Robie is an experienced traveler. She's taken the flight from Honolulu to the Midway Atoll, a group of Pacific islands where her parents live, many times. When she has to get to Midway in a hurry after a visit with her aunt in Hawaii, she gets on the next cargo flight at the last minute. She knows the pilot, but on this flight, there's a new co-pilot named Max. All systems are go until a storm hits during the flight. The only passenger, Robie doesn't panic until the engine suddenly cuts out and Max shouts at her to put on a life jacket. They are over miles of Pacific Ocean. She sees Max struggle with a raft.
And then . . . she's in the water. Fighting for her life. Max pulls her onto the raft, and that's when the real terror begins. They have no water. Their only food is a bag of Skittles. There are sharks. There is an island. But there's no sign of help on the way.
The dude with the lime-green Mohawk and dark wooden plugs in his earlobes looked down at me, the long silver needle in his rubber-gloved hand pointed directly at my face.
“Wait.” I swallowed and gripped the arms of my chair.
Jutting out one hip, he rolled his eyes. “Do you want your nose pierced or not?”
“Yes, just … can you tell me something worse?” I pointed at the needle. “Something that is worse than that?”
He probably thought my request was insane, but that was how I coped with unpleasant things. Once I found out something worse, then it was easier to deal with. Whether it was a filling at the dentist or an end-of-term physics test, finding out things that were worse helped me deal with new challenges.
Green Mohawk Dude seemed to think about it as he looked around. A blond pregnant woman in tall suede boots and a fuchsia halter dress browsed through the gold hoops. With one gloved finger, he pointed at her. “Childbirth. Fairly certain that hurts worse.”
“I’m fifteen.” My turn to eye roll. “Something a little more relative? Not so obviously inappropriate?” I got ready to leave.
He pointed down at his black flip-flops. “See my big toes?”
My glance went downward and I flinched. His toes were big and callousy with yellowish nails. Easily the ugliest toes I’d ever seen.
Green Mohawk Dude said, “Last year I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Coming down, my toes got smashed into the front of my boots. Ended up losing both my big toenails. Took them eleven months to grow back.”
I asked, “And that hurt worse than getting your nose pierced?”
“Guess so.” He shrugged. “Now, can we do this?”
Nodding, I closed my eyes as he shoved the needle through my skin.
A rush of stinging flooded up my nose. “Holy crap!” My eyes watered so bad I had to blink like crazy, then I finally gave up and kept them shut for a while. When I did open them again, first I glared at the green-haired liar standing in front of me, then looked in the mirror to check out the diamond adorning my nose. “Sweet.” “No swimming in pools for a month. Even though they’re chlorinated, they could have germs. And lakes, rivers … avoid those. The ocean too. Just to be safe. You don’t want to get it infected.” He handed me a plastic baggie with alcohol swabs and Xeroxed instructions. “So now you can go back to the mainland with the new look you got in Honolulu.”
“Um, yeah,” I said, suddenly wondering just how much trouble I would be in when my parents saw my nose. “Actually, I don’t live on the mainland. I live the other direction, out on Midway Island.”
“Midway as in the Battle of Midway?”
His eyebrows went up and he nodded. “Very cool. You’re lucky.”
If I had a dollar for every time someone called me that, I’d be rich, because that’s all I heard when I told people about my life.
When I told them that I lived on a coral atoll in the middle of the Pacific: Lucky.
When I told them that I didn’t go to a real school: Lucky.
When I told them that I hung out among dolphins and monk seals and nesting albatross: Lucky.
For three years, my parents had been research biologists on historic Midway, now a national wildlife refuge, so I lived there too, in the old admiral’s home called Midway House. Sure, there were cool things like having my own golf cart and making my own hours for home school and getting to hang out with National Geographic photographers. Plus the fact I knew more about ocean fish and seabirds than most postgraduate researchers. Those things did make me feel lucky.
But then there were other things that did not make me feel so lucky.
Like having the Internet crap out for days at a time, and not even owning a cell phone because there was no reception, and getting only three television channels, one of which was CNN, none of which were MTV. What’s the point of even having television?
Not to mention being the only kid among fifty or so adults, which left me no one to talk to except for Facebook friends, and that was only when the Internet worked.
Lately it seemed there were a lot more days when my life felt less like luck and way more like suck.
I paid Green Mohawk Dude, tipped him a little, and then headed back for AJ’s apartment.
What saved me from going crazy most of the time was Dad’s sister, my aunt Jillian, who lived in Honolulu. AJ, as I called her, had a place right on Waikiki Beach and was a consultant, which meant she got to do all her work from home. She was way younger than Dad, only about thirty, and when I couldn’t take the isolation anymore, my parents would throw me on the supply flight returning to Honolulu from Midway and send me to her. And that’s where I had been spending the month of June.
When I walked in, AJ was on the phone. Her long brown hair was up in a clip and she had a plumeria-laden cover-up on over her red bikini. AJ’s eyes widened when she saw my nose, then she gave me a thumbs-up. As soon as she hung up, she came over and grabbed my chin, eyeing my new piercing. “Let me see this diamond I paid for.” She grinned. “Your parents are never going to let you come here again.”
I tossed my green crocheted purse on the table. “I’m getting my suit on."
|Number of Pages||231|
|Book Dimensions||8.25 x 5.5 in.|
|Shipping Weight||.50 lbs|