Butterflies. Little, fluttering butterflies. That's what fifteen-year-old Willow Flynn feels in the pit of her stomach whenever the mysterious boy is near.
Willow has other things to contend with as she deals with the tragic loss of her father, her preoccupied mother, all while being uprooted to a new house, a new school, a new life, far away, on an island, in the middle of nowhere.
At the beginning of the school year, the sickly, but cute Michael sends Willow the first of many cryptic notes. He stares at Willow and gives her the creeps. Michael never returns to school after that, but Willow ends up connecting with the poetic boy on-line.
As Willow attempts to fit in and find her niche in the ever-cliquey high school world, she is further confused by Michael who strives to win her over and mend her broken heart. But, will he be able to, especially when his own existence remains so uncertain?
My iPod blared through my room and woke me instantly. My eyes snapped open, but I quickly knew there was a problem. Half of my body was still asleep. I rolled onto my back and realized that my whole left side was completely numb. In a matter of seconds, the numbness went away and was replaced by the feeling of thousands of tiny pins and needles jabbing me.
I had to get up before the music traveled through my paper-thin walls and woke my brother. I jumped out of bed, forgetting about the shooting pain in my left hand, arm and leg. I stumbled as I reached my dresser, but managed to switch off my iHome before collapsing onto the floor.
I sprawled on my back, on top of my white shag area rug. I moved my arms up and down making fake snow angels like I did when I was a kid, hoping to rid myself of the pain that consumed more than just my left side.
If I could have, I would have stayed on my floor for the rest of the day, for the rest of my life. I knew I’d never hear the end of it if I ran behind and missed the ferryboat to school. My mother would scream from one end of the house all the way to the other, as she swept up cat hair and hurried my brother and me along.
As I moved my limbs up and down I thought about how wonderful it would be if I could travel back in time to when I was little again, to a time when I was truly happy. Back then, my realities were Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and my only worry was how these mystical bearers of gifts would enter my house, undetected, and not set off our alarm system.
Even though the numbness was fading from the outside of my body, I couldn’t help but sense as though it was taking over the inside of me. I wanted to feel again. I wanted my old life back, my old school, my old friends and my old mom.
Then I heard it, the unmistakable footsteps as they climbed the hardwood stairs and traveled across the hallway floor, reverberating toward my room at the very end.
I jumped up and quickly locked my door before anyone could open it.
The knocking came anyway.
“Getting dressed,” I yelled. “Be right down.”
I threw off my pj’s, grabbed a T-shirt and pair of jeans and headed toward the bathroom where I would attempt to get ready for another useless and sucky day.
• • •
I almost missed the 7:00 A.M. ferry that was to take me across Casco Bay from my new home on Pike’s Island to the Maine State Pier in Portland’s Old Port section. Unlike the elementary school, which was located on the island, the junior high and high schools were located three miles across the bay, on what the locals referred to as the “mainland.” Portland had two high schools, which made the student body of my sophomore class a manageable size of about two hundred kids.
Everyday, the other year-round students and I would take the Casco ferryboat to and from school, even in the cold, dead of winter. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like crossing the small inlet of ocean in the middle of January, even if it were only going to be for twenty minutes. There was a closed cabin and heaters inside, but I was chilled to the bone most days and it was still only the middle of September.
Once there, the other kids and I would board the dull, yellow school bus that would take us on a mile-long drive and drop us in front of the cold, concrete steps that led to the large and looming front entrance of Portland High.
Everyday after I got dropped off at the dock, my mother would head back and bring my brother, James, to his elementary school, which was a block away from our house on the island.
And just as I had suspected, my mother ranted and raved about how late the two of us had been that morning.
“Hurry up and get in the car!” she yelled. “You’ll both have to eat dry cereal again today.”
My mom grabbed her car keys, while James and I grabbed our backpacks and headed out the door. We were lucky that she was even awake and able to drive us at all.