Authors: Fiona Horne
Tags: #ebook, #book
First published in 2012
Copyright Â© Fiona Horne 2012
All rights reserved. No part of this book 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, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. The
Australian Copyright Act 1968
(the Act) allows a maximum of one chapter or ten per cent of this book, whichever is the greater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that the educational institution (or body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) under the Act.
Allen & Unwin
83 Alexander Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
|Phone:||(61 2) 8425 0100|
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A Cataloguing-in-Publication entry is available from the
National Library of Australia
ISBN 978 1 74237 869 5
Cover and text design by Bruno Herfst
Cover photograph by Ben Welsh/Corbis
Back cover author photograph by Christopher Ameruoso
Text dinkuses by Alissa Dinallo
Set in 12.5/16.5 pt Fournier by Midland Typsetters, Australia
Printed in Australia by McPherson's Printing Group
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Meet me in Summerland my love
Between the worlds â below and above
Walk with me on scented shores
In Summerland for ever more
A witches' heaven where one's soul comes to be reborn again.
Summerland Â 34Â°25'17"N 119Â°35'45"W
I stared into the eyes of the snake. I didn't feel fear â I was drawn to her. Like a ribbon of black lava, she lay coiled on the rock in front of me. The leaves on the trees rustled as I stretched out to touch her sleek, glossy head. She felt cool and smooth. I let my hand rest there as, slowly, I felt our pulses become one. With every beat, more of the outside world â the trees, the wind, the rocks â disappeared. Until it was just me and the snake.
And then she spoke.
âYou are one of us.'
A piece of orange hit the back of my head, hard. Pulp and juice splattered over my shoulder and dripped down onto the book in my lap.
âM-m-m-massive lips . . . Mrs Fish, Vania Thorn, Fish
,' sang Cassidy Walters, then led a rousing chorus of, â
Mrs Fish, Fish Lips
,' from the back of the Summerland High bus. All the cool kids sat in the back seat, taunting us losers spread out before them, ripe for the picking. I was third row from the front.
Although it was definitely annoying, I wasn't angry about the orange or the song â I didn't need idiots like this to like me. I was trying to ignore what they were saying, but their accents sounded harsh to me. Even though I'm American, I'd never lived in the US before, because my parents decided to move to the farthest-away place in the world â Australia â when I was born.
And now, fifteen years later, we were back here. My parents had said I would love it. Summerland was a small coastal town, just like Jervis Bay where I'd grown up, and my parents knew I loved the beach. But this beach was nothing like the beautiful white-sand cove of my Australian home. The water here on the coast of California was not blue, translucent and warm like Jervis â it was dark and green and freezing cold. The sand was not a fine white powder, smooth underfoot, like my cove â it was yellow and gritty and got stuck under my toenails. It was the same ocean, the Pacific, but here on the other side of the earth it was alien territory to me. I wasn't loving it.
As for school, it wasn't that I'd expected to fit in. I hadn't exactly been popular back in Australia. I guess you could call me a loner. I find it comforting to be anonymous. So not fitting in to a new school in a new country didn't surprise me, but the fact that my new classmates knew my name and cared enough to make up a horrible song about me did. Especially when I had only been at the school for two weeks.
Mrs Fish, Fish Lips, Mrs Fish!
' they kept screaming.
. Another piece of orange hit me. Still I did nothing.
Finally the bus driver, who was young and kind of cute, turned around. âYou guys shut up or you're all getting off this bus!' He caught my eye briefly, concerned. I guess my stoic expression reassured him, though, because after that he went back to his driving.
I turned my attention back to
The World of Chemistry
in my lap, picking bits of orange off its pages and out of my hair. Suddenly more sticky juice coursed over my head. Cassidy was standing in the aisle squeezing another large piece of orange directly over my head.
âYou suck, Mrs Fish,' she said as she grabbed the back of my head with one hand and roughly pushed the orange into my mouth with the other. Her fingernail cut into my lip and the acidic juice of the orange burned like fire. As the bus sped down a hill, Cassidy pushed me hard, laughing, then headed back down the aisle towards her back-row throne.
Fury suddenly coursed through my body like boiling lava. I didn't deserve this. I wanted to run after Cassidy and punch her. Instead I glared out the window at a giant oak tree at the bottom of Ortega Hill. I stared and stared at the enormous tree . . . and realised it was falling across the road.
In reality it must have happened very fast, but it felt like slow motion. The bus driver braked hard to avoid it. Everyone screamed.
I was still staring at the tree as the bus screeched to a stop just before hitting it. Its huge roots were torn out of the ground, reaching to the sky like a giant claw. The driver, white-faced, walked up and down the aisle, checking to see if we were okay. Cassidy had been thrown to the floor. He helped her up; blood gushed from her lip. I looked around and saw that no one else except her was hurt.
I could feel someone looking at me. Bryce, our majorly gorgeous class president, was staring at me from the back row. I turned away, but his eyes were burning a hole into the back of my head.
âVania, are you all right?' he asked about ten seconds later. He'd come to stand beside me.
I was so stunned I could barely move my mouth to reply. âUh, yeah,' I finally managed. I looked up at him through my hair.
âGood,' he said. He glanced at Cassidy, who was now sitting in the front row, and shook his head. âCassidy can be such an idiot sometimes. I guess you get what you give.'
He started off towards her and then turned and smiled at me. âYour accent sounds cool.'
I suddenly couldn't look at him a second longer. When I did dare to peer up again he was standing next to Cassidy, taking a handkerchief from his pocket. He held it gently to her mouth to help staunch the flow of blood. What an old-fashioned, gentlemanly gesture. It was kind of hot.
He addressed the bus as she moaned: âShe'll be all right, it's just a split lip.'
A volunteer emergency crew turned up. One man directed traffic, such as it existed for Summerland, to a detour. The rest of the brigade got to work clearing the tree from the road. Eventually everyone in the bus had calmed down enough that the driver decided we could get moving again and put the bus into reverse.
Just because Cassidy was so nasty didn't mean I had to be. I decided I was glad she wasn't hurt too badly. I was actually smiling as we continued on our way.
But as I walked home later my expression turned from a smile to a frown. I couldn't help thinking about what had happened with the tree . . . and how angry I had been just before it happened. It almost felt like I had caused it to come crashing down like that. But that was just not possible. Was it?
Then again, freaky stuff was always happening around me. I wasn't a loner for nothing: if you hung around me long enough something strange always happened. I didn't know why. But this was the first time anyone had ever got hurt.