“Wren . . . “
My name is floating around me. Bouncing on the clouds in my mind.
“Wren . . . . Wake up, Wren.”
Everything’s cocoon-y. Drifty. The clouds are so soft.
“Wren, come on. It’s time to go.”
Go? Go where? Who said that? I don’t recognize his voice. I look around my cloud, but it’s dark. Like a storm is coming.
Then thunder begins to roll. “Wren!”
I pull in, hunker down. Why is he on my cloud? “Go away,” I mumble through the rocks in my mouth. I need a drink. Maybe if I licked the cloud . . .
“She’s totally wasted, Mom.”
Wait. That was Anabella. What’s she doing on my cloud?
She was definitely not invited.
I can’t see her either, though. And now the cloud is rocking. Rocking and spinning.
“Go back to bed,” my mother hisses.
My mother? No! Not her, too!
A new voice drifts through the darkness. A small, sleepy voice. “What’s going on?”
It’s Mo! My little buddy, my Mowgli, my Mo-bro! He can be on my cloud. Anytime! But . . . no . . . wait. First I have to hide some things. Quick. I need to hide some things.
“Take Morris and get back to bed!” my mother hisses.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this,” Anabella says.
“Take your brother and go!” my father commands.
Why am I even on this cloud? It’s so crowded now. And dark. And rolling with thunder.
“Wren! Wake up!”
Who is that?
Light stabs my eyes as I peel them open. A man comes into focus. He’s large. Standing over me. Wearing dark blue. With gold embroidered shoulder patches.
A . . . a cop?
I sit up a little.
Yes, a cop.
He starts swaying. But . . . no, it’s not him swaying. It’s me. Or my bed. I grab for my trashcan and puke.
My mind runs to Nico as my guts come up. Did he get busted? Is that why there’s a cop here? Did they connect the dots?
I try to play it cool as I wipe off my mouth. “Sorry. Flu.”
That line’s always worked before. But this is a cop, not my parents. And he’s got that look.
He’s not buying.
The clock digits are a bloody red. 3:47 AM. “What happened?” I ask my doorway parents. “Why is he here?”
“It’s for your own good,” my father says. His voice sounds icy. Hard. A freezer door slamming shut.
“Can you walk?” the cop asks.
I muster a sneer. “Of course I can walk!”
“Then get up and get dressed.” He hands me some clothes. “You’re coming with me.”
“What? Why?” I look over, and one of my doorway parents has disappeared. “Mom!” I call. I can hear her crying her way down the hall. “Mom! What is going on!”
She doesn’t answer me. Nobody answers me. I’m shaky and cold and my head is pounding. There are handcuffs on the cop’s belt. I’ve heard they hurt, so I pull on my jeans and hoodie. I feel haphazard. On the verge of puking again. And then I notice that my phone’s gone.
Full-on panic floods over me. I scramble around inside the covers, under my pillow.
“We’ve got your phone,” my father says.
I am so busted.
“Use the bathroom,” the cop tells me. “You’ll be in the car a while.”
When I come out, my father hands a duffle to the cop and turns to me. His lips are tight white threads across his face. “We’ve tried everything, Wren.”
“So you’re turning me over to the cops? MOM!” I scream over him. “MOM!”
The cop grips my arm and when I struggle to get free he wrestles me down the hallway. I can hear my mother crying in the kitchen. “MOM!” I shriek. “WHAT IS GOING ON? HELP ME!”
My brother’s voice seeps through Anabella’s door, high-pitched and desperate. “We have to help Wren!”
“Mowgli!” I scream. “Mo-bro, help me!”
“Are you really that selfish?” my dad says, anger seething through his lips.
“Why are you doing this to me?” I ask him, and now I’m crying.
“Because we’re at our wits’ end,” my father says. “We’ve run out of options.”
Then the cop’s saying, “We’ll be in touch, Mr. Clemmens,” and I’m being hauled outside.
“DADDY, PLEASE!” I cry.
The door closes in my face.
“I’LL BE BETTER! I PROMISE!”
But I’m talking to wood.
Dead, heartless wood.
Most synopses/reviews of Wild Bird center around Wren being sent against her will to a desert camp for troubled teens and what she has to do to survive. But that's just the setting. The set up. The purpose of the story is to help the reader see that their future is shaped starting now; that it's time to figure out who they want to be. Because everything else--good friendships, true love, career success, a charitable heart, happiness--everything else is the result of figuring that out.
The purpose of Wild Bird is to help teens find courage to be themselves, and fly.
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