Chapter 1: Saturday
(This is just the beginning scene)
Shreya McCoy gazed up from her book and stared out her bedroom window. Fifty yards off, like the wall a giant garden, stood the trees of Blanchard Forest. Just below them ran Meadow Creek, separating the McCoy property and the wilderness beyond. The now rotting wood bridge Shreya her older brother Tabor built five years ago, with the help of their father, still worked. Indeed, it worked great, as Shreya knew from her recent winter excursions into the woods. Christmas break began two days ago.
Yet Shreya was board. Her only close friend, Sara, was on vacation with her family, leaving Shreya friendless for the holiday. No one to play with. No one even to argue with. That is, except her mother. She’d prefer arguing with anyone else, even Tabor.
But Shreya’s now sixteen year old, grown up, and way too cool, brother didn’t stay home during school breaks anymore. He spent most days and nights in Riverbend, the nearest city, and a half-hour drive away. Shreya knew the drive well because every day she had to be driven there for school. Tabor plays the violin in the school orchestra, providing him with a lucky excuse to spend most weeks and weekends with his musician friends. “It’s easier than traveling back and forth for practice all the time,” he’d said. But Shreya knew the real reason. If only she had as good of an excuse she’d stay away as well.
Shreya took a deep breath and focused on her reflection in the window. She had her mother’s smooth, light brown hair tied back into a pony tail, her father’s blue almond eyes, and her grandmother’s small nose, ears, and pear-shaped face.
“Shreya!” her mother yelled, bursting into the doorway of her room, her long pink, silk pajamas dangling near her pale, slender feet. Shreya wished her mother would change already; it was almost noon on Saturday. “When are you ever going to do as you’re told!” her mother scorned. “I told you last week to clean up those branches in the yard. And you still need to finish pulling the weeds!” Her mother’s arms flailed in the air and her eyes grew wide, as if Shreya’s mutiny was the sole source of all he mother’s suffering.
“Sorry Mom, I—”
“You and your brother will be doing it first thing in the morning, and you won’t get to do anything else all Christmas break until you’ve finished.” Mary-Lynne McCoy perked up her sharp nose and narrowed her piercing green eyes at Shreya. “Is that understood?”
“Yes, Mom.” Shreya watched her mom wisp away from the doorway.