Kasey & Ivy, p.1
Text copyright © 2018 Alison Hughes
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Hughes, Alison, 1966–, author
Kasey & Ivy / Alison Hughes.
Issued in print and electronic formats.
ISBN 978-1-4598-1574-2 (softcover).—ISBN 978-1-4598-1575-9 (pdf)—ISBN 978-1-4598-1576-6 (epub)
I. Title. II. Title: Kasey and Ivy.
PS8615.U3165K37 2018 jC813'.6 C2017-904560-1
First published in the United States, 2018
Library of Congress Control Number: 2017949722
Summary: In this middle-grade novel, twelve-year-old Kasey spends a month in the geriatric ward of her local hospital and strikes up some unusual friendships.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Edited by Sarah N. Harvey
Cover artwork by Julie McLaughlin
ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS
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An Excerpt from Kings of the Court
ONE Game Face
I know this must be weird, getting a handwritten letter from me when we live next door to each other and see each other practically all the time. I can picture you looking confused. But stop what you’re doing, stop even chewing (if you’re eating), and read this.
This has been the worst day of my life. Truly. In some ways, it’s been even more dramatic than when we had that tornado warning at school. Remember? It got all dark and the sky was greenish and it looked as if we were in the middle of a legit catastrophe, but all that really happened was that the wind howled through the cracks in the portable, Brianna cried, Mrs. D. got all nervous and blotchy and our parents had to pick us up early. Your dad came to get you before things really got exciting. We had a thrilling dash through the pouring rain to our van. Did you know that I even carried Molly? I did. She’s heavier than she looks. And she was wet weight. I know she could have run, but she was upset, and Mom had the baby and Kyle, so I piggybacked her. Lizzy carried the backpacks and the diaper bag, plodding after us to the van. We were all soaked. To the skin! We listened to the thuk-thuk of shoes banging around the dryer the rest of the week.
Wow, give me a pen and paper, and I’ll just write and write.
You’ll never guess where I’m going right now, Nina.
To the hospital!
Truth. I, Kasey Morgan, am going to be a genuine, hospital-bracelet-wearing patient. Here’s how it happened. You know that thing on my leg? The red bump I showed you near my ankle? Below the soccer bruise I got when that cheapshotter Samantha Skinner slide-tackled me illegally when I was crossing the ball in that game we lost 2–1 against Carson Heights? Well, after weeks and weeks of it getting bigger and redder, we finally went to the doctor. And when I say “we,” I mean all of us, other than Dad, who was at work. You’ve known the Morgan family all your life, Nina. You know we do everything in a lurching, messy, screaming group. Even a doctor’s appointment. It’s so embarrassing.
“Kasey, you sit up there,” my mom said, sitting down in the only chair. She had the baby on her shoulder and Kyle squirming on her lap. She pointed over at the long stretcher-thingy with that thin sheet of paper over top that can’t possibly keep you safe from other people’s germy diseases. First of all, it’s not wide enough. Don’t the paper people ever measure? There’s a good three inches of stretcher on either side of the paper that stays completely uncovered and must be just crawling with germs. Second of all, you can see through the paper, it’s that thin. You think see-through paper is going to stop germs and bacteria from crawling up your legs? No way. I’ve seen the nature shows. Those things are survivors.
Lizzy and Molly hopped up there on the diseasy paper with me, because there was no other place for them to sit or even stand really. Examination rooms were not built for six people plus a doctor. And they weren’t built for little kids waiting for ages for a doctor to arrive. Kyle ripped almost all the pages out of a magazine and tossed Cheerios around like confetti. That boy gives new meaning to the term “terrible two.” Mom was feeding the baby under a blanket when someone double-knocked, then banged open the door and barged right in.
“Oho, so the whole family’s here!” the doctor said in this loud, jolly voice, smiling and showing us all her huge, crooked teeth. Obviously, we were all here. Too many of us.
“How many of you are there?” she went on, smiling at us. This was a doctor I’d never seen before. She did not inspire confidence, Nina. She started banging around in a cupboard, knocking over a cup of tongue depressors, and finally brought out some zoo-animal stickers that she handed around.
“No, thank you,” I said coldly when she came around to me. Seriously? I’m twelve years old.
“Ah, you must be”—she looked down at the sheet she’d crumpled in her hand—“Katherine-Charlotte.”
“Technically,” I said. You know that’s my name, Nina, and how I shortened it to K.C. for a while and then it just morphed into Kasey. And how I finally, actually, like my name, because now I don’t sound like some kid in a pioneer bonnet. (“Pa’s bringin’ in the cattle, Katherine-Charlotte, y’hear?”) But very, very few other people know my real name. Don’t tell anybody else. Only doctors and substitute teachers call me Katherine-Charlotte.
