Fire (Losing Christina, No.3)
Caroline B. Cooney
Christina knows the Shevvingtons have left a trail of hollowed-out, lost girls in mental hospitals across the country, and she has seen the secret files that prove it. But the Shevvingtons are determined to destroy the evidence and Christina. This time, they'll use fire. They stuff her pocketbook full of matchbooks, scribble flames over her class notes anything they can do to make it look like Christina is obsessed with fire and a danger to herself and others. With summer vacation and safety just weeks away, Christina must make one last desperate attempt to keep her sanity and her life. This is book three in the LOSING CHRISTINA series.
a decision: a decree. She’s crazy. She’s not one of us. Keep your eyes on her. Christina stared into her summer fire, thinking of Val. After school, Christina slung her bookbag over her shoulder, careful not to squash Val’s sandwich, and headed for the storm cottage. She was scarcely out the door when Robbie cornered her. “Christina!” he hissed in her ear. “Something terrible has happened.” “What?” He cupped his hands around his lips and breathed in her ear. “Val is missing! My parents took
hands were out, too, ready to grab her wrists. He had his car parked like that to block her escape. Probably his car had no handles on the inside. Probably once she was in that car, she was in it forever. Like Val. At seventeen, her own mother agreeing to shut her up forever. Forever. Forever. Christina backed into the far corner. It was not a large truck. There was not much corner. “Leave me alone.” “I have to talk to you, Christina,” he said. His voice was silky, like all enclosures, like
of campus she ran. The coach tried to catch her, but Mrs. Shevvington didn’t bother. She headed for her car. Christina swerved through the trees, cutting through the opening in the fence. Mrs. Shevvington started her engine. Christina burst out onto the sidewalk, ran down School Street, heading for town. Mrs. Shevvington, driving in the most ordinary way, without unseemly haste, could go forty miles an hour. The woman turned onto the School Street and accelerated. Christina, sobbing for breath,
Shevvington drew another from his beloved briefcase. “Jessica,” he said lovingly to his wife. “Jessica,” she nodded, and they smiled, remembering. They crumpled all the evidence of Jessica — perhaps all that Jessica was or ever would be now — and tossed it onto the fire, smiling, smiling, smiling. The fire flickered and smiled back, like an ally. Like an old friend. The day was hot. Mrs. Shevvington crossed the parlor with its dark flocked walls and pushed aside the thick ancient curtains, with
writing, and after his class, Cooney never stopped writing short stories. By the time she was twenty-five, she had written eight novels and countless short stories, none of which were ever published. Her ninth book, Safe as the Grave, a mystery for middle readers, became her first published book in 1979. Her real success began when her agent, Marilyn Marlow, introduced her to editors Ann Reit and Beverly Horowitz. Cooney’s books often depict realistic family issues, even in the midst of dramatic