An Ill Wind
Dear Mom and Dad,
It is still raining. The local weather guy says it's a record. Not as bad as India that time the Jeep floated away, but pretty bad. Our dog, Emmy, got tired of being cooped up in the garage. She got out and ran down the driveway into the street. Aunt Maggie went nuts! She made these poor guys come in the rain and put in an invisible fence. It's this underground wire that is supposed to keep the dog in the yard. One step over it and whammo, she really gets zapped. (Don't tell Aunt Maggie,but Emmy runs right over it anyway!)
Ten-year-old Jesse reread his e-mail. He hadn't included the information that the dog had turned back into a dragon for an instant the first time she was zapped, and that Mrs. Nosy-Britches, who lived across the street, was standing at her mailbox at the exact moment the zap happened.
"It's the oddest thing," Mrs. Nosy-Britches kept saying to anyone who would listen, "but I could swear I saw this very large lizard in the driveway across the street. If I didn't know better, I'd swear it was some sort of a dragon."
Jesse finished and sent the e-mail. He listened to the rain rattling on the roof and watched the slide show on the screen saver. The pictures were of him and his parents in some of the places where they had traveled and lived. Looking at it made him happy, if a little homesick for his parents and even the places: India, Africa, Costa Rica. . . . When he had first come to America to stay with his cousin Daisy, who was also ten, he had been so homesick that he had worn two wristwatches, one showing the time in the U.S. and the other the time in Africa, where his parents were. These days he wore just the one watch showing American time, but when there wasn't quite enough to keep him busy, like now, he missed his parents.
Jesse was just shutting down the computer when he heard Daisy scream out his name. He leaped up, tore downstairs, slid down the hall in his socks, and collided with the kitchen table.
"What?" he said, panting. "What is it, Daze?"
Daisy was standing on a footstool gazing out the window over the sink. Her long white-blond hair was tucked behind her ears, which were pointy like an elf's and bright pink with excitement.
"Jess, look!" she said, tapping the windowpane.
Jesse looked, but the panes were fogging up from Daisy's breath. "What are we looking at?" he asked.
"Don't you see?" Daisy whispered. "There and there?"
Jesse boosted himself up onto the edge of the sink, leaned over, and rubbed a clear spot in the bottom pane. He stared hard through the porthole into the side yard. Trunks and leaves and branches were all churned up into one great green swarming, sopping mess.
"Boy, oh, boy," he said, mustering some appreciation for the view. "The wind sure is blowing hard."
Daisy tugged impatiently at the hood of his sweatshirt. "The two trees, Jess. See them?"
"Which two trees?" he said.
She groaned. "Get down and let me look."
They switched places. Daisy pointed and said, "They're standing right there, exactly ten feet from the house. I swear, Jess, those trees were not there before."
Jesse shivered. "How can you tell?" he asked.
"Simple. There isn't either a Douglas fir or a quaking aspen growing in our side yard," Daisy said, getting down from the sink. "Plus they both have a bright strip of cloth or ribbon or something wrapped around their trunks. You can't miss them." Even though he had been living in Daisy's house for nearly six months, Jesse didn't know every tree in the yard. That was Daisy's thing. Her favorite saying was "Not knowing the names of the flowers and the trees is like not knowing the names of your own sisters and brothers."
From the Trade Paperback edition.