a week,” I said finally. “But with just Marissa and me and this great big wall, well, it's a little overwhelming. She's already called a guy to help, but—”

“What a cool project,” Caitlin said. “That building is a real eyesore. It's great that someone wants to make it nice, and I'm sure that'll be a blessing to the kids who use the center. Why don't I call around and see who might be willing to help out?”

“That'd be awesome, Caitlin.”

“When do you want your helpers to show up?”

“We have to figure some things out first. We probably won't need anyone until tomorrow morning.”

“I'll see what I can do.”

“Thanks.” I hung up and smiled hopefully.

But Marissa was frowning at me now. “Why are you calling in the church people?”

“Why not?”

“You want me to make you a list of reasons?”

“Are you willing to turn away free help?”

She dropped her cigarette butt to the pavement and ground it out with her heel as she shrugged. “I guess not. So what's the deal, Maya? Are you
one of them?”

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