The Snow

The Snow by Caroline B. Cooney

Book: The Snow by Caroline B. Cooney Read Free Book Online
Authors: Caroline B. Cooney
your admirers can reach you?”
    Gretchen turned beet red. She looked ill.
    “Nobody else listed herself as the most precious object,” said Mrs. Shevvington. “I’m fascinated, Gretchen. I don’t know which is more interesting. That you consider yourself an object, or that you consider the sound of your voice so magnificent.”
    Gretchen’s essay pages shivered in the air. The meaner boys — the boys Gretchen herself had trained to do this — began flapping their arms to match her shaking hand.
    “Try to be less self-centered, Gretchen,” said Mrs. Shevvington. Mrs. Shevvington sat calmly, her thick body like a piece of the desk, her oatmeal face solid. “Think of another subject.”
    The mean people leaned back and smirked. Gretchen was as exposed as if she had been stripped of clothing.
    “Well?” said Mrs. Shevvington.
    Gretchen was now white as kindergarten paste.
    “I can’t think of anything,” mumbled Gretchen. “My head is empty.”
    Empty , thought Christina. Mrs. Shevvington had emptied her. Just for today, of course. Nothing permanent, like Val.
    A minute passed. The big old school clock made a slight tick as the minute hand twitched and moved on. Gretchen stood hot and stupid in front of the class. Even Vicki did nothing. Gretchen had not a friend in the world.
    Christina knew how that felt. “If I had an Elvis phone,” said Christina, “I would list it first, too, Mrs. Shevvington. I don’t think it’s fair of you to decide what is important to other people.”
    She had truly caught Mrs. Shevvington by surprise. “I do not think I was addressing you, Christina Romney,” said Mrs. Shevvington.
    “No, I don’t think you were either, Mrs. Shevvington. But I would like to hear about the other two telephones. Could you read the rest of your essay, please, Gretchen?”
    Gretchen looked at Christina suspiciously to see if it was a trap.
    The clock clicked again, with a little quiver of the long black hand.
    The passing bell rang. But neither Gretch nor anybody else fled. It was Mrs. Shevvington’s class. The hallways filled with shouting and noise.
    Mrs. Shevvington said at last, “Class dismissed.”
    I had the last word, thought Christina, her grin of delight tucked safely inside her face.
    Jonah was the first to stand. He walked straight to Christina’s desk. He looked down at Christina with a curiously gentle expression. He touched her hair with his fingers spread, as if resting one finger on each color hair. “You know, Chrissie,” he said, a grin crossing his face, “I’m kind of attracted to you.”
    “Kind of!” teased the other boys.
    Jonah’s grin filled his face, along with his new braces, and all of him seemed to shine and laugh.
    Mrs. Shevvington became nothing — merely a toad behind a desk. The entire room belonged to Jonah, and all the faces of all the seventh graders were upon him and upon Christina.
    “I’m sorry I’ve been such a creep since that fire thing,” said Jonah, loud enough for everybody to hear. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”
    In May Christina would be fourteen. It seemed very significant. Thirteen was too young to be in love. Thirteen was playing games, imitating high school kids.
    But fourteen: fourteen would be just right.
    Behind Christina’s house on the island grew apples. They were called Northern Spy. She loved that name.
    I am the Northern Spy, thought Christina.
    One advantage to old houses was that each door had a big old keyhole. Mr. Shevvington was in his study, which had a traditional mice-talking-to-Cinderella-shaped keyhole.
    Christina, the Northern Spy, put her eye to the hole.
    “Come in, Christina,” said Mr. Shevvington. He was laughing at her. “What did you want, my dear?” he said. He waved her toward the high wooden seat in front of the desk. It was the kind of seat you could not get comfortable in. The back cut into your back, the bottom made ridges in your bottom. She remained standing.
    On his desk was a stack

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