Read A Tinfoil Sky Online

Authors: Cyndi Sand-Eveland

Tags: #Young Adult

A Tinfoil Sky

Text copyright © 2012 by Cyndi Sand-Eveland

Published in Canada by Tundra Books,
75 Sherbourne Street, Toronto, Ontario M5A 2P9

Published in the United States by Tundra Books of Northern New York,
P.O. Box 1030, Plattsburgh, New York 12901

Library of Congress Control Number: 2011923469

All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the publisher – or, in case of photocopying or other reprographic copying, a licence from the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency – is an infringement of the copyright law.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Sand-Eveland, Cyndi
A tinfoil sky / by Cyndi Sand-Eveland.

eISBN: 978-1-77049-294-3

I. Title.

PS8637.A539T55 2012 JC813.′6 C2011–901450–5

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP) and that of the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Media Development Corporation’s Ontario Book Initiative. We further acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for our publishing program.

v3.1

For “Mel,” wherever you are
.

There was promise in your eyes,
and you left me wanting to write that possibility into existence
.

I hope I have done you justice
.

Contents
Acknowledgments

Many thanks Kathryn Cole, Kelly Jones, and Kathy Lowinger at Tundra Books for your editorial feedback and encouragement! I am very grateful, Kathryn, that you gave this story not only one chance, but three.

I am deeply indebted to Morty Mint, my agent, and Verna Relkoff and Sharmaine Gray, editors extraordinaire, who read, listened, and offered sage advice.

My dear friends Robyn, Heidi, Val, Anne, daughter Kohe, sisters Sharrie and Jackie, and niece Ashley read and gave feedback on early drafts. Thank you!

Thank you also to Lisa Menna, whose magic and long walks infused the early work on this story.

Philip, Celeste, Sharrie, Sandy, and Mary Ann all willingly shared their experiences and valuable insights. Thank you.

This book has taken time – lots of it – and that has meant that I have, once again, needed the support of my family, Todd, Kohe, and Mclain.

A promise of more time to walk by the river I owe to Patches, our beloved family dog. He, more than anyone, has listened to this story unfold, and his sweet desire to be with me on this journey, whatever the hour I wrote, never wavered.

Ann McDonnell’s students at Trafalgar Middle School read my first effort. The afternoon we spent with all of you passionately sharing your opinions, insights, hopes, and dreams for Mel, kept me rewriting. This book is also dedicated to you.

Lastly, but most importantly, I want to thank you, the reader. A story and its characters are nothing more than simple keystrokes inked to a page. It is the reader who breathes life into the characters, allowing them to truly live.

Cyndi

1
Starting Over

“Girl,” Cecily said as they sped away from the curb, “we’re going home!”

Mel turned and stared at Cecily, not quite believing the word had slipped so easily from her mother’s lips.

And the way that Cecily said the word
home
left Mel wondering. Cecily said it like she meant that place you can always go back to, “that” kind of home. Mel knew Cecily wasn’t referring to the last place they’d lived. She always called that place The Dive.

And so Mel repeated the word out loud. “Home?”

“I’ve been thinking it just might be the right time to go back home to Gladys’s in Riverview,” Cecily said.

Mel sat in a mixture of shock and silence. It was the eleventh time they’d moved in four years. But this time they weren’t being evicted, or finding a new place with cheaper rent, or moving in with a friend of Cecily’s. This time they weren’t just leaving with nowhere to go. They were going to her grandmother’s.

Mel didn’t remember what Gladys’s place looked like, or, for that matter, what Gladys or Tux, her grandfather, looked like. The last time Cecily and Gladys had spoken, Mel was four. She only knew that Tux had died. That was almost nine years ago, and, for as long as Mel could remember, Cecily had refused to tell Mel much about anything that related to her grandparents, the city of Riverview, or the first three years of Mel’s life.

As Mel stared out the car window into the dark, vacant streets, she thought about the events of the last hour. She’d woken to Cecily and Craig arguing again. Only this time, it seemed louder and seemed to go on longer than usual. Then the front door slammed – hard. The yelling continued in the street until finally she heard Craig tear out of the driveway on his motorcycle. Cecily had raced back into the house and stormed into Mel’s room. Mel had sat straight up in bed. Cecily had grabbed an armload of Mel’s clothes from the floor and piled her blanket and pillow on top of Mel’s lap, and then she ordered Mel to go and get in the Pinto station wagon.

