Maggie de Vries
Somebody's Girl - Juvenile Literature by Maggie de Vries

Somebody's Girl Excerpt

Chance stood perfectly still and looked at her. She waited for him to kick her in the shin or something. She could tell by his tight jaw and the way he wouldn’t meet her eyes that he wanted to. "Fine," he said at last. "Tell me the first question."

He got interested in the center pretty soon, especially in Fin, the man who swam down the whole Fraser River, rapids and all, not once, but twice. Martha resisted getting interested herself. Instead, she just trailed after him, collecting the research. Whenever they found themselves near the other girls, she pretended that she didn’t care. When it was time for the break, she grabbed her juice and a couple of cookies and slipped away toward the big glass doors. Chance had gone straight for Ken, and they were sitting with that busybody, Doug, so he wasn’t going to bother her. Martha tore open her packet of cookies and found herself gazing outside at the wooden promenade. Beyond that was the river. She glanced over her shoulder. Not one person from her group was watching her. She took a bite of cookie, and leaned into the door, pushing it open.

It was cold outside, and she wasn’t wearing her coat, so she almost turned right around and went back in. It seemed a shame not to step up to the railing, though, and look down at the river. She gripped the cold metal with her free hand, breathing the oily fishy smell, and gazed at the water. Shimmery red-and-blue patches explained the oily part of the smell. To her right a pier stretched out into the river, with a couple of big boats tied up to it; down a ways she saw a real paddle wheeler. Beyond the pier, a tugboat strained to tow a log boom upstream.

A scratchy sound pulled her attention back to the pier. She looked to her left and jumped. A crow was sidling along the railing toward her, its beady black eye intent on her remaining cookie.

Martha had never been that close to a crow--or any bird, for that matter. She stared right into its black eye, and the crow stared back, moving its scaly feet every now and again, as if to remind her of the food she held. At last, Martha released the railing, tore her eye off the creature, and broke her cookie into pieces. Turning, she dropped one bit, a quarter maybe, onto the wood near her feet. The crow spread its wings and, somewhat awkwardly, fell upon the scrap of food. Martha watched, delighted, for the seconds it took for the bit of cookie to disappear into the crow. Then she looked up and took a step back.

Several crows and even more seagulls were bearing down upon her.

Unease overtook wonder, and she retreated toward the building, scattering the rest of the cookie as far from her as she could. Well out of the way, she watched the birds battle over the crumbs, screeching and cawing and pecking.
A voice at her shoulder made her jump again.

"Ah. You fed them, didn’t you?" Doug said.

She looked up at him. "There was only one crow, and I gave him just a bit," she said. She was mad at Doug, she reminded herself. But then, she had no one else to tell.
The birds were leaving now; they had finished the food and could see that Martha’s hands were empty except for a juice box.

"Food brings them out in droves," he said. "Try eating fish and chips at the beach!"

Martha shrugged. She knew better than to eat fish and chips at the beach. Too much sand and dirt, her mother said.

 She turned back to watch the crows—who had been scrabbling at her feet a moment ago—flying together over the river.

"They stick together," she said. "The crows."

top ^

© Maggie de Vries All rights reserved