It’s great to hear from you! How have you been? You mom and Leah say hi. It’s kind of annoying that your aunt’s house doesn’t have a computer, so we have to snail mail each other.
I know you want to keep a low profile, but
We all miss you a lot Cambelle. My dad says you should come back. And mom wants to send you cookies. (She still thinks you're too thin).
I took your sister to the zoo yesterday. No wonder you nicknamed her Panda! She loves those bears.
Victor Terrah also emailed me. He wants to get a hold of you so you two can spar again. I could be wrong, but I think he's still sore from losing your last match.
Also, Puzzle is pining. He is curled up into a ball and only moving to eat and use the litter box. Leah says he misses you, but since none of us can understand him, we can't get him to move.
Lillian also says hello. She says when you come back she's going to take you on a shopping trip and to the movies. And she said she owes you some sort of explanation?
And President Poison is still trying to get a hold of you. He says it's important, but he won't tell me
My dad got a job as a banker. A banker! It must be a pretty boring job compared to his last one, but he says he likes it better. He doesn't need to get a job, because Poison has given him a government pension, but he says he wants to do something. Mom was part of a bake-sale a couple of weeks ago, and she now has a lot of fans of her cooking, including Lillian and Scaffold.
Oh, Willow sends her regards. She says she's going to be in Georgia in a few weeks and she wants to stop by and see how you're doing.
Mirror, Dart, Dirt, Sun, Pass, and Briar all say hi and ask that you come back to visit them soon.
I agree, you should come back. It's not the same without you. I mean, it's less dangerous for us, but without you we all kind of fall apart and don't know what to do. Did you know you're kinda our leader? Mirror said to tell you she and Dirt are going to Princeton in next year for a writing course. Dirt and Pass are still dating. Briar and Dart are starting to date as well. Who would've thought?
Let me know what's going on with you. How's your aunt? Have you gotten any word on your father yet? Do you fit in at your school? Anyone interesting there?
Write me soon,
I smiled at the letter and laid it aside. Ah Larry. I miss you too. Larry Proson is my best friend in Maryland. He helped me uproot the previous president, Philip McScarlet, who took over and made America hurt.
Mirror, Dart, Dirt, Sun, Pass and Briar are all my friends from the group called Freedom's Flame. They were supportive of me while I went through McScarlet's persecution.
And Puzzle, my cat. I would've taken him with me, but he doesn't like to travel.
I heard my aunt Cherry drop something in the kitchen. "Any good news from Maryland?" she called.
"Mostly the same," I said. "I think I should go back. It seems like everyone is lost without me."
Cheryl Blake peered around the wall into my bedroom and smiled. She had vibrantly red hair, like my bronze-ish hair, so we were often mistaken for relatives. In truth, she was my adopted mother Paige Blake's sister, so she wasn't actually related to me at all. She got the nickname Cherry because of her red hair and her awesome home-made cherry pies.
"If you want to go back I can get you a plane," she said.
"I think I will. I'll just wait until Christmas break first," I said.
"If you wait until then, I'll go with you. I would like to see Paige again, and Christmas is the prefect time."
"Sure," I said. Cherry disappeared and I picked up a piece of paper and grabbed a pen.
I'm great. Cherry is great, still writing that novel of hers. I haven't found anything on my dad yet, but in truth I really haven't been looking. I don't know if I even want to see him. Does he know I exist? And if he does, does he care about me? I mean, my mom was a prostitute. What kind of man is he?
No, I don't fit in at my school. But thankfully all the people know who I am and I’m not being messed with. I’m being avoided instead.
Anyway, I’ve decided that you’re right. I’m coming back for a visit. I’d tell you more about what’s happened lately, but since I’ll be seeing you soon, it won’t matter.
See you soon,
A month later found me at the airport. Turns out I couldn’t wait until Christmas vacation, so I just packed a backpack and told Cherry where I was going.
While waiting for my flight, someone behind me said, “Flying economy class Blake?”
I jumped and glanced behind me. It was my old friend Willow. She’d been part of the secret underground organization known as Freedom’s Flame. Actually, she’d been the leader. And she was the one who gave me the benefit of the doubt when I said I wanted to join them.
