Authors: Robin Stevenson
Tags: #JUV013000, #book
ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS
Text copyright Â© 2012 Robin Stevenson
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Stevenson, Robin, 1968-
Hummingbird heart [electronic resource] / Robin Stevenson.
Issued also in print format.
84 2012Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
813'.6Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
First published in the United States, 2012
Library of Congress Control Number
: Dylan is sixteen when she first meets her father,
who is looking for a donor match for his sick toddler.
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Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover design by Teresa Bubela
Cover artwork by Janice Kun
Author photo by David Lowes
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To Maggie Bird
I balanced the camera on a stack of books and squinted through the viewfinder, trying to line up the shot so that my mom and Karma were near the center and the teetering pile of books and papers on the end table wasn't visible.
“Hurry up.” Karma shifted her position, crossing her ankle over her knee and leaning forward. “Just take a picture already.”
“I'd be done already if you didn't keep talking.” My finger hovered over the button. “Mom? Could you at least smile a little?”
“My face is starting to ache.” She brushed her hair back over her shoulder. “Okay, fine.” She bared her teeth. “Cheese.”
I set the timer, ran to the couch and crouched between them.
The smile slid from Mom's face. “Christ. Enough.” She stood up and stretched. “You do know you're wasting your time, right?”
I shrugged and looked at the photo on the tiny screen. “Want to see it?”
Karma took a quick peek and made a face. “I look like Kermit. The lighting in here's weird. Greenish.”
“Let me see.” Mom took the camera from me and studied the picture, frowning slightly.
“You're the photographer, Mom. If you want to do itâ¦”
“I didn't say anything. Anyway, I don't
portraits. You know that.”
No kidding. If she did portraits, maybe we could afford to live somewhere halfway decent. As it was, Karma's room was barely big enough for her bed, the kitchen faucet dripped constantly, mold crept along the window frames and the downstairs neighbors grew marijuana in the shared backyard.
“Fine,” I said. “I'll print it. You'll send it to him, right?”
She sighed. “He won't write back, you know. So don't get your hopes up.”
“He might. You don't know.”
“Well, he never has before.” There was an unmistakable note of satisfaction in her voice.
I didn't say anything, because she was right. Every birthday since third grade I'd made Mom mail my father a photo of me. The first few times I used my school photo, but for the last three years I'd sent a family picture because sending one just of me felt sort of embarrassing. He'd never replied. I told Mom that I wanted to get to know him, but I wasn't sure if I meant it. Sometimes I wondered if I sent the pictures because I wanted him to feel guilty. Either way, I knew Mom didn't like it.
“Well,” she said. She looked at me, her expression unreadable. “Sweet sixteen.”
When she was sixteen, she was pregnant with me. It wasn't something she liked to talk about, but you didn't have to be a genius to guess that her memories weren't all happy ones.
Turning sixteen didn't change anything. I still had to go to school the next day. I frowned at myself in the dingy hallway mirror. Wrinkles. I leaned closer and stared at the two faint vertical lines between my eyebrows. They were barely visible, but they were most definitely there. It figured, what with the hole in the ozone layer, the pesticides in our food and the thousands of toxic chemicals coursing through our veins. I'd just read an article online about how my generation would be the first ever to have a shorter life span than the previous one.
“Pickle!” Mom yelled. “You're dragging your ass this morning. Do you need a ride?”
I frowned. In the mirror, my reflection frowned back at me and the lines deepened. “I'll take my bike.”
My mother drove an ancient gas-guzzling, carbon-spewing station wagon. A few months ago, someone put a sticker on her carâwhile she left it idling somewhere, I figured, though she denied itâthat read
for climate change
. She had laughed; then she'd sighed and said not everyone could afford hybrids and Smart cars. It took her awhile to get around to it, but she'd finally scraped the sticker off with nail polish remover and a dull kitchen knife.
In the kitchen, Karma was eating breakfast and Mom was sitting at the kitchen table, sketching. I grabbed a couple of slices of bread from the freezer and started making a peanut-butter sandwich.
Mom raised her eyebrows. “Tell me you're not eating that frozen.”
“It'll thaw by lunchtime. What are you drawing?”
I put down the frozen sandwich with a
. “You said you wouldn't get any more.”
She opened her mouth to say something, but stopped and shook her head. “So? Maybe I changed my mind. Sometimes people do that, you know.”