“She goes by Kasey,” Mom said quickly, seeing the look on my face. She patted the baby on the back and gave a nervous little laugh. Even after having five babies (maybe because of having five babies), Mom is still super nervous of anything medical. Well, you’ve seen our home remedies, Nina. We’ve talked about them. You have normal parents who go to clinics and pharmacies, so it’s hard for you to understand why somebody would use apple cider vinegar on a wart (for example). We’ve been using something called witch hazel on the steadily growing red bump on my ankle. Seriously. Let me tell you, whatever witchcraft this Hazel uses, it doesn’t work.
The doctor finally straightened up and sat back heavily in her wheely-chair.
“Kasey,” the doctor said, “you’re the big girl in the family, I see. Grade—what? Six? I should say just finishing sixth grade.”
I nodded. This was not going to be good. Whenever adults remind you that you’re a big girl, it means they don’t want a screamer. It means serious trouble.
Nina, I swear my heart was thumping so hard I could hardly hear anything else. My face was hot, all I could hear was the whoosh-whoosh of my heartbeat, and my hands were clammy. I missed the first part of what she said.
“—so you’ll understand that we have to do some tests on this lump of yours. In the hospital.”
“The hospital!” Mom blurted.
“Yes. She needs a bone scan as soon as possible. Today, in fact, if I can get her in on an emergency basis. The scanner is at the Royal Vic, not at the local hospital,” said the doctor.
“A bone scan!”
Mom didn’t mean to be annoying. She really didn’t.
“They’re going to scan Kasey’s bones?” I heard Molly’s too-loud, horrified voice say beside me. “But her bones are inside her body!” She’s only four, right? So this all must have seemed super scary to her. Not only to her, actually.
“Shhh,” Lizzy whispered back. “It’s probably an X-ray thing. To see inside her. Shhh. It’ll be okay.”
The doctor wrote on a form. My first impression of her was changing. At first this doctor seemed clumsy, incompetent and in need of a good dentist. Between her and the witch hazel, I might have chosen the witch. But now, with her face set and serious, she was all business. And way scarier.
She handed the sheet over to my mother and left to find somebody to scan my bones. A bone scanner. Doesn’t that sound like a creepy profession, Nina?
I looked at Mom, and Mom looked at me, and both of us looked scared and worried. But we gave each other tight, brave smiles to try to convince each other that we weren’t.
“It’s going to be fine. Just fine,” Mom said, slipping a soother into the baby’s mouth.
“But her bones! Kasey’s bones!” Molly wailed, throwing out her little arms for emphasis.
“My bones are fine.” I said it firmly and loudly, trying to convince everyone. Trying to convince myself.
We poured out of the little room and waited in the waiting room. Mom called Dad while Kyle hopped on one foot, repeating the word bones eight million times, making it into a bouncing song. “Bones, bones, bones, bones, bones…”
“Dad’s coming from work in a few minutes to drive you to the hospital,” Mom said. We sat and stared at the door. When Dad came in, Mom ran over to him, talking quick and low. Then she came over to me, and while the baby grabbed a tight handful of my hair, she kissed the top of my head and smooshed me into her hip in a fierce, awkward hug.
“Everything’s going to be just fine, Pumpkin. Just fine.” Her voice sounded funny.
She untangled the baby, turned and grabbed Kyle mid-hop and said, “Let’s go, girls” in that same fake-cheerful voice. Lizzy grabbed Molly’s hand, turned at the door and waved at me. Good old Lizzy. She’s only eight, but I’d give Lizzy the Most Responsible Morgan Award. Absolutely 100 percent. I’ll bet you she could even drive the van if she really had to.
“Okay, Pumpkin,” Dad said, coming back from the desk with a folder of papers. “Got all the paperwork. Let’s go find out what the heck that lump is.” He smiled, but I could tell he was worried.
We are both quiet as we drive to the Royal Vic, a monster hospital in the scary, run-down part of the city. I keep wondering how I got a scanner appointment so quickly. Don’t people wait for months for things like that? Is this some discount, cheapo scanner? Or am I really an emergency case?
Anyway, my bones, bones, bones are speeding closer to the hospital with the scanner.
What does a scanner do, exactly?
I wonder if it hurts.
