I am water, p.1

I Am Water, page 1

 

I Am Water
 


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I Am Water


  Hannah works as the only female river-rafting guide in her closed-minded small town. Labeled a tomboy, she often struggles to reconcile the way she fits into normal gender stereotypes.

  Then, Hannah meets Ezra, who blurs the lines between woman and man. They begin an exciting new relationship, but soon Ezra starts pushing Hannah’s limits and her definition of love.

  ISBN: 9781538382790

  www.west44books.com

  Please visit our website, www.west44books.com.

  For a free color catalog of all our high-quality books, call toll free 1-800-542-2595 or fax 1-877-542-2596.

  Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Names: Specksgoor, Meg.

  Title: I am water / Meg Specksgoor.

  Description: New York : West 44, 2020. | Series: West 44 YA verse Identifiers: ISBN 9781538382790 (pbk.) | ISBN 9781538382806

  (library bound) | ISBN 9781538383407 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Children’s poetry, American. | Children’s poetry, English. | English poetry.

  Classification: LCC PS586.3 S643 2020 | DDC 811’.60809282--dc23

  First Edition

  Published in 2020 by

  Enslow Publishing LLC

  101 West 23rd Street, Suite #240

  New York, NY 10011

  Copyright © 2020 Enslow Publishing LLC

  Editor: Caitie McAneney

  Designer: Seth Hughes

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer.

  Printed in the United States of America CPSIA compliance information: Batch #CS18W44: For further information contact Enslow Publishing LLC, New York, New York at 1-800-542-2595.

  The Thing About Rivers

  They have

  a way

  of f l o w i n g

  through you

  when

  you’ve worked

  on one

  long enough.

  Guide a river

  for

  a few years

  and

  it ends up

  guiding

  you.

  1

  The Way It Moves

  People climb

  in my boat

  every day.

  I introduce myself—

  Hi, I’m Hannah.

  They are eager-eyed.

  Wearing

  wet suits.

  Nervous

  excitement.

  They understand

  the thrill

  in

  the moment.

  But

  they don’t

  understand

  the way

  the water

  winds its way

  into

  my veins.

  Creating channels

  that feed

  into

  my heart

  like

  a stream.

  2

  My Guests

  I guide families

  with children

  who watch

  each drop

  and bend

  with a

  mix

  of

  fear

  and

  joy.

  Students

  from

  the inner city

  whose feet are

  confident

  on concrete,

  but

  unsure

  in

  moving

  water.

  Men and women

  on dates or

  anniversaries.

  Going well

  or poorly.

  3

  Boy Scouts

  looking

  to prove

  their

  grit.

  Earn

  their

  merit badges.

  And everyone

  in

  between.

  The water

  does not

  judge.

  Only

  punishes

  the ones

  who

  don’t

  respect

  it.

  4

  September

  The man

  in the

  front of

  my raft

  is a

  scoutmaster.

  Easily

  twice

  my age.

  The water

  silvers

  the hair

  under his

  wide

  hat.

  I turn

  the bow

  to steer

  toward

  river left.

  My hands

  firmly grip

  my

  guide stick.

  He corrects me

  with

  a stroke on

  the right.

  5

  Like he’s

  been doing

  for an hour.

  Typical.

  “Stop steering

  my boat,”

  I half

  command,

  half

  plead.

  “That’s

  my job.”

  “I’ve been

  canoeing

  since

  before you

  were born.

  So

  I think

  I know

  what I’m

  doing,”

  he replies.

  Gives

  a smug

  laugh.

  “Great,

  you know

  the person

  in the back

  steers,”

  6

  I say.

  I match

  his snark.

  He darts me

  a quick look.

  Like

  who do you

  think you are?

  The way only

  middle-aged men

  talking to

  high school girls

  know how.

  He is

  about

  to say

  something

  more. But

  I yell

  for

  everyone

  to

  paddle

  forward.

  We’re

  coming up to

  the first of

  three

  Class III

  rapids.

  All in a row.

  I’m going

  7

  to need

  their cooperation

  to keep

  the boat straight.

  His wife and

  two sons

  stroke for me.

  Right on cue.

  But

  the father

  slips in

  a strong

  back paddle

  just before

  a boulder.

  It throws off

  my control.

  The bow

  crashes

  into the rock.

  Water explodes.

  His wife

  is spilled

  overboard.

  The rapid

  flushes her

  through

  two drops.

  Kicking

  and

  crying.

  Forgetting

  8

  every

  rule

  from the safety talk.

  Remain calm.

  Let the water

  take you.

  I finally

  get her

  back

  into the boat.

  Her face is as

  white as

  the top


  of a

  wave.

  Her eyes

  as big as

  the holes

  she

  just

  avoided.

  The husband

  rages

  on

  about my

  lack of skill.

  We

  arrive

  onshore

  tired

  and

  defeated.

  9

  It is

  always

  men

  who try

  to run

  a

  river

  for

  me.

  10

  The Thing About High School

  It isn’t

  much different

  sometimes.

  Just a big,

  unforgiving

  river.

  Full of boys

  who will

  grow up to be

  silvery men.

  Wearing

  wide hats.

  Thinking

  their strokes are

  always right.

  Girls like

  shiny pools with

  bubbly laughs.

  Boys smooth as

  wave trains.

  Leading

  straight to whirlpools

  you’ll never survive.

  Then there’s

  the rest of us.

  11

  The backwash.

