IMAGINE THIS: Thunderbird

TBird-2x3-ID copyI love to write about dragons, but a friend once asked me why I kept trying to put dragons in America? They’re not part of our continent’s mythology. Hmmm… Now, I write fantasy, so it doesn’t have to follow any rules of reality, but the question made me think. What does this great land of ours have that’s similar to a dragon? What could I turn into a dragon?

Well, we have plenty of dinosaur fossils and bones, and we have Native American tales of thunderbirds. What if I combined the two? Eureka! THUNDERBIRD was born!

I hope you enjoy meeting Janine, the female half of the boy / girl duo who are the Prentiss twins!

LIFE IS SO NOT FAIR. I mean, Dad tells me all the time how lucky I am. How he knows lots of kids who dream about dinosaurs and would give anything to go to a real live paleontology field camp. Yeah. Whatever. Those kids don’t have a paleontologist for a father and a full-blood Crow shaman for a grandfather.

I’ve spent my entire life around fossils—the rock kind and the legendary kind—and I’m tired of messing around with dead dinosaurs and nonexistent thunderbirds. I don’t care if the Museum of the Rockies is world famous for its dinosaur finds, or if our clan of the Crow tribe thinks it holds the special blessing of the thunderbird. I want to be a normal girl and play with live things for a change. I want to go to cheerleading camp.

Unfortunately, Dad doesn’t think cheerleading qualifies as a legitimate use of my time or his resources. A stance my shaman grandfather supports completely.

“Please, Dad?” I pleaded, resisting the urge to bat my eyelashes. I settled for twirling a lock of straight black hair around my index finger. “Think how good this camp will look on my application when it’s time for college. I mean, cheerleading is an actual sport these days.”

“Invalid argument,” he countered without looking up from his packing. Dad is so organized he could give lessons to a neat freak. “Paleontology Field Camp is a far more impressive credential.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve already been to a million field camps,” I said, sifting through my brain for a new angle. “I need to…diversify. My app will look better if I do more things, show them I’m not just a fossil geek. Besides, cheerleading is a team building experience.”

Dad stopped rolling socks into tight little knots, straightened, and shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans. He scowled at me. “I am not paying an arm and a leg for you to run off with a bunch of hyperactive preteens for the summer. I have no idea how well supervised that camp is, but the whole idea gives me a headache.”

“Come on, Dad,” I tried not to wheedle, but my voice cracked under the strain. “Sandra’s letting Haeley go.”

“And that’s another thing; I don’t like you calling your friends’ mothers by their given names. It’s disrespectful.”

“Mrs. Jessup asked me to call her Sandra,” I countered. Haeley’s mom was the coolest. She stayed home, cooked delicious meals, braided Haeley’s hair, made sure everyone in the family had everything they needed, and she liked me. Let me call her Sandra. If Mom had lived, she would’ve been just like Sandra. They would’ve been best friends, just like me and Haels.

“And don’t change the subject. You know Mrs. Jessup wouldn’t let Haeley go if it wasn’t safe. Really, Dad, cheerleading will show what a well-rounded person I am.”

Good one, I thought, folding my arms across my chest and swallowing the smile that threatened to creep across my face. Too soon to celebrate.

“No daughter of mine is going to prance around in a skimpy outfit just so she can show off how well-rounded she is!”

“Dad!” I squealed, shocked out of my shoes. I mean, hello! I’m twelve years old, flat as a board, and just as straight up and down. My cheeks flamed and tears blurred my vision. I turned and ran for the door. “That is so unfair,” I yelled over my shoulder. “I wish Mom were alive. She’d understand about being a girl.”



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