Authors: A.M. Griffin
© 2014 A.M. Griffin
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without
prior permission of the copyright owners.
Journeyed (from Hell to hope) is a copyrighted work of
Diana Wimbish and is used in this work with expressed permission.
Editing services were provided by Anya Richards,
Cover design by Robin Ludwig Design Inc.,
Formatting by Stacey Price
This book is
dedicated to my loving family; Ryan, Jori, Myles and Mia Loren. Finally a book
the kids can read! And also to my number one supporters; my mom and my little
Thank you to
my beta readers; Jennifer, Christina, Tasha and Bridget – you ladies have
really helped me shape the characters. A big thank you to my editor
extraordinaire Anya Richards who agreed to take on a YA first person story (even
after I told her it was my first attempt at both). And last but not least,
thank you to Danica Avet for giving me the extra reassurance that every author
from Hell to hope
when I was lost and couldn’t find my
through the thicket of life’s events
and I lacked the strength to face
in the merry-go-round of experience
…when life kissed me on one cheek
and hurt me on the other
and left me dangling at the end of my
exhausted, unsheltered, frightened and
…I found myself through a ray of hope
when things were dark and foreboding
and joy was divorced from light
and the presence of absence was all
through the dark and perilous night
when I was weaponless against the
weight of the world
…struggling for reason from dusk to
and my journey was tiresome and blue
it was faith that led me on
…and hope that brought me through
Ann Arbor, MI
“So,” my mom
says, elongating the word for way too long. “You’re going to keep giving me the
silent treatment, huh?”
I don’t even turn
to look at her but, because of the blue-hued light created by the gadgets on
the console of the car, I see her reflection in the passenger-side window. She
takes a quick glance in my direction before turning back to look at the road.
shame,” she continues. “You’re seventeen going on nine.”
This time I do
turn, only to give her my best ‘not impressed’ expression ever.
“Don’t look at
me that way, Sinta Marie Allen. I call it like I see it.”
I roll my eyes
and go back to leaning my forehead against the window, pretending to ignore her.
As she maneuvers through the early morning traffic, I watch the scenery as it
whizzes by. If it were any later, cars would practically be bumper to bumper on
Plymouth Road but, as early as it is, traffic is pretty light.
lights lead the way as we pass by apartment buildings. Some of the windows have
light shining through the curtains, but most are darkened. I imagine the
occupants living behind those windows to be in bed, asleep, as I wish I were.
Through the reflection I see how sleepy my eyes appear. They’re hazel, but the
blue lighting makes them look much lighter than they really are. My wild hair
is pulled back into a ponytail that still reaches way past my shoulders. Plentiful,
curly frizzes frame my small oval face. I don’t act like a little girl, but I
could surely pass for one. In the process of picking apart my looks, I catch a
glimpse of my watch and wait for my brain to work out the numbers, which are inverted
in the window. Two-thirty in the morning. Ugh. It should be a crime to be up
how good this experience will look on your college applications,” she says,
trying to sound bright and cheery.
filled out my application, turned it in and was accepted,” I say, unamused, as
if she doesn’t already know any of this.
I clamp my
mouth shut, realizing she just tricked me into talking.
Shu-Shu,” she says, speaking in her baby voice, which I could ignore, but I won’t
let her call me by the name she used when I was a little girl.
“Why? Because you’re
too old for me to call you Shu-Shu?” She snorts. “Well, you’re sure not acting
acting like a baby. I’m acting like someone who doesn’t want to go to band
“I don’t see
why not. You’ve gone for the past three years and always loved it.”
“I only went
so I could add the extracurricular activity to my college application. I don’t
need to anymore—mission accomplished.”
“But say, just
a hypothetical here, but say something awful happened and the University of Michigan
couldn’t take you anymore. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to go this time, to be
able to put this experience down too?”
