Songbird Trilogy Book 1: The Maze Girl (complete)
Author: Julia R. West

Chapter 1
A Sure Decision

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

~Winston Churchill

 

 

"Go on!" says Lexi. But she doesn't know what's really going on. "Put your name in!" she shouts. But she's only seven, and there's a lot she doesn't know; this included.

This is The Drawing. Putting your name in means money for your family--a small amount, but it's better than nothing. This is the first I've ever considered it. Because whoever is chosen--there are four, will go to Coastall, and there are four challenges. Each challenge is specially targeted to one of the players weaknesses. Occasionally, one dies. It's not a likely thing, but it has happened. The thought of me, and of course three other people around my age, going through that gives me butterflies. I don't know if I can do that to myself.

There's hundreds of names in there. Maybe even thousands, I can't tell. But if I write my name on this slip of paper, Ellery Rowe will be in it, too. And, given my luck, my name will be pulled out. Mine, and three others with it. Somehow I'm sure of it.

So I put the pencil back in my pocket. "Mom, I can't do it." I know she'll be disappointed, but she would never force me to. The piece of paper flutters away, and I shake my head at her. My eyes are supposed to be saying "I'm Sorry" and I start to cry.

She comes forward with a hug. I accept, but push my mother away quickly when I see Rory. His fingers are hesitating, but I know what he's writing on that paper: Rory Griffin. "No!" I yell at him. But he's just let it slip out of his hand and into the slit. Then, through the transparent glass I watch his name disappear among all the others, and I lose sight of it.

"Why'd you do that?" I ask.

"Because I had to," he looks me straight in the eye and I almost begin to cry again.

"You've always had enough money! You've never had to do this before. Why now?"

"My dad's lost his job. My mom said I had to. And I don't mind. There's a million slips in there! Mine is one. The chances are one in a million."

That's Rory for you, always optimistic. Maybe that's why I'm so afraid of losing him. He's exactly my opposite. "You're exaggerating," I say, but quickly wipe away my smile when I can tell he's not amused. He knows how real this is. Probably just trying to cheer me up with that whole "one in a million" line. It's not working.

"My mom's calling me," he says, and nonchalantly slips away. His mother isn't calling him; he just doesn't want to talk to me. I sigh, and slink back over to Lexi and mom.

We walk home together, not saying anything, but not letting go of each other's hands. Finally, when we reach our small, yet somehow comforting home, I head straight for my room. I lie down on my bed, my gaze fixed at the ceiling for no reason except that I don't want my eyes to wander to the picture of Rory and me that sits on my dresser.

But staring like that only makes me sadder. As if the blank wall represents the silence I know Rory and I will have for a while now. Whenever I upset him, he always draws back. I'm just dreading the time when he doesn't forgive me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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