I am thrilled to present this amazing guest post in four parts by author, Jim Denney, of the Timebenders series. I became friends with Jim on Twitter, my son has read (LOVED!) the first book in his series, Battle Before Time, and Jim thinks the world of Judy Blume, and our little #JudyBlumeProject (GAH!). As a MG author himself, he thinks so much of Judy Blume, that among his many projects, he took time out to write and share this riveting story, Martian Girl, with US! GRATEFUL!
I'm certain you'll enjoy this ode to seemingly everyone's favorite, Judy's Margaret. Check out our Facebook page, we now have a PROJECT PAGE, and you'll see that nearly every post to date includes AYTGIMM among the most meaningful and life-affirming of Judy Blume's prolific works for generations of tween girls during the angst-ridden onset of puberty. And rightly so. I hope this shows that any manner of respect you'd like to pay to Judy will be considered, and I hope this will inspire more men (young or young at heart) to contribute their thoughts and memories to our wonderful little project that one day hopes to be published as an anthology to honor our Judy.
Without further ado, I'm thrilled to present...drum roll....
BY JIM DENNEY
Part Four: Mad, Sad, Mad, Sad
I woke up and heard alarms going off. I don't know what's happening, but Dad left our cabin to find out. I'm huddled under my covers, talking to you on my Amulet. I wish they'd turn off those horrible alarms.
All kinds of thoughts go through my head. Is there a fire? Did something go wrong with the Ares? Are we losing power? Are we leaking air? Are we going to die here in space?
Dad just came in.
I'll see what he found out.
Oh no. Oh no.
Please, God, no.
Don't let it be--
Dad came back and said that something happened to one of the passenger sections. He called it "explosive decompression." A whole passenger section just split open and all the air blew out. It might have been a meteor strike. Or maybe the hull just failed. They think everybody inside was killed—two hundred people.
Mom said, "Oh, how awful!"
I asked Dad what settlement the people were going to.
He said, "Why do you ask?"
"I just want to know."
He said, "They were going to the Pacifica settlement. What's wrong? What are you crying about? You didn't know any of those people."
I said, "I'm going to the library." And I ran out.
Oh no, oh no, oh God, please don't let it be Salvino.
The whole time I was running to the library, I tried to call him on my Amulet. He didn't answer.
Now I'm sitting here in the library all by myself.
Please, God, let Salvino walk through that door. Please, let me see him again.
Please, God, let him be okay.
Please, please, please.
I don't know what to say, God.
I don't know what to think.
I don't know what to feel.
I made one friend on this trip, and now he's gone.
His name is on the list of the "missing." It's been two waking periods and a sleep period, and he hasn't called me. I know he's not "missing," God. I know he's gone.
I keep looking at the picture of him, the one I took after I hugged him. I look at his grin and his dark, smiling eyes. I want him to be alive again. I want to read to him again, and I want him to read to me.
Why did you let it happen, God?
I believed in you.
I'm sorry, but I've decided I don't believe in you anymore.
Here's the thing: If I believe in you, then I have to be mad at you for letting Salvino die. I'd rather not believe in you than be mad at you.
Dad's right. I have to quit talking to you. I'll miss talking to you, God, but I just can't do this anymore. I thought you were my friend, but you let me down. And you let Salvino down, because he believed in you, too.
Please don't think I'm mad at you, God. Really, I'm not mad. I'm just very disappointed. So I've decided you don't exist.
If I'm wrong and you really do exist, I hope you won't be mad at me. Try to understand it from my point of view. Try to understand how much it hurts when someone you really, really care about dies.
I have to go now.
Hello, God, it's me, Zandria. Remember me?
I wouldn't blame you if you forgot who I am. It's been a long time since I talked to you. More than a hundred days, I think. And last time I talked to you, I said goodbye forever. And I meant it.
But I've been wondering about something. I keep thinking about what Salvino's mother told him before she died: "A soul that loves God is never lost."
I want to believe it, but I'm not sure if it's true or not.
I wish I could feel your voice in my heart, the way Salvino felt his mother's voice. Sometimes, I think maybe I do, but I'm not sure. Sometimes I think I feel a voice that tells me everything is going to be okay. Is that your voice?
Is it true, God, that a soul that loves you is never lost? If it's true, God, could you help me to feel it? Could you help me know it?
Hello, God. It's me, Zandria—the loneliest girl in the universe.
It's been a week since I talked to you last. I haven't felt like talking to you.
Some days I'm mad at you. Some days I'm sad because I miss Salvino. I never have days where I'm just normal and happy. Mad, sad, mad, sad—ugh! I'm sick of those feelings!
We're getting close to Mars, God. Dad says the next two weeks will be very busy. We have to go through some sort of training for when they drop us down to the surface. I may not have much time to talk to you until we're down on Mars.
If anything goes wrong, and I die on the way down, would you do me a favor? Would you please take care of my soul? Would you let me see Salvino again? There's a lot I never got to say to him.
One more thing, God--
I mostly believe in you again, if that helps any.
Well, God, I made it to Mars.
That's right, it's me, Zandria—Martian girl. I'm talking to you from a tunnel deep under the surface of the Red Planet.
The trip down from orbit was even scarier than they said it would be. It was noisy and the landing capsule seemed like it would shake itself to pieces and burn up. I really thought I was going to die this time.
We landed hard, but we all survived.
Mom and Dad and I are in the Utopia settlement. Everything's crowded and cramped compared to Earth, but very roomy compared to our tiny cabin on the Ares.
I have chores to do, helping take care of the hydroponics garden. And I have schoolwork to keep me busy.
This is my home now. I'm a Martian, just like Salvino said.
Oh, no. I'm starting to cry again. Sorry. Just saying his name makes me miss him. I still don't know why you let him die, God, but I've decided that what his mom said is true: A soul that loves you is never lost.
So I've decided to love you, even though at times it's not easy.
Today, in the garden, I was humming that song Salvino taught me. It helps me feel close to him--
The water is wide, I can't cross over.
And neither have I wings to fly.
Give me a boat that can carry two,
And both shall row, my love and I.
Well, that's all for now, God. Talk to you soon.
__________________________ The End ... or is it ... just the beginning ...? ____________________________
Jim Denney is the author of Writing in Overdrive: Write Faster, Write Freely, Write Brilliantly. He has written more than 100 books, including the Timebenders science fantasy adventure series for young readers--Battle Before Time, Doorway to Doom, Invasion of the Time Troopers, and Lost in Cydonia. He is also the co-writer with Pat Williams (co-founder of the Orlando Magic) of Leadership Excellence and The Difference You Make. Jim is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Follow Jim on Twitter at @WriterJimDenney.
Thanks to YOU for following along, and again to author, Jim Denney, for his generous and entertaining contribution to the #JudyBlumeProject. I think it's wonderful that he delivered this story from the female perspective for our project. Timebenders #1 was an excellent choice for my reluctant 4th grade reader (his first on a tablet, which he was also reluctant about).
Be sure to follow Jim to see whether 'Martian Girl' becomes his next big middle grade sci fi adventure series!
It also bears mentioning that the #JudyBlumeProject has enjoyed fabulous support on Twitter from @TigerEyesMovie, Judy's and son, Lawrence Blume's first ever MOVIE(!) based on the Judy Blume novel, Tiger Eyes. We are so grateful for their shares, retweets, and the heads up they've given us on some wonderful posts we hope to include in the #JudyBlumeProject. SEE THE MOVIE-->, give them a follow and please help spread the word.
| || || |