Your nervous friend with a possibly diseased leg bone,
I was told to sit in this very disgusting hospital waiting room. The Emergency room. As the name indicates, it is not a fun party room. It’s more of a Crisis room, a Catastrophe room. It’s where all the people who can’t wait to see a regular doctor go. Very sick people or those who are actively gushing blood, for example. Which I’m not. There was a crumpled, used-looking Kleenex on one of the seats. There was also some sort of evil smear on the magazine beside me. I didn’t want to look at it, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself.
Dad had to go move the car. There were no spots anywhere, so Dad just lurched the car up to the door. According to a very large security guard, he had “three minutes” to get me in here and come back to move it.
“She’ll be just fine,” said a big clerk with long nails that must be hard to type with. “I’ll keep an eye on her. She’ll be heading in for her scan shortly.”
“Go, Dad,” I hissed. “That guy’s going to tow the car!”
“Back in a flash.” He gave my hand a painful squeeze and sprinted back to the doors.
I looked around the waiting room. A really old woman sat staring straight ahead of her, looking angry. She had tightly curled hair and held her purse with both hands on her lap like somebody was going to snatch it. A woman with a terrible cough flipped through a magazine and spewed disease into the room with each cough. I turned my head and tried not to breathe her germy air. I breathed away from her, in little panting breaths. There was a terribly thin man in a wheelchair who had his eyes closed. Another guy was completely bent over, clutching his stomach.
I sat and listened to the tick-tick-tick of the clerk typing, snuck glances at the smeary magazine beside me and stared down at my sandals. I wished I had shoes that shut out diseases rather than ones that left my toes right out there in the germy open. I looked around for some hand sanitizer. I couldn’t very well scrub my feet, but I could clean my hands. Nothing. Can you believe that? No hand sanitizer in a hospital, Nina! I was not feeling cheerful about any part of this experience.
A porter with a wheelchair grabbed a binder at the desk, then shuffled out to the waiting area.
“Katherine-Charlotte?” he croaked.
The porter was so old, I didn’t know who would be pushing who for a minute there. Not just old—ancient. Way, way older than my grandparents.
“In you get,” he wheezed, bending super slowly to push down the footrests.
“Actually, I can walk fine,” I said, thinking there must have been some mistake.
The porter gave me a dark look and turned to confer with Tappy Nails at the desk. I heard him mutter “attitude.” The clerk came around the desk.
“Now, Katherine-Charlotte,” she said in a brisk voice, swiveling the wheelchair toward me, “Norm here is our number-one porter.” I snuck a glance at Norm, who glared back. “He hasn’t lost a patient yet!” She laughed like we were all having tons of fun. “Hop in! No breaking the speed limit, Norm!”
I climbed into the wheelchair, feeling awkward and ridiculous. I can walk perfectly well, Nina. Let me tell you, I can definitely walk better than Norm. I could have run to the scanner, up and down the stairs, down the halls. But I guess traveling by wheelchair is some sort of hospital law, so I got in. I didn’t want trouble.
We went so slowly it was unbelievable
“Feet on the rests, please,” Norm barked.
We inched our way into a greenish-blue elevator, then down a greenish-blue hallway into a department called Nuclear Medicine.
That name alone scared the pants off me, Nina. Not just medicine (which is bad enough), but nuclear medicine. My heart started pounding. My mind started racing. Nuclear bomb…nuclear disaster…nuclear waste. Think about it. Anything nuclear is always bad news. Actually, let me correct that. It’s not just bad news, it’s disaster news.
Dad was in the waiting room. He jumped up as we gradually slid in.
“Hey, Pumpkin!” he said. “I went to Emerg, but they told me you’d already left. That was ages ago! Where have you—” He stopped when I rolled my eyes and tilted my head back at the porter behind me. I could see on Dad’s face the moment he understood. His mouth opened, his eyes got bigger, his eyebrows rose. Both my parents are so obvious. You can actually see what they’re thinking most of the time. You can predict what they’re going to say before they say it. Almost always.
Not me. Dad says I’ll be a good poker player someday, because my face doesn’t give anything away. Which is good. If I’m scared or upset it’s nice that the whole world doesn’t have to know it. But it gets me into trouble sometimes too. Mrs. D. always seems to think I don’t apply myself (which I do), and Coach never thinks I’m trying hard at practice (which I am). The problem with Coach is that he doesn’t think you’re trying unless you’re panting and yelling and grimacing and flailing and showing how hard you’re trying. That’s not me.
And the problem with Mrs. D. is sort of similar: unless you’re catching her eye, smiling and hyper-nodding at everything she says, she thinks you’re slacking off. You’ve probably never thought of this, Nina. You have the opposite of a poker face, a nice, smiley nonpoker face. But believe me, you get misunderstood if you have one.