Effie Starr Look Has One More Ques­tion

Girls' World - - An Excerpt From - MARTHA FREE­MAN by

In late May, Effie’s dad left for the Ara­bian Penin­sula, where the flight of Sunspot I would be­gin. He would do last-minute prepa­ra­tions on the ground. Later, Effie’s mom would join him.

But first she helped pack up what her daugh­ter needed for the sum­mer in the fam­ily Land Rover and drove her to Penn­syl­va­nia. They had just crossed the Delaware River when Mom men­tioned that Aunt Clare and Un­cle Ted didn’t know much about kids. “Are you say­ing they don’t want me?” Effie asked. “Be­cause now is a bad time to bring that up.” “No, no, no,” her mother said. “Your aunt and un­cle love you. It’s just that they don’t have kids of their own, and they aren’t around kids much. But I told them you are very self-suf­fi­cient. ‘You won’t have to worry about her for one minute,’ I told them. ‘She is bring­ing books and her ipad. She will be fine.’” For a few min­utes af­ter that the only sounds in the car were the whoosh and hum of the road. “Do you like your sis­ter?” Effie asked. Not hav­ing a sib­ling of her own, Effie was more-than-av­er­age in­ter­ested in how that whole thing worked. “Of course,” Mom said. “I love her.” “But do you like her?” Effie re­peated. “Of course,” Mom said again. “Well... we are very dif­fer­ent. I’m the big sis­ter and I’ve al­ways been more, I guess you’d say, out­go­ing. You won’t find Clare de­sign­ing a so­lar air­plane, for ex­am­ple, or fly­ing one ei­ther. She’s too much of a wor­rier for one thing, and for an­other she never had much drive.” It was quiet for a mo­ment be­fore Mom added, “Not that that’s a bad thing. It takes all kinds to make up a world.” “Or a fam­ily,” Effie said. “Yes,” said her mom. “Or a fam­ily.” “I want a bi­cy­cle,” Effie said. “I want a bi­cy­cle so I can go places with­out both­er­ing Aunt Clare and Un­cle Ted. A bi­cy­cle will make me more self-suf­fi­cient.” “Hmmm,” said her mother. “Do you sup­pose it’s safe for you to ride a bike around Penn Creek?” Effie shrugged. “Ac­cord­ing to you, in Penn Creek, noth­ing ever hap­pens.” Eyes fixed on the road, Effie’s mother nod­ded. “That’s true,” she said. “Let’s stop and get you a bike.” Effie used her phone to find the near­est bike store, and a few min­utes later they pulled off High­way 80. When they re­sumed their trip, a blue fif­teen-speed bike hung from a new black bike rack on the back of the Land Rover. “Thank you,” Effie said. “Just prom­ise you’ll wear your hel­met,” her mom said. Effie had promised, and now—with that in mind—she re­trieved the hel­met, which was pur­ple and sil­ver, from its hook in the mud­room. She hadn’t ac­tu­ally worn it yet or got­ten her bike out of the garage ei­ther.

Maybe, she thought, this will be the start of an ad­ven­ture of my own.

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