In efforts to avoid working on the much-needed editing of my other WIP, I have been getting lots of “NaNo-ing” done. I passed the 30,000-word mark today and am getting to the “good” parts of the novel. Things are moving faster, emotions higher, much more at stake…
I realize I haven’t posted much about this book, so here is an excerpt for you!
So Far From Home: PROLOGUE – 1931
Twelve-year-old Madeline Barker pushed through the brush of the apple orchard and ran as fast as her legs would carry her. Her heart raced, not from the sprint, but at the news she’d received.
This isn’t fair.
She reached Apple Creek and came to a stop. Her pursuers came up behind her, both panting.
“What’s going on?” one of the boys asked.
Madeline crossed her arms and swung around, glaring at her brother. “Did Mama and Papa discuss any of this with you?”
Patrick blinked and shook his head. “What are you talking about?”
Madeline shot a glance at the neighbor boy and her dear friend, Ethan. “Did you?”
Ethan’s dusty blond hair had remnants of apple tree leaves. He lifted both hands and spoke between breaths. “No. What’s going on?”
She stomped and cried out. This couldn’t be happening. There was a way out of this. There must be. But then, that is what she thought a few weeks ago when Mama first brought it up. It had to be a joke, she’d thought.
Madeline sank to a large boulder and bit her lip. She wanted to cry, but there were no tears. Only rage.
The boys shifted nervously behind her.
“Is this about the tractor?” Ethan asked.
“I told you we shouldn’t have done that,” Patrick hissed.
Ethan slugged Patrick in the shoulder. “You dared me.”
Actually, Madeline had dared Ethan. She tossed a glare over her shoulder. Stupid tractor. The little stunt certainly didn’t help. They hadn’t intended to get Mr. Daily’s old farm tractor stuck in the swamp. He shouldn’t have left the keys in it.
“No, it’s not about the tractor.”
Ethan walked around and sat on a boulder beside her. He leaned his elbows on his knees and met her gaze. “Tell us.”
She clenched her fists. “They’re sending me away.”
Patrick stepped closer, nearly slipping as rocks shifted under his feet. “What? Where?”
“Mama and Papa enrolled me in some boarding school in New York. Said I need real discipline and manners.”
Her eyes fell to her lap, but she sensed the look exchanged between the two boys. For a long time, the rustle of the flowing creek was all that stirred.
Finally, Ethan nudged her with his elbow to her arm. “You could use some manners,” he said.
She shot him the most pointed glare she could muster. His smile fell instantly and he looked away.
“How long will you be gone?” Patrick asked.
“Through the twelfth grade.” She let them do the math. Six years. And since she was going all the way from Idaho to New York, she doubted she’d be allowed many trips home. She stood and grabbed a small rock and tossed it into the stream. It made a seemingly inconsequential plunk into the water. Just like her opposition. Mama and Papa would not be swayed.
“I will go talk with them, little sis.” Patrick grabbed her arm and turned her to face him. His forehead furrowed and mouth turned downward. “I’ll make them change their mind. You’ll see.”
He strode off, full of determination and purpose. Ethan just sat on the rock, his gaze downcast.
“He won’t change their minds,” she said.
Ethan nodded. “I know. But he doesn’t know that.”
“This isn’t fair.”
“We knew this day would come, Madeline. Your mom has talked about that boarding school ever since you were born.” He stood.
She lifted her chin and put her hands on her hips. “I just won’t go. Can they really force me?”
“Yes. And they will.”
Her heart sank. Why didn’t he believe in her? He was always telling her she couldn’t do this, couldn’t do that.
“Look at the bright side,” Ethan began, forcing a half-smile. “You get to travel all the way to New York. And you’ll come back eventually.”
She nodded. “I will. I will come back the moment I am free of that place.”
Ethan’s smile disappeared. “I’m going to miss you.”
“I’ll write to you every day. You and Patrick.”
He nodded and glanced in the direction of the house, back through the acres of orchard and hay fields. “You promise you won’t forget about us?”
She held up her hand as if swearing an oath. “Promise. Do you promise not to forget about me?”
His lips twitched. “I couldn’t if I tried.”
“And you’ll take care of my horse?”
Her stomach still hurt at the thought of leaving. What would she do for fun? Who would she talk to? Ethan had always been there. Now what? “I will miss you too,” she whispered, lowering her gaze.
He lifted her chin with his hand. “I will be here, the moment you return. I promise.”