As Mel stood in the doorway leading into the living room, she looked at the clock that sat on the floor next to the TV. It was 3:39 a.m. She watched as Cecily raced around in a frenzy, gathering her things and stuffing them into a black plastic garbage bag. Mel kept glancing at the front
door while Cecily rummaged through Craig’s jacket, digging out a pack of cigarettes and some loose change. Then she went into the kitchen and grabbed what was left of a loaf of bread and a jar with the last little bit of peanut butter.

It wasn’t until Cecily was trudging out the front door herself, one hand dragging the bag, the other carrying her guitar case, her handbag clenched between her teeth, that she noticed Mel.

Letting her handbag fall to the floor, Cecily yelled, “I told you to get in the car! Now!”

Mel ran. And, as she ran, she had to keep gathering up the unruly heap of clothes, blanket, and pillow that seemed determined to fall from her grasp.

She was glad to be leaving Craig’s place. They’d only been living with him for two months, but it was the worst two months Mel could remember.

They hadn’t driven more than ten blocks and were just pulling onto the highway when Mel realized that her journal and small collection of books were still in her room.

“We need to go back!” Mel shouted.

Cecily gave Mel a quick look as she merged the Pinto into traffic. “Can’t do that, kiddo,” she said.

“No, you don’t understand. My books and my …”

“Listen, Mel,” Cecily said without taking her eyes off
the road. “We can’t. Craig is probably back at the house by now.”

Both the book set and the journal had been a gift from Cecily for Mel’s twelfth birthday. It was one of the few times Cecily had been able to afford to get Mel the gift that she had wanted. It had felt too good to be true. In the weeks since her birthday, she’d read all of the books except one,
The Last Battle
, the final book in the series. She’d been saving it.

What Mel also knew was that with the pillow and blanket now off of her bed, anyone walking into the room would see the outline of her journal under the sheet that covered the mattress. What Cecily didn’t know was that the journal had become a place for Mel to express things she couldn’t say to anyone else.

“I’m doing this for you, Mel,” Cecily said, interrupting Mel’s thoughts.

Mel turned around and leaned over the front seat to pull her blanket and pillow out of the heap of clothes that were strewn across the back.

Cecily found a song she liked on the radio, and began belting out the words as though she was singing live for a thousand people.

The thought of Craig finding her journal left Mel feeling weak.

2
Dreaming

Cecily continued to drive through the night with the hope of reaching Riverview by the next afternoon. Mel tried to sleep, but much of the drive was spent in and out of a series of nightmarish dreams.

In the first dream, Craig ripped her bedroom apart. He’d found her journal. He was reading aloud the words she’d written. “I hate him. I hate everything about him.”

Then he saw her standing in the doorway. He sneered.

Mel tried to run. Her feet stuck to the floor. She tried to scream – nothing.

She woke up to find herself in the car, with Cecily’s hand stroking her hair. She cuddled up to Cecily, who instinctively put one arm around her as she continued to drive.

Mel quickly fell back to sleep, maybe for a minute or maybe an hour, but Craig was back again. This time he was ripping out the page about the police, about Mel’s plan to call the police and tell them that Craig was
dealing drugs. As Craig ripped the pages, Mel’s dream took a turn. It left the scene of Craig and Mel, and it turned to Cecily, Craig, and the police.

The police had Cecily.

Mel was pleading with the them to let her go, but the police weren’t listening. They were leaving. Cecily was in the car. Craig wouldn’t let Mel run after her.

And it had felt so real – too real. When she woke up this time, the car was stopped on the side of the road. Cecily was holding her.

“Do you want to talk about your dream?” Cecily asked.

“No. But do you think Craig will come looking for his car?”

“This car is half mine,” Cecily said as she looked back over her shoulder. “So don’t worry. And I’ve already put three hours between him and us.”

Cecily pulled the car a little farther off the highway and made space in the back for the two of them. With Cecily close, Mel felt safe, and the nightmarish dreams felt far away. She couldn’t help but hope that this time things were really going to work out. They both slept until morning, when the sun made the car too hot for sleeping.

3
A Trick to Remember

It seemed to take forever to reach Riverview. And the expectation of seeing Gladys, who Mel hadn’t seen in almost a decade and couldn’t remember, left her feeling anxious. The rate at which Cecily was finishing one menthol cigarette and then lighting another increased until she was chain smoking, lighting the next cigarette from the last one before she butted it out.

Mel read the sign out loud as they crossed the city limits. “Welcome to Riverview, Home of the Wildcats. Population: Forty-five thousand five hundred.”

“Here goes nothing,” Cecily said.

“Gladys knows we’re coming, right?” Mel asked.

“Uh, well, not exactly. I was going to call once we were on the road, but, well … there’s no point calling now.”

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