I usually paid close attention in school and always took detailed notes, but by last period social studies class on Wednesday afternoon, I couldn't control my nervous energy. I tried to sit still, but it was hopeless … my foot began tapping spontaneously. It just wouldn't stop. Travel was in my bones and Sophie's invitation to visit Paris had gotten me so excited that sitting still was not an option. As soon as the bell rang, I raced out the door, quickly catching up to Avery.
“Hey Char, basketball practice was cancelled today … want to take Marty for a run with me?” asked Avery, jogging backward toward the seventh-grade lockers.
“That sounds good, Ave … I won't be able to start my homework right now anyway … I'm too nervous about this whole Paris thing.”
“Want me to see if I can convince your dad? My mom tells me I'm very persistent,” Avery offered with a grin.
“That's probably not a good idea, Ave. You know how my dad doesn't react very well to nagging, and he already got a phone call from Madame Morel encouraging him to say yes.” I hoped Avery wouldn't get some crazy scheme into her head to try and help … that could be disastrous.
“Hey, Charlotte!” Chelsea Briggs called out, hurrying down the hall toward Avery and me.
“Hi Chelsea,” I said. “What's going on?”
“Maeve told me you're going to Paris!” she said. “That's awesome.”
“Might be going to Paris,” I corrected her. “My dad hasn't given me permission yet. It's still up in the air.” I suddenly wished I hadn't said anything about the trip. Soon the rumor would be all over school, and I'd feel really silly if it was all for nothing.
“Well, if you do end up going, you can borrow my digital camera,” Chelsea offered. “Maybe you could take a few pics for The Sentinel.” As the newspaper's official photographer, Chelsea was always looking for exciting photo opportunities.
“Thanks, Chels. That's really nice of you. My digital broke a few weeks ago.”
“No prob. Just let me know, and I can drop it off at your house. See you guys later.” Chelsea waved good-bye and jogged off in the other direction.
When Avery and I reached the seventh-grade lockers, I quickly loaded up my bag and grabbed my jacket.
“Race you!” Avery shouted as soon as we got to the outside doors. Usually when she said that, I didn't take her up on the challenge, but that day I felt like a run might actually calm me down. I made it to the doorstep of our yellow Victorian house only about 10 seconds behind Avery.
“Wow, Char … you're totally on fire today!” Avery was impressed.
I caught my breath as I unlocked the door and held it open for Avery. We both ran up the stairs to the upper part of the house where Dad and I live.
“Ruffff! Wooof, wooooof!” Marty barked happily when he heard our voices.
“Hey buddy, did ya miss me?” Avery sat on the floor in the hallway and Marty hopped into her lap.
“Hi girls.” My dad walked out of the kitchen to greet Avery and me.
“Hi Mr. Ramsey,” Avery replied with a huge smile.
“Hey Dad.” I searched his face for clues, wondering if he had made his decision yet. Nothing. “We're going to take Marty for a W-A-L-K.” (We have to spell out the word “walk” so Marty doesn't go nuts.)
“Good idea. The little guy's got even more energy than usual today. Charlotte, can I talk to you in the kitchen for a minute before you go?”
I looked back at Avery as I followed my dad through the hallway. She was holding Marty's front paws up … crossed for good luck.
Dad sat down at the kitchen table and motioned for me to do the same.
“Here's the deal, Charlotte. I spent the entire day thinking about Paris. I made a list of the pros and cons. I even asked the opinions of a couple of other professors that have kids your age. I finally decided that one pro outweighed all the cons … you've moved around much more than most kids your age, and I know it hasn't always been easy. You've had to leave friends behind, and you've always been a good sport about it. So … I want you to go on this trip and have the time of your life. But … there's one condition. It will be the most cautious, responsible, CAREFUL time of your life, understand?”
“Really? I can go?! I can go?! Wooooohoooo!” I whooped, jumping up to hug Dad. “Thank you, Dad! You're the best! A trip to Paris … this is unbelievable!”
“Wooooohooooo!” Avery echoed from the hallway and raced in to give me a high five.
“Woooof!” barked Marty in agreement.