I glare at
Michigan has been my dream since I was in elementary. Our third grade class had
gone to the University for a play, which one, I can’t remember. But it wasn’t
the play that held my attention; it had been all the students walking around
with backpacks slung over their shoulders and all the tall buildings. The
campus had a larger-than-life feel. I knew, right then, that Michigan was where
I wanted to be.
University of Michigan had been a guy, I would have been arrested for stalking
him. I spent all my time on their website, looking up majors, statistics on
their graduation rates and acceptance rates. I kept track of the required
courses needed and I made sure to take all of them and more. I wrote letters to
the Undergraduate Chair for the past five years, letting him know I was going
to apply to his program. I wanted him to remember my name when my application
came across his desk. At this point, maize and azure is practically running through
She knows I’m
dead serious about Michigan, so her joking about me not getting in is a big
She shakes her
head. Her dark-brown, wavy hair bounces on her shoulders. She’s wearing sweats,
and the outfit makes her look more like my sister rather than my mother. People
say we look just alike, except that I’m light-skinned and she’s darker. I can’t
complain being compared to my mother; she’s beautiful and I’ve always thought
she says. “I’ll stop talking about Michigan. You got in. Great job.”
I want to laugh. It had been a lot of hard work. I devoted most of my short
life to getting in.
She turns to
look at me quickly. “You know I’m so proud of you, baby. You knew what you wanted
and stuck with it. I’m just…” She takes a deep, somehow defeated-sounding
breath. “I’m afraid that you spent all this time trying to attain this goal and
now that you’ve done it…” She shrugs. “Now what Sinta? Now will you start
having some fun?”
I frown. “What
are you talking about? I do have fun—all the time.”
“Name one fun
thing you’ve done recently.”
I open my
mouth to answer but, before I can say anything, she interrupts me. “That doesn’t
have anything to do with you trying to get into the University of Michigan.”
Whatever I was
going to say is lost. I close my mouth and try to think.
One thing. There has to be plenty things that I do. Hmm…
says. “Sin, let this be your fun thing. You’re right, you don’t need this to go
on your college application. In fact, you don’t need it for anything. Just go
and have fun, enjoy yourself. You and Mia can sit around and talk about boys
and about your favorite singer, rapper or whatever you girls feel like talking
about. It’ll be fun.”
Oh my God.
How torturous will that be?
“Mia and I
don’t sit around talking about those things. I have way more important things
to discuss than boy bands or anything else juvenile. Give me a break.”
“What do you
usually talk about then?”
She makes a
right on Huron River Drive and lifts her brow in the process.
“We talk about
other things,” I add quickly. “She talks about her boyfriend Ian all the time.”
I grimace. “Too much actually.”
she exclaims, as if she hadn’t heard me just complaining. ”You’ll go to camp
and enjoy yourself and you and Mia can talk about her boyfriend. You’ll see,
you’ll enjoy yourself.”
I put my hands
on my head, feeling a headache coming on. “Why are you doing this me? I don’t
want to go to camp. I shouldn’t be forced into it like I’m some baby.
mother does what she thinks is best, for the good of her child. It’s only a week,
it’s not the end of the world. When you come back you’ll see things
“No I won’t. I’ll
be madder than ever that I had to endure a week of torturous punishment.”
week hanging out with your best friend shouldn’t be a punishment.”
doesn’t give a lick about camp. She wasn’t even going to go this year either.
She’s only going because Ian joined band and he thought they should go so they
could spend some “alone” time together. I highly doubt I’ll be seeing much of
Mia outside of the mandatory activities and, even then, her and Ian will be all
hugged up and pawing at each other like lustful teenagers. I’ll be the
uncomfortable third wheel—as always.”
As she clears
her throat, I settle back into my seat, letting what I just told her sink in.
you’ll have to make a new friend.”
I groan at the
thought of trying to make a new friend. “I don’t need any new friends. One is
fine with me.”
“Well, you can’t
back out now. Your dad already paid for this trip.”
