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By Margaret Peterson Haddix

So my merely defense is a kindergarten instructor and a ninety-eight-pound girl minister....And they do not even think i am in danger.

As Bethany methods her 13th birthday, her mom and dad act extra oddly than ordinary. Her mom cries regularly, and her father slightly we could Bethany out of his sight. Then one morning he hustles the full kinfolk into the auto, drives throughout numerous country strains -- and leaves Bethany with an aunt she by no means knew existed. Bethany has no concept what is going on. She's nervous her ma and pa are working from a few type of difficulty, yet she cannot discover simply because they may not inform her the place they're going.

Bethany's simply clue is some phrases she overheard her father inform her aunt: "She does not recognize whatever approximately Elizabeth." yet Aunt Myrlie will not inform Bethany who Elizabeth is, and she or he will not clarify why humans in her small city react to Bethany as though they have visible a ghost. The secret intensifies while Bethany will get a package deal from her father containing 4 assorted start certificate from 4 various states, with 4 assorted final names -- and hundreds of thousands of bucks in funds. And while an odd guy indicates up asking questions, Bethany realizes the's no longer the single one who is desirous to get to the bottom of the secrets and techniques of her prior.

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Myrlie does a double take. “You like swimming? ” she asks incredulously, as though I’ve introduced that i need to head skydiving or bungee-jumping. “I’m on a swim team,” I say. “If i am getting off form, it could actually spoil my occasions for the total season. ” trainer Dinkle will be happy with my commitment, yet it’s probably not my occasions I’m nervous approximately. I simply have to be in water without delay. I’ve by no means attempted to provide an explanation for this sense to anyone, now not even the opposite little ones on my swim staff, who are usually as obsessed approximately instances and private bests as trainer Dinkle is. yet it’s varied for me. i will be able to take into account the 1st time my mom and dad took me to a swimming pool. i used to be 3 years outdated. mum and dad stood within the shallow finish with me, their legs forming a protecting circle round me so not one of the different little children might splash me. yet anything happened—maybe I slipped, might be a bit wave made it earlier the barrier in their our bodies and knocked me down. anyways, my face slid below. surprisingly, I wasn’t scared. I didn’t try and gulp in air—maybe I’d simply taken an important breath already, accidentally. So I opened my eyes vast and flippantly appeared round. The underwater global thrilled me: the refraction of solar within the water currents, the crispness of the colours, the distortion of sound, the way in which each stream in sluggish movement. I felt like I’d came across a brand new universe, the single the place i really belonged. My father plucked me out of the water and instantly begun attempting to soothe me: “There, there, Daddy won’t enable that undesirable outdated water get you. You’re okay—” I driven him away. “Again! back! ” I cried, attempting to dive down out of his palms. mum and dad stared at me in astonishment, kind of an analogous means Myrlie used to be watching me now. i started howling, and not anything may fulfill me until eventually they allow me plunge backpedal into the water. that point I did choke a bit at the water, yet I didn’t care. I surfaced back in simple terms lengthy sufficient to get air. “What if she drowns? ” I consider mother asking in a quavery voice. “I wager we’ll simply need to train her approximately preserving her breath,” Dad stated, his voice cracking with amazement. all of the method domestic from the pool that day, I chanted in a singsongy voice, “I’m a mermaid, I’m a mermaid, I’m a mermaid…. ” I take into account this quite often a result of manner my mom and dad sat so silently within the entrance seat of the auto. They didn’t retain turning round to grin at me, the best way and they did while I sang within the backseat. Had they sought after me to be frightened of the water? It most likely didn’t support that I saved nagging them to return to the pool after that—nagged and begged and pleaded until eventually i used to be signed up for my first swimming lesson, just a week or so later. no matter if they hadn’t sought after me to swim, they hadn’t been in a position to refuse me. From Myrlie’s expression now, although, I’m form of looking forward to her to inform me no. “You’d want an indoor pool, this time of year,” she says doubtfully. “I wager there’s one on the Y, yet I’m no longer a member. enable me cost their visitor guidelines. ” She stands up and heads for the telephone within the kitchen. I persist with her simply because I don’t recognize what else to do.

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