This is my second year entering this contest. Last year, I was a finalist in the YA category, and this year I’m entering in MG. Thanks for stopping by to read my entry.
Carina of the Southern Sky (500 words)
I’m the one who called 911. Mama is gone because of me.
Something that awful should become etched in my brain forever. Every single detail. But it’s not. Big chunks of that night are missing.
I see bits and pieces: Flashing blue lights, the beam of bright yellow shining across the wet grass, Mama staring at me from the back of a police car.
What I remember most is showing up in the middle of the night at my foster parents’ house. Andy and Jodie waited on their porch for me. Before I’d gotten half-way up the steps, Jodie wrapped a blanket around my shoulders and said, “You’re safe here with us, Carina.”
It was still summer break the night I showed up here. But now, with tomorrow being the first day of school, Jodie starts talking about it before we even finish dinner.
We’re still sitting at the crowded kitchen table, but my mind drifts. The truth is, I don’t care about my schedule, the teachers, or the stupid team mascot. It isn’t my school, with my friends. Most important, Mama won’t be here for my first day of middle school like she always promised.
“Excuse me,” I blurt.
My chair scrapes the floor as I leap up.
“Carina,” Jodie calls.
As the screen door slams behind me, I hear Andy say, “Give her a minute.”
Without looking back, I sprint beyond the shrubs and concrete path. Dropping onto the lawn, I search the darkening sky. Millions of stars twinkle through drifting clouds. “Hey up there,” I say. “I’m drifting too.”
Tears spill down my cheeks remembering the nights Mama and I gazed up, trying to be the first to holler, “There she is! Carina of the Southern sky!”
The door creaks open on the porch behind me. “Carina, it’s getting late. Tomorrow’s a big day.”
I don’t move. I need something familiar to calm me—something from home.
“Did you hear me?”
I roll onto my belly to see Jodie squinting at me in the semi-darkness of the porch light, biting her lower lip.
“I’m looking for my star. The one I was named for.”
Jodie tilts her head to the side. “I guess it’s alright. But just for a few more minutes. There’s no need in you being all tuckered out for your first day tomorrow.”
Spanish Moss flutters like ghosts in the darkness. But I look beyond it, refusing to be afraid.
“My Carina” finally appears from behind a cloud. You can’t see the real Carina from North America, it’s only the North Star.
But none of that matters anymore. What matters is the little balloon of hope that inflates at the thought of us both looking at the same star like we used to.
I make a promise into the flickering night sky. “I’m going to find a way to bring you back home, Mama. I swear it.”
And I will. It’s my fault she’s gone, and it’s up to me to fix it.