This is the first scene in my new YA Fantasy novel, Holding Forgotten Stars. Thanks for reading!
I’m not cut out to live a life of mediocrity, but that’s what people live here in Northrock, South Carolina. Population 692. And like most things, it rarely changes. It seems as soon as a baby is born, someone dies. No one ever leaves, either. Everyone has just settled here because they’re stuck. The fifty-foot fence surrounding our town keeps us all caged inside. And, to my knowledge, no one has ever tried to find a way out.
But I will. In less than two years, I’ll graduate from high school, and that’s when my life will really start. I know it’ll break my parents’ heart, but I want to see the world. Maybe I’ll drive to Yellowstone and take hundreds of pictures, take a bus to San Francisco and hop on one of those trolleys, and go hiking in the Yosemite and see the Giant Sequoias.
Right now, these are just places I’d read about in our history books and in our one school’s encyclopedia. But they looked magical, and the day I get my high school diploma, I’m taking off. Provided, of course, I can make enough money at my job to buy a car. I don’t earn a lot at Icy Dream, but Dad promised he’d match whatever I made at the ice cream shop so that I could buy a car before my senior year. He doesn’t know I’ll be using it to leave, though.
That’s the plan anyway, but not one person in Northrock has ever seen the fence open. Supposedly, it’s meant to protect us. From what, I don’t know, but I can’t imagine anything beyond it that’s worse than being trapped like an animal.
Before I make my big getaway, I’m going to test the waters, see if anyone is willing to help me find a way out of Northrock. It’s not a plan my parents are going to go for. I know that already, but at least it’ll get us talking about the fence and how someone can leave if they want to. We’ve never talked about that. I don’t think anyone has. It’s just assumed that we’ll all stay here and live happily ever after.
“Whatcha thinkin’ about?” Sammie has been my best friend since the first grade. We never go a day without seeing one another even if we’ve had a fight.
She tugs one of my brown curls and plops next to me on the edge of the creek, dangling her long, pale legs deep into the water. She kicks them back and forth while waiting for my reply.
But I really don’t need to answer her. She already knows. Sammie’s the only one who knows how badly I want to leave Northrock. And while she tries to understand, she just doesn’t. She’s happy here with her boyfriend, Evan, and her parents and sister. All she wants to do is get married and have kids of her own. And she can do that living right here.
She sighs. “You gotta get your nose out of those encyclopedias.”
“I can’t, Sammie. The pictures are so beautiful I can almost reach out and touch those places. You know,” I scoot around so I can face her, drawing one leg up onto the grass, “in those national parks, they have pictures of the sky, and the stars look like diamonds on a black sheet. They’re so big, and I wonder if you could actually touch them.”
Sammie snorts. “Touch a star. You’re dancing outside reality as grandma says.”
I grin. Sammie’s grandmother always brings a smile to my face even if she isn’t present. She just has a way about her that makes everything seem okay. “Yeah, well, even Grammie Maggie probably wouldn’t mind catching a look at those stars. She spends a lot of time in her backyard looking up at the sky.”
“She misses Grampa.” Sammie pulls her feet up and shakes the water off them.
“What are you doing for your history project?”
“Mrs. Fielders just assigned it today.”
“I’m going to do mine on Theodore Roosevelt.”
My nose wrinkles. “Like that’s never been done before. I want to do something different. Maybe I’ll write about the history of one of the parks.”
“You and those parks.” She jumps to her feet and swipes the leaves off the back of her Jordache jeans. “We’d better get back. The festival starts in a couple of hours.”
Regretfully, I stand, but I don’t immediately turn around. The sun glints off the cool waters of the creek, and I wish I could stay put a little while longer.
Sammie hooks her arm through mine. “Let’s go. You’ve got ice cream to dip.”
I nudge her in the side with my elbow. “Not for two hours yet, and I can’t believe I have to work during the festival.”
“Only for the first hour, though, right? I want to ride the Ferris Wheel, and Evan’s too chicken.”
“Yeah, only for the first hour.”
Our tennis shoes scuffle against the dried leaves as we make our way through the woods and back onto the main road that leads into town. Not that there’s much to it, though.
We don’t have shopping malls or theaters here. It’s just a grocery store, some drive-thru restaurants, one steakhouse, a couple of diners, and a big discount store where everyone shops for school clothes. Nothing like what I’ve read about in other towns and cities across the world.
As we reach the asphalt, I look back over my shoulder at the trees now obscuring the creek. One day, I’m going to leave all of this behind for good. That’s a promise I make to myself every day.
My thoughts, experiences, challenges, and goals. Right here. At least once a week or so. Oh, and opinions, too. Those will definitely come in. Join me!