A New Kind of Freedom

by Claire HB, age 11
A New Kind of Freedom Claire is an 11-year-old who lives in Park Slope. She enjoys soccer, soccer, and more soccer. She also really likes reading and writing realistic fiction.

“We will need about a kajillion ACs and fans. I’m actually kind of sad. Before I know it, tears are streaming down my cheeks. I know it sounds silly, crying over giving away some old pants, but, for some reason, it’s making me really emotional.”

Hi. My name is Ellie-Mae. I am moving from freezing Minnesota to boiling Florida. I am not ready. The whole reason I have to move is because of my mom’s stupid new job. At the moment, I am throwing out out all my pants, long sleeved shirts, and coats. Now I have to buy a ton of shorts and sun hats and sunscreen and popsicles and flip flops and I think I’m losing my mind. I am putting everything into giant garbage bags and in half an hour, we’re taking it to goodwill.

“EM? Where are you?” yells my mom. Sometimes she calls me EM just to save time.

“Right here mom,” I yell back.

“Ellie, we’re leaving in half an hour!” she says, entering my room. “Ellie, stop dawdling, we have to leave!!”

“I know, Mom. You’ve only told me, like, a million times,” I say back. “Also, I’m not dawdling.” I can’t believe she is doing this. She is making me move away from everything I’ve ever known, and now, she is lecturing me for dawdling. Really, mom?

I hear a cry from the next room. “Momma, Holly took my toy again!!” Oh great. It’s the littlies. Holly and Joy are six year old twins, and they are identical in looks, but in nothing else. Joy is a spunky, adventurous daredevil, while Holly is forever cautious, except about stealing everything of Joy’s. They are so annoying. I however, am 12, nowhere near six. I just don’t get them. They act like everything is such a big deal.

Hey, wait a minute. I run into their room. “Aren’t you guys supposed to be packing up your toys?”

Joy puts on her cute face and cute voice. “I sowwy, Ewwie. I didn’t mean too. They just looked like,” she sniffs, “so much fun.”

“OK, fiiine,” I say. Even though the twins are annoying, they are still so cute. They both have streaky blonde hair, like I used to. (Now I have brown) They also have these beautiful blue eyes. Mine are just hazel.

A few hours later…

All my stuff is gone. Everything. Everything for weather under 50 degrees. No more hoodies, or sweatpants. No more winter boots, or winter hats. No more fuzzy fleeces, or heaters. We will need about a kajillion ACs and fans. I’m actually kind of sad. Before I know it, tears are streaming down my cheeks. I know it sounds silly, crying over giving away some old pants, but, for some reason, it’s making me really emotional. Oh well. I guess I’ll just try to get some sleep. After all, it is 11pm and I have to get up early to pack more.

“Ellie-Mae Rose Davis!!! Get up!!!” That’s what I woke up to this morning.

“Yeah, Mom, I overslept. What’s the big deal?!” I responded, because she oversleeps all the time.

“Ellie, it’s 1 o’clock!!!” she said. So now I am rushing to pack up all my books before the van comes at 1:45.

Finally, I’m done. Now I’m gonna go check on the twins juuuuust in case. I open up my door, and march into the twins room. Sure enough, they are sitting on their beds not packing at all. 

“Hey guys, come on, you know what—Joy?” Joy is crying. That’s not like her at all.

I sit on her bed. “Joy, what happened?” I say in my most gentle voice possible. It’s not gentle enough. She grouches.

“Why do you want to know?” Man. I thought I was being gentle.

“Hmmph,” I hmmph and walk away. I go over to Holly. “Holly, what happened to Joy?” I say to her.

“I don’t know!! She just started crying out of nowhere!!” Holly responds. Oh well, I think. I’ll get to this later. We’re moving tomorrow. That’s what I should worry about. I go back into my room, and keep packing up my books. 

OK, so it’s four am and moving day. The twenty six hour drive is straight ahead. Luckily, nobody in our family gets carsick, so we won’t have to do a barf stop an hour in. We are leaving at four so we can get as much driving time as possible. We get in the car. It’s a seven seater, even though we only have four people in our family. My mom in the front, me in the middle row, and the twins in the back. That means I get a big comfy seat to myself. That’s good because it’s such a long car ride. I have my snack bag, with cheetos, chex mix, string cheese, oreos, goldfish, bunny grahams, and more. I get hungry fast. That is why I have so much food. I also have my phone with Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen on it. It’s really all I listen to. If you haven’t listened to those musicals, you really should. They are great for car rides. OK, onward. We buckle in, and zoom off. 

Not five minutes into the ride, Holly says, “Mommy?”

“Yes Holly?”

“Um, I forgot to use the bathroom,” she responds.

My mom pulls over into a gas station. “Go quickly,” she says.

And Holly does not. It’s been seven minutes now. My mom tells us to go in with her. We go in, and Holly is standing in front of the bathroom door.

She says, “I’ve been waiting for them to come out!!”

