From my view way up in the airplane, the bright Florida sun shone on tiny buildings and cars way down below. It probably looked like paradise.

How could I choose Florida over Ohio? I had lived there since I was born. And yet, here I was, on a plane, zooming to Coconut Cove with my family. As usual, I had little say in the matter of moving, and I probably wouldn't ever have one.

Pity I was never going to like this place-when I had my mind set on hating something, I would stick to hating it. Just like hating my sister. Well, I didn't hate her. I just hated the popular, 'Ehmagod I broke a nail!' girls she hung out with. There was a big contrast between my sister and I. She was the kind who screamed and ran out if she saw a tiny bug in the shower. I was the one who would take it out into the woods and let it go-and maybe have a wild, barefoot run there myself. Every morning, she woke up at 6 to put on makeup, even though we used to live a five-minute walk from school, which started at 8:15 AM. I woke up late and rarely brushed my hair-I never even wore shoes most of the time.

Speaking of my sister, I glanced over my shoulder. Finally she had taken a break from whining about how her makeup would melt in the humidity. I sighed and rubbed my temples. Stupid Florida. Stupid Coconut Cove. I closed my eyes and dreamed of Ohio.


"We're here!" Dad announced, pushing open the front door and turning to smile at us.

"Yeah, I finally get my own room!" I grinned at him. I got on much better with Dad than with Veronica or Mom. Dad was more casual, and didn't nag me about shoes or clothes.

I hopped up the stairs, my bag in tow. The moving company had already moved the boxes and furniture to the rooms. My room was the smallest, and the closest to the stairs. There was a huge window on the opposite side of the closet, and the walls had wooden built-in shelves. Flopping myself in front of the nearest box, I proceeded to dump everything on the floor and start from there. Clothes went in the closet, my books went on the shelf by the bed, and the shells, rocks, and feathers I had collected over the past few years lined the window and the shelf beside it.

I didn't have many things and was done quickly, unlike my sister, who was still probably organizing all her makeup in her drawer. Sprawling on my bed, I yawned and looked out the window. It was mainly just a view of the street, nothing special. But as I stood up and walked toward it, the faint outline of a forest came into view. A forest. So Florida wasn't all pavement and building. I tied my sweater around my waist and dashed down the stairs, yelling that I was going for a walk and exploring. Correction: a run.

I launched myself off the top step and landed lightly on my toes. The wind whistled by my ears, and my bare feet skimmed the pavement. Soon, they reached grass, and I gained speed as I cut across the sidewalk. My cramped legs stretched, and running was all I could do to refrain my overly energetic legs from turning cartwheels. Soon, I slowed down to a walk. The forest was visible through the houses, but I had to go across private property. Running too fast might have made me seem like I had just stolen something from one of the many houses that lined the main road.

The sunlight filtered brightly through the gaps in the leafy canopy. I had read about the Mother Paula thing on the newspaper, and heard about it on TV. Apparently it had happened right here in Coconut Cove, on the corner of Woodbury and East Oriole. Not that I knew where that was, anyway. I was a complete stranger in this new place. And I was never a stranger in Ohio. I had lived there for my entire fifteen years of life. Never would I get accustomed to this heat and humidity. I liked cold temperatures. Heat made my brain feel sluggish. But oh no, we just had to move to Florida.

I heard the sound of rushing water, and stepped out ankle deep into a creek. A pilothouse, probably of a very old boat, stuck out of the water. I couldn't see anything on the flat part of the old ship's pilothouse though. I checked the sky before wading into the water. Mom and Dad wouldn't be very happy if I didn't get home before dark. Not to mention all the references to how good and perfect a child Veronica was.

I grabbed the edge of the pilothouse with both hands, and easily swung myself over and onto the flat side of the ship. The problem was there was already someone there.