From the book Wonder by RJ Palacio (wonderful book btw!). My word(s) were “ordinary ten-year-old kid” and the picture was of a girl with long blondeish/brown hair 🙂
EverLee Thornwalton’s parents were criminals.
Not just your everyday slip-a-small-bag-of-M&Ms-in-your-pocket sort of criminals, but the scammed-the-entire-country-out-of-billions-of-dollars-and-put-thousands-of-people-out-of-work sort of criminals.
Of course, they hadn’t always been.
EverLee remembered the way her dad used to push her so high in the swings that she thought she’d keep on going right over the top. And even though her mom didn’t have the prettiest voice, EverLee remembered falling asleep with You Are My Sunshine ringing softly in her ears.
But that was almost too long ago to remember.
Before her parents rose to the top of their company. Before EverLee was handed over to her nanny, Betty, to be watched all day long. Before the occasional hug or the quick kiss on the forehead when they came home late at night. Before waiters, and retail workers, and reporters, and magazines knew EverLee’s every whim and desire better than her parents did.
Before the company splattered like an egg on the kitchen floor and in one day everyone in the country hated the name Thornwalton.
EverLee took a seat on the red vinyl booth at Hop Burger sliding her tray containing a hamburger, small fries, and a small soda (wouldn’t her mom go crazy if she knew what EverLee was eating?) across the table. She swiped away the leftover salt that dusted the top, unfolded her thin paper napkin and laid it across her lap. The napkin was habit now.
The few times that her parents had time to eat a meal with her in the last six years, her mother would always scold her for forgetting to put her napkin on her lap. By the time it had become a habit for EverLee, her parents didn’t have any more time to think about her, let alone about her napkin.
“Eat up, Honey Bee,” Betty said, sliding her own tray—cheeseburger and fries—across from EverLee. “We’ll need to hit the road soon if we want to get to Vermont in time to see the Bed and Breakfast in the daylight.”
Betty was old and thick, short and soft, always reminding EverLee of a large comfortable pillow with just the right amount of wrinkles. Her skin was caramel like the candy bars EverLee saw on television and one of her favorite things was to watch Betty release her black spiral-y curls from her hairnet every morning. Those black coils were so different from her long, blonde, straight-as-spaghetti hair.
She knew that the last thing Betty was expecting when her parents were sent to jail was to become the legal guardian of a twelve-year-old girl.
“It’s not what I expected,” Betty told her one night. “But sometimes the unexpected things in life turn out to be the best ones. Like me meeting my Jacob—God rest his soul. And this right here.” She grabbed onto EverLee’s hand and squeezed real hard. “You and Me? We’re a family now.”
Now they were moving their mixed-up family-of-two to the small town of Middleford, Vermont to run a bed and breakfast.
She was starting new.
“Your parents lies spread all across America,” Betty had told her. “But Honey Bee, they weren’t your lies. You’re not them. You’re a million times more than just the daughter of the Thornwalton’s.”
“I know,” EverLee had said. And she did.