“Oh Holly!” my mom says. “You’re supposed to ask the employee for the key!! I thought you knew! Come on, let’s go.” My mom goes and asks the cashier for the key. He gives it to her and my mom unlocks the door. Holly goes and comes out.

“Okay, let’s go now,” I yell. We get back in the car and start driving again. I eat my cheez-its. I listen to Dear Evan Hansen. I listen to Hamilton. I listen to Dear Evan Hansen. It gets stuck in my head. Joy hits Holly. Holly hits Joy. Holly cries while Joy hits her again. Ugh. I turn my music up louder. I fall asleep. I wake up and it is 3pm. Wow, I slept a lot. Hamilton is still blasting in my ears. It’s hard to believe how I fell asleep listening to that. I look back and the twins are sleeping. Aww, how cute. Holly is sleeping on Joy’s shoulder. Ooh, Sincerely Me is coming on. (If you didn’t already know, it’s a song from Dear Evan Hansen that’s really funny.) 

One week later…

I am starting school tomorrow!!! Aah!! I have all my stuff. Composition notebooks. Graph paper. A calculator. I think I will be ready. The twins start school too. 1st grade. I know Joy is excited, but I’m not sure about Holly. She’s much more sensitive. I hope to make some friends. So, let’s go!!

Today’s the big day. School! I jump in the car, with my new striped backpack and buckle in. We’re off! It is a short drive, only about 10 minutes. I step out, and the new school is huge! Four stories, and a big grass lawn. It looks very modern, mostly made of blue glass. I cannot believe how big it is. Okay, breathe, Ellie, breathe. I walk in and the hallways are filled with people.

Someone pushes me from behind and says, “Newbie.”

I walk into my classroom and every single person is tan. Tan, tan, tan. Some may be spray tans, but for the most part, natural. While I look like an albino polar bear in the snow. The teacher takes attendance. Emma? Noah? Sophia? Ellie Mae?

“Here,” I say. Everyone starts looking at me.

“Thank you Ellie Mae,” the teacher says, “but next time, you can just raise your hand.” 

Oh no. I’ve already messed up, and it’s not even lunch yet. I hear snickering in the background. Oh, good. It’s time for lunch. No wait. Not good. Not good at all. I won’t have anyone to sit with. Shoot. Maybe I’ll eat in the bathroom like in movies. That’ll really boost my social confidence. The girl who eats in the bathroom. Great. Perfect for my resume. The bell rings. Everyone runs out of the room. Everyone but me. I walk slowly out of the room.

As I’m walking around the school, I see a poster for one free sailing class. Hm. That actually sounds really fun. In Minnesota, nobody sailed at all. I haven’t even seen an ocean yet.

I text my mom and say, “Free sailing class 2 go 2. Can I go? It’s on Sep 12.”

She almost immediately texts back, “Sure. Also numbers are not words.” Yes! I might find something I actually like here in muggy Florida. 

It’s time. September 12th. My first ever sailing class. I’m in my new glittery bikini that I bought just for this. I walk towards the boat dock and I see a girl in the exact same swimsuit!! We both laugh and point at each other. I can’t believe we bought the same thing!! This is hilarious. We start talking and I figured out that her name is Juniper, and she’s lived in Florida her entire life. She told me that she could show me around. Oh my god, this is great!! I think I made a friend. I’m not sure yet, but I think I did. There are three other girls there, all in matching swimsuits with polka dots. I decide to call them the polka dot girls. There are also two boys who are in swim trunks. The instructor comes out, and she looks like she is about eighteen. 

She says, “Okay guys, I am your instructor, Jaylee, and I will teach you the basics of sailing. The number one thing is don’t get hit with the boom! The boom is the bottom part of the sail and it is strong enough to knock you off the boat, which we don’t want happening. The water is cold. So, let’s get started, shall we? First up we have, uh, Nicholas.” One of the boys stands up and goes over to Jaylee. I can see that she is telling him how to control the boat, but I can’t hear what she is saying. He goes out on his own after about 15 minutes, and slowly navigates the boat in a small circle. 

“Umm, Kacy?” Jaylee says. One of the polka dots gets up. She falls in while trying to dance on the boat. “Maisie?” Another polka dot. Maisie doesn’t fall in, but she decides that she doesn’t want to go out alone and Jaylee basically does it for her. “John?” 

“Can you call me Jack?” he asks. 

“Ok, Jack, it’s your turn,” says Jaylee. He navigates the boat very well. It’s Juniper’s turn now. 

“Good luck,” I whisper. She does okay. Jaylee has to yell out a couple instructions. Now it’s Chelsea, the last polka dottie. She also falls in. Finally, it’s my turn.

Jaylee whispers, “I’ve got a good feeling about you.” She explains everything to me, and then, I do it. I turn the rudder, I avoid the boom. I think I did everything almost perfect. I steer the boat back to shore and Jaylee hugs me.

“You did so well!!” she cries, “I knew it.” I am just in awe. It was really fun. I can’t believe I had done so well. I now know what I want to do. I want to sail.


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