Photo by Kyle Thompson
A novel by Ksenia Anske, Draft 2
Chapter 1. The First Corner
It was a dangerous business, turning corners, especially corners with numbers. In exactly twelve minutes Bells would find a paper corner sticking out of the dirt by the old duck pond. In another minute she’d see number sixty-eight printed on it, lift it and get sucked into a book, together with her unsuspecting friends Peacock, Grand, and Rusty. The only things left behind them would be their four bikes, a gum wrapper, and a couple backpacks.
None of them knew this was about to happen. In fact, they hadn’t the slightest idea.
They were headed for their favorite school skipping spot, the aforementioned duck pond that was occupied by a dozen insolent ducks. At the first sighting of anyone coming in their direction the ducks would waddle up and demand bread without a trace of shame. Perhaps this was the reason why not so many people ventured to this end of the park, which suited Bells and her friends splendidly. It was far enough from prying eyes yet close enough to quickly make it back in case of an emergency. An emergency in this case constituted a stray adult spotting four eleven-year-old children idling about on the bench by the pond in the middle of a perfectly sunny spring day. Said adult usually disrupted their peace by asking annoying questions like, “What you are doing here, children?” and, “Aren’t you supposed to be in school at this hour?” and, “Where are your parents?”
Bells knitted her brows into a severe frown and pumped bike pedals with such ferocity, it swung from side to side. Only an hour ago Ms. Carbuncle, their science teacher, called her a “lousy scientist” in front of the entire class. She spat those words from her poisonous face like a pair of slugs and gave Bells a scolding for not completing her homework. Little did Ms. Carbuncle know that, number one, Bells’ little sister Maria used her homework for a drawing of a princess, and, number two, Bells’ life dream was to become a scientist—an ornithologist, to be precise—and anyone who called her “lousy” automatically landed on an enemy list.
“I will kill her.” Muttered Bells, not sure herself if she meant Ms. Carbuncle, or Maria, or both. “Let me through!” She yelled at Peacock.
“What?” He turned his head. It was hard to hear against the rush of air.
“Get out of my way.” She sped past him, kicking up dust, her dark ponytail whipping in the wind.
“Gee, Bells, you don’t need to yell.” Peacock steered his bike to side of the road, shaking his head, which bore a rather startlingly bright turquoise fauxhawk. Last week it was magenta. And the week before that it had stripes of bleached blonde intermixed with orange. Peacock couldn’t quite decide what color made him more noticeable, as he was largely forgotten by his dads due to a newly adopted baby sister.
“Yell what?” Came from Rusty. He grinned, exposing the wide gap between his front teeth. “Who is yelling?” Rusty always said the wrong things. His words didn’t quite connect with his thoughts that liked to hike ahead. On top of it, he lisped, and some words came out crooked.
“Never mind.” Said Peacock.
“Girls.” Rusty scoffed, putting in all kinds of feelings into this one word that meant something like, “I’ll never understand them and I’m not sure it’s a good idea to try and I hope I said the right thing.”
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