“Willow! Hi. What are you doing here?”
“Just coming in to check something out,” she said with a smile.
“Does Poison still have you checking loyalties?” I asked.
“No,” said Willow. “This one is personal. Also, I have something from your mother.” She dug through her bag and produced an envelope.
“Why didn’t she just wait until I got there? I was supposed to leave next month to visit them. Can’t it wait that long?”
Willow shifted position, and it struck me she was acting weird.
“Well, Cambelle, you see, it’s not from your mother.”
“You just said it’s from my mom!”
She shifted again and I realized she looked uncomfortable.
“Willow, what’s going on?” I asked.
“It’s your real mother,” said Willow slowly. “She wants you back.”
I swallowed to keep my temper in check. “She what?”
“She wants you back,” said Willow. She’d stopped shifting position, and I realized she was braced for my temper attack. For her sake I would try not to lose it.
“Why would she want me back?” I asked through my teeth.
Willow shrugged. “She said she made a mistake giving you up. She says she loves you and is really proud of you.”
“Oh yeah right,” I muttered. “What have I done to be proud--?” I froze. “Oh great.”
“She’s always wanted to be famous, and now she has the chance. Oh man I should’ve seen this coming! If it gets known that her daughter is the one who saved both the president and America she’ll become one of the most famous people in America! Ugh!”
“Yeah, well, that’s not all,” said Willow. “She’s taking it to court. She wants custody of you back from Paige. She’s hired a slew of lawyers that are telling us that unless we give in they’re going to sue Paige out of house and home.”
“Oh no,” I said.
“That’s what I’m doing here,” said Willow. “I know a guy, who knows a guy that knows a great lawyer. We’ll win the lawsuit. Don’t you worry.”
“But what if we don’t?” I said. I sighed. “Maybe it would be better if I just leave.”
“Cambelle, what are you saying? You’re a fighter! You’ve been a fighter for as long as I’ve known you. Why would you give up now because some person you don’t want to live with wants you back? That’s not like you.”
I thought about that for a moment. “You’re right. I can’t give up. And I won’t.” I glanced at my watch and snatched up my backpack. “I’ve gotta run, my flight’s about to leave.”
I fell asleep on the flight and dreamed about my friends. My cat Puzzle was first. Since I guess you could say I’m kind of special, I can talk to animals, and Puzzle and I have philisophical debates all the time. Then there was my friend Larry. He claims he can see the future, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe that fact.
I woke after that as the flight landed. I fought my way out of the airplane and grabbed my luggage. After that I flagged down a taxi.
A while later the taxi pulled up in front of my house. I stepped out and dragged my bags after me. “Thanks,” I said, handing the cabby his money.
I walked up to the door, and just as I reached it, the door was thrown open by Larry, who was grinning at me.
“Welcome home, CB!”
A bunch of people were lined up behind him, all smiling expectantly at me.
I was baffled. “Hi guys. How did you know I was coming?”
My mom, Paige, and her new husband, Jase Lockland, came forward to hug me first. “Larry said you called him,” said Paige.
I glanced at Larry, who sent me a calm, yet slightly pleading look. Okay. I wouldn’t tell them that I had intended to surprise them.
Mirror, Dart, Briar, Dirt, Sun, Pass, Larry’s mom Terry, and Larry’s dad Mattineo were inside. We hung out for a while, played some card games, swapped stories, then everyone gradually cleared out.
Larry stuck around for a while afterward and I decided to take a short walk with him.
We were walking through the park near our school. Our pace was slow and leisurely. We weren’t in any hurry.
“So how did you know I was coming?” I finally asked. “Did Willow call you?”
Larry laughed. “I saw it a couple weeks ago.”
I smiled slightly to myself. “So you really can see the future.”
“At times, yes. But not if the future is in too much doubt. But apparently there was no doubt about you coming early.”
I laughed. “I’m just not patient enough.”
We were silent for a few moments, then Larry said, “So, I heard about the problem with your real mom.”
I sighed. “I don’t know what to do. I know Paige will fight to keep me, but if it hurts her, is it worth it?”
“Of course it’s worth it,” said Larry. “None of us wants to lose you.”
I sighed again, but said nothing. My mind was filled with doubts.