I HATE FLYING. I hate flying.
Evelyn closed her eyes and gripped the armrests tighter as the Cessna C207 Skycraft she was flying in was jostled by turbulence. And being in a small plane that only seated seven people meant that the turbulence really rattled her around, making her stomach twist and knot in apprehension.
Although it wasn’t just the turbulence that was doing that to her.
She’d thought in the twenty years since she’d been here that her hometown might have built a road from Sitka to Wolf’s Harbor, but no.
Nothing seemed to have changed. Wolf’s Harbor was still relying on the service of bush pilots and a small airport and harbor to service the larger hub of Sitka. Although there was a ferry service to Juneau, it took three hours to drive to the ferry terminal and another four hours to cross the channel. That was if the ferry was running. The fastest way was still by air.
Evelyn would have preferred a boat excursion from Sitka to Wolf’s Harbor, but there were no vessels departing on the eight-hour journey from Sitka through Cross Sound and into the small inlet of Wolf’s Harbor. The Cessna had been her only option.
She didn’t like airplanes, even though she was used to flying. Her grandmother had loved taking trips all over the world, but even though air travel was second nature to her she didn’t like it any better.
The plane rocked again but the other people who were on the same flight didn’t pay any attention to it. They were calm and just rocking with the turbulence as if it was nothing. Of course they were probably used to it.
Evelyn was not. She was used to first class. She wasn’t used to a bush plane way of life, nor to this level of turbulence where the pilot would probably have to crab land on the Tarmac because of the wind shear.
The first time she’d flown on a Cessna had been when she’d left Wolf’s Harbor—or rather when she’d been taken from Wolf’s Harbor.
She’d never got to go back.
Of course she’d been only ten when she’d gone to live in Boston. Her father had been killed by a runaway logging truck when he’d gone out one evening. Her mother—who’d died when Evelyn was four—had been Tlingit, and her maternal grandmother and uncle had lived in Wolf’s Harbor, but Evelyn hadn’t heard from them in twenty years.
When she’d first left she’d written letters to them, but nothing had ever come back. She’d been devastated, but her paternal grandmother had taught her to be tough. To harden her heart against disappointment.
Besides, it was really her fault that her father had died. It was no wonder her mother’s family had written her off. Her father had been the beloved town doctor for years until that accident. It had been for the best that she’d left.
Still, it had torn a hole in her soul. She’d got world experience, and a great education, but as a child she hadn’t wanted to leave Wolf’s Harbor.
A social service worker from Juneau had come to take her away. Her father’s estranged mother in Boston had got custody of her. And, as a child, she really hadn’t had a say….
“I don’t want to leave,” Evelyn protested, clutching her small rag doll and looking back at her father’s log cabin with longing.
She loved her cozy home in the forest, where she’d used to wait for her father to come home. But he was never coming back. Her father was gone—and all because he had been on his way to see that woman. The woman who wanted to replace her mother.
“You have no choice,” the social worker said, kneeling in front of her.
She could see the pain in the woman’s eyes.
“I’m sorry, Evelyn, but your grandmother in Boston is looking forward to your arrival and she’s your legal guardian now. Your father didn’t have a will and a judge has ruled in your paternal grandmother’s favor. You have to go live with her.”
“I don’t want to go to Boston.”
“I know.” The social worker squeezed her shoulder. “I wish you could stay too.”
Evelyn picked up her knapsack, which held all her belongings, and took the social worker’s hand as they climbed into the taxi cab which drove them to the airport.
The Cessna was waiting and there were other passengers climbing on board. She gripped the social worker’s hand as she looked back at the town.
The taxi cab driver—Uncle Yazzie—had tears in his eyes as he waved goodbye to her.
“Why can’t I stay with my uncle? Why can’t I stay with my grandmother? They can take care of me. I want to stay with them.”
“Your grandmother in Boston has guardianship over you. The court has decided that you have to go to Boston, Evelyn. I’m so sorry. I know that you want to stay, but you have to be a brave girl. It will be okay.”