Naomi Milliner

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Daisy McKay, Late Bloomer

Hey, my name’s Daisy. Daisy McKay. Your average 12-year-old girl. There’s nothing wrong with me; but there’s nothing special, either.

You know those growth charts in the doctor’s office? I’m smack in the middle. I’m also smack in the middle of five sisters. Sounds fun, right? Trust me. It isn’t. Especially since Iris is gorgeous; Lily’s a genius; Rosie’s athletic; and Violet’s so darn cute it makes up for how annoying she is. Well, almost.

Anyway, the thing is, it’s thirty-four hours and twenty-five minutes ‘til my first day of 7th grade, and seventy-seven days (and six hours) until I’m finally a teenager. Sometime between now and then, I’m going to go from average to amazing!

I just have to figure out how.

DAISY McKAY, LATE BLOOMER

Chapter One

To Do List:

  1. Start stupid summer packet.
  2. Finish stupid summer packet.
  3. Catch up on sleep.

It’s a shame they don’t give grades for procrastination; I would get an A+.

I’m sprawled out on my living room floor, surrounded by pencils, erasers, worksheets and calculators, trying to start – and finish – my “summer” homework packet five days before school starts. These math problems would make Albert Einstein rip out that crazy hair of his. And the reading list? Not one book was made into a movie. I’m actually gonna have to read!

“Why do they call it ‘summer reading’?” I wonder out loud. “I mean, have you ever heard of ‘springtime science’?”

“How about ‘autumn equations’? Or ‘January geography’?” Henry laughs. As tall as he is skinny, with an I-stuck-my-finger-in-a-socket red hair, Henry Rosenstein is literally the boy-next-door. He’s also my second best friend.

I just don’t admit it in public. The older I get, the harder it is to have a guy for a close friend; you can’t exactly have “girl talk” with a boy! Luckily, I’ve got Marissa for that, and everything else.

Speaking of Marissa… “Need some help with that math, Daisy?” she offers, scooching over next to me before I even answer. With light chocolate skin and dark chocolate eyes, she’s as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside. In fact, she’s pretty much perfect. I try not to hold it against her.

“Summer and homework shouldn’t even be in the same sentence,” I groan. “It’s impossible to get all this done!”

“That’s a bunch of baloney, Daise,” Henry says. “If you’d done your math in June and your reading in July – ”

“I’d have had no summer vacation!”

“Did someone mention baloney?” my sister Rosie asks, racing in with a package of baloney and a loaf of bread.  It’s the third time today she’s found an excuse to come in and bat her eyelashes at Henry, the love of her 9-year-old life.

“Thanks,” Henry says, oblivious to Rosie’s undying affection.

Next, my 16-year-old sister Lily walks by, so absorbed in her 30-pound novel she practically trips over us.

“Wow!” Henry says, just in time for her to look up and avoid landing on my face. “Is that your summer reading assignment?”

Lily laughs. “No, this is for fun.”

“Yeah, Lily did all her summer reading back in pre-school,” I tease.

“Is that even allowed?” Henry asks.

“Uh-oh. Looks like somebody hasn’t finished her summer packet yet.” I watch Iris-the-college-freshman sashay into the room, barely covered in a shocking pink bikini (more shocking than pink). Henry’s eyes practically pop out. Plus I think he may have stopped breathing.

“What a shame,” says my parents’ flirt-born, I mean, first-born. “It’s a perfect day for the pool…”

I grit my teeth to keep from saying something Mom will make me regret.

“Guess I’ll have to go all by my lonesome,” Iris sighs unconvincingly.

Rosie’s eyes dart from Henry to Iris, torn between the love of her life and a tan. “I’ll go with you!” she shouts. So much for true love.

As Rosie sprints upstairs to her bedroom, my littlest sister, 5-year-old Violet, pirouettes into the room, nearly colliding with Mom’s favorite lamp.

“Daisy? Are you daydreaming again?” Marissa asks, waving her Luscious Lilac nails in front of my nose.

Before I can respond, the doorbell rings. “I’ll get it!” Vi shouts. She dances to the front door, then announces, “It’s for Marissa.”

Sure enough, Marissa’s dad walks in and smiles at us. “Hello, Daisy. Henry.”

I smile back. “Hi Mr. Manning.”

“Hey, Dad.” Marissa stands up. “Mom said I could stay ‘til dinner.”

“Sorry, Sweetie. There’s been a change in plans.”

Marissa makes a face at me. “See you tomorrow?”

I give her an enthusiastic thumbs-up, but after she leaves, it’s even harder to force myself to stare at another math equation. I head to the kitchen and grab a tub of chocolate chocolate chip ice cream, chocolate sauce, and chocolate whipped cream. I’m about to call Henry to join me when the doorbell rings again.

I race back into the living room and see Dr. Manning’s car still parked outside, with him in it. Marissa must’ve forgotten something. I open the door with a smile.

Tears are streaming down her face.

“Marissa, what is it? What happened?”

She’s crying so much it’s kind of hard to understand her. It sounds like, “We’re moving next week… To Germany.” But I know that can’t be right.

“What did you say?” I ask her.

She says it again, and this time there’s no mistaking her words. But they still can’t be right.

“Germany Germany?” I ask, hoping there’s another one I don’t know about. “Where they speak a different language and eat sauerkraut and live in a totally different time zone?”

Marissa nods through her tears.

I have a million things to say, a zillion questions to ask, but not a single one matters.

My best friend in the world is headed for the other side of it.


1 Comment

  1. Ann McCallum says:

    Great characters! How intriguing!

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