Sample text for Island boyz : short stories / Graham Salisbury.


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Counter Vinny turned away and swam back over to the other side of the pond, where he'd first gotten in. His mother would kill him if she ever heard about where he'd come. After the boy drowned, or was taken by the goddess, or whatever happened to him, she said never to come to this pond again. Ever. It was off-limits. Permanently.

But not his dad. He said, "You fall off a horse, you get back on, right? Or else you going be scared of it all your life."

His mother scoffed and waved him off. "Don't listen to him, Vinny, listen to me. Don't go there. That pond is haunted." Which had made his dad laugh.

But Vinny promised he'd stay away.

But then Starlene and Joe-Boy said, "Come with us anyway. You let your mommy run your life, or what?" And Vinny said, "But what if I get caught?" And Joe-Boy said, "So?"

Vinny mashed his lips. He was so weak. Couldn't even say no. But if he'd said, "I can't go, my mother won't like it," they would have laughed him right off the island. He had to go. No choice.

So far it was fine. He'd even gone in the water. Everyone was happy. All he had to do now was wait it out and go home and hope his mother never heard about it.

When lie looked up, Starlene was gone.

He glanced around the pond until he spotted her starting up the zigzag trail to the fifty-foot ledge. She was moving slowly, hanging on to roots and branches on the upside of the cliff. He couldn't believe she was going there. He wanted to yell, "Hey, Starlene, that's where he died!"

But she already knew that.

Mo jumped from the lower ledge, yelling "Banzaiiii!" An explosion of coffee-colored water erupted when he hit.

Joe-Boy swam over to where Starlene had gotten out. He waved to Vinny, grinning like a fool, then followed Starlene up the zigzag trail.

Now Starlene was twenty-five, thirty feet up. Vinny watched her for a while, then lost sight of her when she slipped behind a wall of jungle that blocked his view. A few minutes later she popped back out, now almost at the top where the trail ended, where there was nothing but mud and a few plants to grab on to if you slipped, plants that would rip right out of the ground, plants that wouldn't stop you if you fell, nothing but your screams between you and the rocks below.

Just watching her, Vinny felt his stomach tingle. He couldn't imagine what it must feel like to be up there, especially if you were afraid of heights, like he was. She has no fear, Vinny thought, no fear at all. Pleasepleaseplease, Starlene. I don't want to see you die.

Starlene crept forward, making her way to the end of the trail where the small ledge was.

Joe-Boy popped out of the jungle behind her. He stopped, waiting for her to jump before going on.

Vinny held his breath.

Starlene, in her cutoff jeans and soaked T-shirt, stood perfectly still, her arms at her side. Vinny suddenly felt like hugging her. Why, he couldn't tell. Starlene, please.
She reached behind her and took a wide leaf from a plant, then eased down and scooped up a finger of mud. She made a brown cross on her forehead, then wiped her muddy fingers on her jeans.

She waited.

Was she thinking about the dead boy?

She stuck the stem end of the leaf in her mouth, leaving the rest of it to hang out. When she jumped, the leaf would flap up and cover her nose and keep water from rushing into it. An old island trick.

She jumped.

Down, down.

Almost in slow motion, it seemed at first, then faster and faster. She fell feet first, arms flapping to keep balance so she wouldn't land on her back or stomach, which would probably almost kill her.

just before she hit, she crossed her arms over her chest and vanished within a small explosion of rusty water.

Vinny stood, not breathing at all, praying.

Ten seconds. Twenty, thirty ...

She came back up, laughing.

She shouldn't make fun that way, Vinny thought. it was asking for it.

Vinny looked up when he heard Joe-Boy shout, "Hey, Vinny, watch how a man does it! Look!"

Joe-Boy scooped up some mud and made a bolt of lightning across his chest. When he jumped, he threw himself out, face and body parallel to the pond, his arms and legs spread out. He's crazy, Vinny thought, absolutely insane. At the last second, Joe-Boy folded into a ball and hit. Ca-roomp! He came up whooping and yelling, Wboo! So good! Come on, Vinny, it's hot"'

Vinny faked a laugh. He waved, shouting, "Nah, the water's too coldr,

Now Mo was heading up the zigzag trail, Mo who hardly ever said a word and would do anything anyone ever challenged him to do. Come on, Mo, not you, too. Vinny knew then that he would have to jump.

jump, or never live it down..

Mo jumped in the same way Joe-Boy had, manstyle, splayed out in a suicide fall. He came up grinning.

Starlene and Joe-Boy turned toward Vinny.

Vinny got up and hiked around the edge of the pond, walking in the muddy shallows, looking at a school of small brown-back fish near a ginger patch.

Maybe they'd forget about him.'

Starlene torpedoed over, swimming under water. Her body gliqered in the small amount of sunlight that penetrated the trees around the rim of the ravine. When she came up, she broke the surface smoothly, gracefully, like a swan. Her blond hair sleeked back like river grass.

She smiled a sweet smile. "Joe-Boy says you're afraid to jump. I didn't believe him. He's wrong, right?"

Vinny said quickly, "Of course he's wrong. I just don't want to, that's all. The water's cold."

"Nah, it's nice."

Vinny looked away. On the other side of the pond Joe-Boy and Mo were on the cliff behind the waterfall.

"Joe-Boy says your mom told you not to come here. Is that true?"

Vinny nodded. "Yeah. Stupid, but she thinks it's haunted."

"She's right."

"What?"

"That boy didn't die, Vinny. The stone goddess took him. He's in a good place right now. He's her prince."

Vinny scowled. He couldn't tell if Starlene was teasing him or if she really believed that. He said, "Yeah, prob'ly."

"Are you going to jump, or is Joe-Boy right?"

“ Joe-Boy's an idiot. Sure I'm going to jump."

Starlene grinned, staring at Vinny a little too long. "He is an idiot, isn't he? But I love him."

"Yeah, well. . . "

"Go to it, big boy. I'll be watching."

Starlene sank down and swam out into the pond.

Ca-ripes.

Vinny ripped a hank of white ginger from the ginger patch and smelled it and prayed he'd still be alive after the sun went down.

He took his time climbing the zigzag trail.

When he got to the part where the jungle hid him from view, he stopped and smelled the ginger again. So sweet and alive it made Vinny wish for all he was worth that he were climbing out of the ravine right now, heading home.

But of course, there was no way he could do that.

Not before jumping.


Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Hawaii Juvenile fiction, Hawaii Fiction, Short stories