Sample text for Lena / Jacqueline Woodson.

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Counter An Excerpt from Lena:

        "You crying, Lena?" I felt Dion's little hand on my shoulder.

        "What would I be crying for?" I gave my eyes one more wipe and glared
        at her.

        Dion shrugged. She took a step back from me, hunkered down on her own
        knapsack. We must have been a sight--two kids in flannel shirts and jeans
        and hiking boots at a Trailways station--Dion chewing on her collar, me
        with my head in my hands.

        She swallowed like she was a little bit scared of what she was gonna say.

        "Where we going, Lena? You tell me that and I won't ask you anything else--ever
        again if you don't want me to."

        People on the outside who didn't understand would probably look at me
        and Dion and say, "Those kids running away from home." But I knew we were
        running to something. And to someplace far away from Daddy. Someplace
        safe. That's where we were going.

        "Mama's house," I whispered, my voice coming out hoarse and shaky. "We
        going to Mama's house."

        Dion shook her head. "Not the lies we tell people--the true thing. Where
        we going for real?"

        "Mama's house," I said again, looking away from her.

        "Lena?" Dion said "Mama's . . . dead." . . .
        ". . .I know she's dead. I didn't say we were going to her. I said we
        were going to her house."

        "And what's gonna happen when we get there?"

        "You said you wasn't gonna ask no more questions, Dion."

        Dion nodded and pulled her book out of her knapsack. I took a box of colored
        pencils out of mine and the brown paper bag our sandwiches had come in
        and started sketching. I sketched the cornfields across the way from us
        and a blue car moving in front of them. I sketched the sky with the pink
        still in it and Dion sitting on her knapsack reading. Maybe we sat there
        an hour. Maybe two or three...We'd learned how to make ourselves invisible.


Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Runaways Fiction, Sisters Fiction