Mom's last words: Keep them safe. Help them be happy.
Morgan promised, so she sacrifices soccer, free time, and friendships for her younger siblings. But when Dad's "talk therapy" campout ignites Morgan's anxiety, she makes a reckless decision to prove she can fill Mom's shoes . . . which leaves her literally fighting for survival.
CATERPILLAR SUMMER x THING ABOUT JELLYFISH
I keep telling myself it will all get easier next week.
Well . . . not all. The hardest part, I’m stuck with forever. But at least once school starts, I won’t have to patrol this blazing playground every day like a sweaty prison guard, saving my siblings from death by monkey bars.
Then again, who uses the word “easy” to describe junior high?
Manic giggling pulls my attention back to Janie and Budge—scrambling onto the zip line together like they want me to panic.
“One at a time, guys!”
“Pleeeeease, Morgan!” Janie leans dizzyingly far off the platform, her broomstraw hair sweeping the wood chips below. “We’re practicing our trapeze act.”
Familiar fear squirms in my gut. There’s a good chance they’re planning to construct an actual trapeze. Janie’s seven-year-old brain is the source of all fun—for five-year-old Budge.
For twelve-year-old me?
“It’s too dangerous.”
Janie glares back at me.
I raise my eyebrows, channeling Mom. I can endure glaring to keep them in one piece.
But then she yells, “Mom would let us!”
I flinch. I don’t know how many times this summer I’ve heard those words, and they never stop hurting.
Mom would let them.
Mom would do a million and one things better than I ever can.
It’s not. But I can’t bring myself to say what I’d have to say instead: Mom’s gone. Mom won’t ever be here again.
All you’ve got is me.