I jingled the car keys, tossed them up and caught them, ran my finger over the bumpy silver chain. There’s something about having car keys in your hand. All you have to do is slip the key into the ignition, turn it, and you’re in charge. Speed, direction, final destination—you get to decide. But you have to be sixteen. Almost thirteen doesn’t cut it.
So I couldn’t start the car, but I could blow the horn. I did—loud and angry. Mom stuck her head out the front door. "Vicki back?" she asked.
"No, she isn’t. And neither is Josh. What’s with this family? We were supposed to leave an hour ago."
"A half hour. They’ll be here. Is the car all packed?"
She was trying to change the subject, so I ignored the question. "Why don’t we call Josh home, and as soon as he gets here, we all wait in the car? Then when Vicki gets dropped off, we can just start up and leave." Okay, so that was a dumb suggestion, but she could have answered me. Instead she gave me the Look—I think the Look is the first thing teachers learn in college—and
went back in. Grumbling to myself, I opened the car door and slid into the driver’s seat. I sat there with my eyes closed, imagining I was in one of those new passenger vans instead of our ’69 wagon. I shouldn’t have had to imagine.
Dad always said a car’s got only five good years, and then you should trade it in. So, ’69 to ’74—that’s five years, right? But Dad was gone. Long gone. No Dad, no new car. On Valentine’s Day—how’s that for timing?—he’d kissed Mom and the girls good-bye, hugged Josh and me, and said he hoped he’d be back soon. He had to "think things out." Well, he could think all he wanted. He could stay away forever, as far as I was concerned.
Excerpted from Kyle's Island by Sally Derby. Copyright © 2014 by Sally Derby (Author). Excerpted by permission of Charlesbridge, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.