Terry Lynn Johnson
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The author Terry Lynn Johnson is a musher herself, and her crackling writing puts readers at the reins as Victoria and Chris experience setbacks, mistakes, and small triumphs in their wilderness adventure.
the dogs take a corner, I lean out from the handlebar. We skid, snow spraying out from the runners. Tears squeeze out the corners of my eyes and freeze in lines across my temples. I blink rapidly to stop my eyelashes from sticking together again. Some mushers wear ski goggles, but I don’t like how looking through goggles separates me from my environment. I like to see things clearly. The dogs have good speed coming out of the turn. They’re really pulling, as if they know we need to win. But
wild center of attention, and hard to resist. It’s not as if I’ve never gone out with anyone. I grimace thinking of my short and tragic past with Randy Fuller. Maybe I felt sorry for him. Maybe he wore Bart Simpson T-shirts every day because his development was stunted. Back in grade school, he fell asleep at Mark Hamilton’s birthday party, and they super-glued his finger to the inside of his nostril. That kind of humiliation is hard to get past in a small town. So in eighth grade I called
ANOTHER dog yard.” My mom thumps her briefcase down on the kitchen counter and grabs her cheese and cucumber sandwich from the fridge. “Jeremy Cook’s dogs aren’t any better than the ones you already have. A dog’s a dog, Vicky. And we’ve already got too many.” “Well, that shows how much you know about it, since a dog is definitely not a dog.” I raise my chin and stare at her. Every time we have this fight about the dogs, I brace myself. For months now I’ve been waiting for her to say she wants
Leonard wasn’t going ice fishing today, but I don’t need him either. I can get to Cook’s myself. Really, what does a couple more years matter? It’s not as if I don’t know how to handle the truck now. A license is just a piece of paper. Before I can talk myself out of it, I hurry to the closet to find the topographic maps. I’m not exactly sure which roads to take to get to Cook’s. I mentally kick myself again for leaving the race yesterday before I spoke to him. He and Dad were friends, but I’ve
spill everywhere. “N-nargh.” I can’t form words. With my body shaking, I crouch over the wooden, planked floor. My fingers won’t cooperate—it’s as if they belong to someone else. I can’t pinch them together hard enough to pick up one tiny match. I try again. And again. Tears stream down my cheeks and burn. NO! We are so close! The warmth is right here, if I can only grab one stupid match. At last, my fingers grasp several matches at once. It takes fierce concentration to keep them held