Back-to-School with the Judy Blume Project: Jim Denney's 'Martian Girl' Part 1
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Happy Back-to-School with the #JudyBlumeProject! Here's a very special surprise, even to my partner, Dana @thekitchwitch: a four-part series that begins today with installment one. On Thursday, I will post installment two, with installments three and four posting next week, again on Monday and Thursday.
I am thrilled to present this amazing guest post in four parts by author, Jim Denney, of the Timebenders series. I became friends with Jim on Twitter, my son has read (LOVED!) the first book in his series, Battle Before Time, and Jim thinks the world of Judy Blume, and our little #JudyBlumeProject (GAH!). As a MG author himself, he thinks so much of Judy Blume, that among his many projects, he took time out to write and share this riveting story, Martian Girl, with US! GRATEFUL!
I'm certain you'll enjoy this ode to seemingly everyone's favorite, Judy's Margaret. Check out our Facebook page, and you'll see that nearly every post to date includes AYTGIMM among the most meaningful and life-affirming of Judy Blume's prolific works for generations of tween girls during the angst-ridden onset of puberty. And rightly so. I hope this shows that any manner of respect you'd like to pay to Judy will be considered, and I hope this will inspire more men (young or young at heart) to contribute their thoughts and memories to our wonderful little project that one day hopes to be published as an anthology to honor our Judy.
Without further ado....
MARTIAN GIRL, BY JIM DENNEY, PART 1: MY LAST DAY ON EARTH
Tomorrow's my last day on Earth.
My dad says, "Zandria, you always over-dramatize things." But I'm not over-dramatizing this. I'm leaving Earth tomorrow.
So God, if you're out there somewhere, please do something. I don't want to go to Mars!
I'm talking to you on my Amulet, God, because Mom told me I should pray every day and I should keep a diary. She said, "You always have your Amulet on a chain around your neck—you should use it to record your thoughts and feelings."
But I have to be honest with you, God—I'm really not sure I believe in you. Mom wants me to talk to you every day, but Dad says you don't exist. So when I'm around Mom, I'm religious. When I'm around Dad, I don't mention your name. And when I'm by myself, I'm confused.
I have to be careful that no one else is listening when I talk to you. So let's just keep this between you and me. I mean, if you're there.
I'm really sad we're leaving San Pedro. I like it here. I like going to the beach. I like my friends. San Pedro may be old and dirty, but it's my home. I'm thirteen years old, and I've never been farther away from home than the Santa Monica Pier.
Dad always promised that someday, when he had enough money saved up, we'd go to Disneyland. But he never saved up the money, and now I'll never get to go. And I'll never get to see Yosemite or the Grand Canyon or New York either.
Why do we have to move to Mars? Horrible, cold, dreary Mars! I have to stop thinking about it or I'll cry.
They won't let us take many of our belongings, so we held a big yard sale and sold almost everything we own. I had to sell all my dresses. Mom said they don't wear dresses on Mars. Everybody wears baggy white jumpsuits. Yuck.
The few things we still own are loaded on the rented van in our driveway. We have to sleep on the bare floors of our poor little empty house tonight. It's so sad!
Early tomorrow morning, we'll drive to the Spaceport and take off for Mars. Even though I hate leaving San Pedro, I don't blame Dad. It's not his fault he lost his job at the factory.
Stupid bad economy! Dad says there are too many people, not enough jobs, and not enough money to go around. I don't know why the government doesn't just print more money and give it to us. I mean, doesn't that make sense, God? But no! The government can't help my dad have a job here on Earth, but it can pay us to move to Mars!
I think the government is stupid.
I don't know very much about Mars, God, but it must be a really awful place if the government has to pay people to move there. Dad says it won't be so bad. I asked him if I'll get to ride a bicycle or take walks on Mars. He said no, it's too cold outside and there's no air pressure, and my blood would boil, then turn to ice. I'll have to live in a tunnel under the ground for the rest of my life!
See? It's going to be just awful.
Mom cries all the time over nothing at all. Today I tried to help her feel better about moving away. I said, "Well, at least I won't miss the hole in my bedroom wall where the rain water drips in."
Mom burst out crying and said, "Oh, we never fixed that leak! Our poor little house! We'll never see it again."
Really, who cries about a stupid little leak in the wall?
But it makes me sad to leave our house. It's tiny and kind of run-down, but it's the only house I've ever lived in. It sits on top of the hill, and I can see the ocean from my bedroom window.
When I was packing my things this morning, I heard Mom and Dad talking real quiet in the next room. I know it's wrong to eavesdrop, but I stopped packing and I went to the door and listened.
Mom said, "Jasen, I'm so scared. I can't help it. I keep picturing our transport blowing up in mid-air. We'll all die—just like those two hundred people on the Aurora."
Dad said, "Hannah, the Aurora was an old ship—one of those rusty converted freighters. I booked us on a brand-new passenger ship, the Nebula—safest ship in the fleet. Nothing's going to happen to us."
"I know it's silly to worry, but I can't help—wait! Listen!"
"Listen to what? I don't hear anything?"
"I know. It's too quiet. You don't think Zandria overheard—"
"How could she hear us whispering from the next room?"
Well, whispers really do echo in an empty house........