  We are

  the eddies.

  The edges

  of river

  outside

  the mainstream.

  We run

  against

  the natural

  flow of things.

  That’s where

  the flotsam

  meets

  and curdles.

  That’s where

  the safety is.

  But

  also

  where you

  can get stuck.

  Once in an eddy,

  it can be

  pretty difficult

  to turn yourself

  back into the current.

  Once you

  become an eddy,

  you never run

  with the fast

  crowd again.

  12

  They blow

  by you.

  In a show of

  spray

  and sun gleam.

  Rushing

  unstoppably.

  And you

  can’t

  catch

  up.

  That’s where

  Sam and I

  are.

  13

  Sam, the Arsonist

  Sam has hair

  that,

  if it were

  a temperature

  instead of

  a color,

  would be

  boiling.

  Which fits

  with his love

  of fire.

  He keeps a

  purple lighter

  in his

  pocket.

  He’s always

  playing

  with it,

  even though

  he doesn’t

  smoke.

  “Anxiety,”

  he says.

  The flame

  puts him in

  a calming trance.

  He’s best known

  in town

  14

  for burning down

  his neighbor’s

  shed.

  Stray

  homemade firework

  one

  Independence Day.

  His parents

  were

  away.

  I’m not sure

  who started it.

  But, since then,

  folks here

  call him

  “Arsonist Sam.”

  Or just

  “Arsam”

  for short.

  It may be

  a small dairy

  and lumber town.

  No

  art gallery

  or theater in sight.

  But I guess

  we’re not

  completely

  without

  creativity.

  I was

  the first

  to see

  15

  the

  backyard blaze.

  I ran,

  panting.

  Sam

  was

  staring

  at the colors

  in awe.

  “Are you crazy?”

  I screamed.

  That broke

  whatever

  red-orange

  spell

  had

  bewitched

  his mind.

  He

  looked at me

  slowly.

  A

  fire of

  his own

  glowed

  within

  his eyes.

  It had been

  an accident,

  sure.

  16

  But he

  wasn’t

  terrified.

  He almost

  seemed

  excited

  about the

  consequence.

  “Yeah,

  probably,”

  he said.

  “But

  not as

  crazy

  as

  my parents

  will

  be.”

  The fire

  in his eyes

  blazed.

  “At least now

  they’ll have

  to notice me.”

  I grabbed

  the hose.

  Sprayed

  the flames

  licking

  the side of

  17

  the shed.

  Like waves

  lapping

  the side of

  my boat.

  He made

  no move

  to help.

  Then,

  once the only

  colors

  left on

  the roof

  were

  black soot

  and

  white ash,

  I turned the hose

  on Sam.

  And soaked

  every

  last

  inch

  of him.

  “You have

  so much

  heat

  inside you,

  you’re going to

  burn up

  one day if

  18

  you’re not

  careful.”

  For a second

  he looked like

  he might kill me

  then and there.

  But the anger

  in his face

  melted to

  a sly

  sort of

  respect.

  “What did you say

  your name was?”

  That’s when

  a friendship

  was born

  out of the balance

  of a natural truth:

  Water

  puts out fire.

  19

  Water Dream #1

  The night

  before

  the first day

  of junior year,

  I have a

  water dream.

  They come

  and go.

  Usually

  to tell me

  something

  important.

  The lens of

  my sight is

  aqua and

  cloudy.

  Just above

  the river bottom.

  The fish are

  streamlining

  through the current.

&
nbsp; But then

  they start to

  act strange.

  Squirming

  and darting.

  20

  Out of

  nowhere,

  I drift

  straight into

  a deposit

  of dirt

  and

  a fallen tree.

  There’s

  no way

  around or

  under it.

  I’m

  tangled up

  in the roots.

  I go

  deeper

  and deeper

  into

  the twisted mess

  of branches

  and weeds

  the more

  I struggle.

  I wake up

  cold

  and

  clammy.

  Something

  is

  coming.

  21

  An Entrance

  We’ve

  only gotten

  through

  first period

  when Sam

  finds me

  in the

  hallway.

  He reaches

  into his

  coat pocket.

  I can tell

  he’s fiddling

  with the lighter,

  which he could

  get suspended

  for carrying.

  His eyes are

  flickering

  like a

  match.

  “Have you

  seen the

  new kid?”

  22

  He doesn’t

  have to

  explain

  much further.

  Because

  in a minute,

  I see

  him.

  And know

  instantly

  that

  this

  is who

  everyone

  is

  whispering

  about.

  23

  An Impression

  First of all,

  he doesn’t

  walk.

  He strides.

  Dark curls fall

  across his forehead

  with grace.

  As much

  as the

  sheer purple scarf

  with glittering

  silver moons

  beaming from

  shoulder to

  shoulder.

  He wears a

  black turtleneck,

  straight cut jeans,

  and heeled boots.

  I swear

  you’d be able

  to hear them

  from

  the other end

  of the hallway.

  Even if

  the other students

  hadn’t gone

  24

  suddenly

  mute.

  A perfectly

  arched

  eyebrow

  curves

  like

  a smirk.

  Into

  a dainty

  metal hoop.

  Beneath,

  eyes greener

  than

  grass

  catch mine

  for

  an instant.

  And

  he

  passes

  by.

  One thing

  is

  for sure.

  Whoever

  he is,

  he’s

  not

  from

  here.

  25

  Detailed Reports

  Rumors

  circulate

 
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