TITLE: Keepers of the Flame
GENRE: YA Political Thriller
Freedom. Sweet, sweet freedom, was only one public speech and a walk across stage away.
Essie shut her eyes to reality, picturing the moment. It couldn’t come fast enough. If it were possible, she’d gladly give the entire family fortune for a one way ticket in a time machine.
Her eyes flew open.
Across the aisle, her brother clutched his gut with silent laughter.
“Real mature, Ethan,” she hissed, peeling the soggy wad of paper from her cheek. She straightened her graduation stole, and reread her note cards, trying to ignore the thousands of eyes ogling her.
Especially the token blot of orange. Bouncing up and down in the ocean of rich and powerful, identical in black suits, skirts and sunglasses. She felt her cheeks redden. Her mom didn’t make it easy.
As if the orange blouse and wild black curls weren’t enough, her mom waved an enormous hand-painted banner.
CONGRATULATIONS, VANESSA and ETHAN!
Her dad shot her a sympathetic look and nudged her younger sister, Ella, pointing at the stage. Ella grinned, giving Essie a wiggly fingered wave. Their encouragement wasn’t helping anything.
Essie felt her stomach roll. Any minute she might puke. Or trip. Or puke then trip. Trip into the puke.
Her stomach pitched in response. She buried her head in her hands. Good grades should be awarded with a high-school-graduation-ceremony hall pass. Not a trip to the public speaking gallows.
“And with that, I’ll turn the time over to the lovely, Vanessa Hall, Kingston Academy’s Salutatorian.”