"Did Miss Renshaw tell you that?" asked Cubby, feeling doubtful.
"I don't need Miss Renshaw to tell me how to write a poem," replied Icara scornfully.
Icara and Miss Renshaw did not get on.
"Miss Renshaw doesn't like me," Icara told Cubby.
"Icara is too much of an individualist," Miss Renshaw would say with a sigh, which usually meant that Icara disagreed with Miss Renshaw.
"We're enemies," said Icara.
"Why?" asked Cubby, alarmed. Enemies? Enemies were countries, tanks and planes, soldiers in uniforms with helmets and guns, not ordinary people in classrooms.
Icara shrugged. "I don't know," she said. She didn't seem to care particularly. "It might be because my father is a judge." It was true: Icara's father was a judge. He sat in court in red robes and a white wig and sent people to prison. Or worse. No wonder Miss Renshaw didn't like Icara. After all, it must have been a judge who decided that Ronald Ryan was to be taken away and hanged until he was dead.
"Miss Renshaw hates me," said Icara.
"We must work together for the common good," Miss Renshaw declared one morning. "Icara is too reserved. Reserved is a synonym for distant, which is a synonym for far, far away. What is another word for far away?"
This was a kind of game. Miss Renshaw would say a word and see how long a chain of similar words they could make.
"Remote," said Georgina.
"Isolated," said Elizabeth with the plaits.
"Far-flung," said Cynthia through a mouthful of pink meringue she was secretly eating underneath the desk, and that was the end of the chain; nobody could thing of anything else.
Far-flung, wrote Miss Renshaw on the board in yellow chalk.
Miss Renshaw had large, round, sloping, marvelously neat blackboard writing. Nobody could write on the blackboard like Miss Renshaw. "Icara is far-flung."
But with Cubby, Icara was not far-flung. She was nearbyclose- at-hand-a-stone's-throw-away. They were friends without either of them really knowing why. It was as though after that first day, when Icara had taken hold of Cubby's frightened hand, she had never let it go. Cubby and Icara could sit together in the playground or on the bus or in the library not saying much for hours, just a lovely rhythmic silence, like the sound of breathing when you're asleep.
Excerpted from The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky. Copyright © 2013 by Ursula Dubosarsky. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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