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A scared, 13 year old girl decides to take charge of her own life when it seems like there’s nothing left she can do. On her adventure, she recounts the many reasons why she’s left home and what she’s learnt in the beautiful wilderness.
This is a great book about overcoming your fears and making the right choices that will change your entire life.

Chapter 3

Don't Go Anywhere Without A Map

I walk out through the garage, pulling on my purple helmet and swinging a leg over my green, (hand-me-down from Lorna) too big bike. I ride in the direction of school for a while, until I’m out of sight from my house, which is a challenge seeing as our second-floor level has so many turrets, you can see half-way to the Samuel Champlain School. When I’m just crossing Centennial Street, I head west, away from my school. I travel in that direction, pedalling hard for around half an hour, when I get of my bike and take a swig from my water bottle. 5 kilometres down, 40 more to go. I have never gone so far on a bike before in my life, but I am almost positive I can manage it. After all, as long as I take breaks every 30-40 minutes or so, it’ll just be like doing several small bike rides together. Shouldn’t be any different than normally, I thought.
I continued down the road, away from the city. I tried to go fast enough that drivers would not get a good look at my face, but slow enough that I wasn’t suspicious-looking, and wouldn’t burn out. After an hour I stopped again, and had a bit of my soup and crackers. Then I clambered back onto my bike and headed off again. By the time I estimated that I was halfway there, I approached an unfamiliar T-junction. Unsure of which way to go, I hopped off my bike, pulled my backpack off and searched for the map.
I looked through the front compartments. Nothing there. In the middle section? Nope. I looked in the front pockets, the side pockets, the pockets of my trousers. It just wasn’t anywhere.
And then I realized the awful truth. I had been looking at the map yesterday evening in my bedroom. I must have had forgotten it, and now it was under my bed, where anyone could find it. I thanked heaven that I had not marked out my course in Hi-Lighter, which I had contemplated doing. I was glad for the strict rules my parents had enforced in me since day one. Defaced books were one of the things they hated most.
Oh, well. I had to get a move on, before people started to notice me. I have been the tallest in my class for as long as I can remember, but I can not quite pass as a kid in their late teens. Pulling my backpack on to my already aching shoulders, I contemplate the junction. I am not sure, but I think that I know the right turning. I believe that it’s to the left, so I head that way.
I bike straight until eleven, when I stop for another snack. I do not want to lose energy and crash my bike because I am focusing more on food than going in a straight line.
Once I have finished and packed away my sandwich, I am back on the road again. I play the Alphabet game, looking for each letter in the alphabet in chronological order on signs and license plates. I go through all 26 letters eight times (and that includes the hard ones like K, Q, X and Z), before I am forced to stop. I should have arrived at my destination fifty minutes ago! At first I had put it down to the fact the my legs and arms were tiring, but I finally knew that two hours of riding ago, I had taken the wrong turn.
I was stuck. I did not want to go back, to have more people see me, but I could not just go on like this. Plus, it was getting later and later. I had to make a decision.
I came up with a compromise then. I would not double back, but I would take the other way. It would be faster, more efficient, and there would be less people because it was a smaller road. And it would save me tons of time. So at the next intersection, I turned right instead of carrying on straight, and headed down Thornton Rd. I biked as fast as I could, gathering speed because I knew there was a steep slope ahead. I pedalled as fast as I could safely, not wanting to veer off the sidewalk and hit a car, but just as quick as I could go without that happening, without losing control of the bicycle.
When I got near the mesa, I quickly changed my bike gear to 1. With all my might I pushed the pedals as swiftly as they would go. The only other time I had attempted this hill it had ended in me falling of the bike and being covered in blood and bruises, which wasn’t a good flashback to reflect on at the moment. I had to focus on riding safely to the top, then back down the other side.
I climbed. As my ascent grew steeper, and the hill sides sharper, I was gasping for breath, all my energy being devoted to climbing this monstrosity. But at about ¾ of the way up, I began to wobble. My bike shook and trembled, weaving and veering from one side of the walk to the other. I strengthened my resolve and put everything into it. And then, I was at the top! I had made it! There was a great view from here, and I admired the panorama, feeling satisfied with my accomplishments.
As I crossed the plateau and began to head down the other side, I brought my head down lower to the handle bars, to keep the wild wind from whipping my hair across my eyes and ruining my line of vision. I had to have all my wits about me. I was hurtling down the hill at about 26 km/h, according to my bike computer, and I had the brakes on as tightly as I could hold them. I wasn’t even peddling and I was going faster than I had in hours. I relaxed, letting my shoulders sag and enjoying the speed. Then, WHAAM! The next thing I knew, my bike had spun out from under me, I had flipped over, and was lying face down in a muddy ditch.

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Kaitlyn Morgan

Barrie, canada

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