I squint at
her. Talking about my dad was just as bad as joking about me not getting into
She waves her
hand through the air. “Whatever the case, the trip is paid for and it’s too
late to cancel, so you might as well make the best of it.”
wrong with me wanting to stay home with you?” I ask desperately, as we turn up
the driveway leading to the back parking lot of our school. “I can help you out
in the clinic this week. Wouldn’t that be fun? We can just turn around right
here. We don’t even have to pull all the way in.”
As we draw
nearer to the charter coach that members of the band spent most of the first semester
fund-raising to get, my heart flutters. If I can't convince her now, I’ll be
stuck on that bus for sixteen hours singing songs like
Kum ba yah
being forced to watch Mia and Ian make out.
I say, whining. “I really don’t want to go.”
know I love it when you help me out, but this conversation is getting old.
We’ve been going round and round like this for months. You’re going, end of
story.” She pulls into an empty parking space and turns off the car. “I’ll help
you with your things,” she says, popping the trunk.
defiant, and with nothing else to lose, I cross my arms and don’t move. She
opens her door and gets out. I hear her saying good morning to some of the
other parents and kids, but I don’t budge.
the kids passing my car with their bags either in their hands or over their
shoulders. Some look my way and smile. Some even wave enthusiastically. All are
in grades below mine. With this being my senior year, I don’t expect many
others from my class to be here. Like I told my mom, band camp isn’t needed for
anyone’s college application, especially since most of us seniors applied for
college last summer or during the beginning of first semester. Besides Mia and
Ian, I expect to be hanging around a bunch of younger kids.
side mirror I see my mom coming up to my door. I quickly lock it. Childish?
She raps on
the window and, when I don’t answer, she raps again, this time faster and
harder. When I still ignore her she leans closer to the window. “For the love
of God, if you keep it up I will unlock this door and drag your skinny tail out
and strangle you in front of everyone here and
make you get on
My mom has
never hit me before, she’s full of threats and they usually prove empty. I turn
to see her glaring daggers at me.
The look on
her face says that she intends to do as she said and more. I open the door and
step out and around her. I grab my duffle and sleeping bag from the trunk and
head to the bus.
going to at least kiss me goodbye?” she yells out after me.
“I can’t. I
need to hurry. I don’t want the fun to start without me.”
turning I raise my hand in the air, saying bye. Of course she’ll be mad for a
little while, but then she’ll start missing me. I’m her only daughter and she
forced me to go on a trip I didn’t want to take. I think by tomorrow afternoon she’ll
be calling the camp to check up on me.
I set my
things next to the other bags on the ground by the side of the bus and climb
the stairs. I only stop briefly to see if Mia has made it yet.
She and Ian are
huddled in a back seat, kissing.
fun is starting already
I walk down
the aisle, passing ninth and tenth graders. Closer to the back are the eleventh
graders and, taking up the last three rows, the twelfth graders. Myles Jackson or
MJ as he’s called and Shayla Day have a seat across from Mia and Ian. Seeing MJ
surprises me, because he’s a jock and the number one football prospect from
Michigan. He doesn’t need band camp to go on
and Aaron take up another seat, with MJ’s best friend Eric and his girlfriend Melissa
across from them. Then there’s Daniel and Andrew taking up a seat, and across
from them is an empty one.
“We saved you
a seat,” Mia says, pulling her mouth away from Ian’s long enough to talk and
say sliding into it. I put my ear buds in and pull the hood of my Huron Band
sweatshirt over my head.
Just as soon
as I close my eyes I feel the dip in my seat. Opening one, I peek to catch a
glimpse of Wade Hill squeezing into the seat next to me.
he says, after settling in. “I asked Mrs. Franklin for my own seat but she told
me there wasn’t enough room. Mrs. Burgess told me to sit next to you, since
you’re so skinny.”
I close my
This is a punishment
I hear the
creak of the door closing and, after a few minutes, the bus begins to move.
testing,” Ms. Burgess’ voice projects over the loud speaker. She’s the new
young teacher who just started teaching at our school this year. “How about I
sing everyone a nice little lullaby to get you all to sleep, hmm?