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copyright © 1999, 2000,2001   Andrew V. Smith. All Rights Reserved

Survival and Balance, continued

sorry for having to ruin a birthday gift, but the crystal must be neutralized.
          Mr. McGillís not looking in her direction and Mandyís still preoccupied with the phone. Sandy bends down quickly, cracks open the cap of the perfume, and pours out a little to make room for the crystal. She looks around for an object to push the crystal into the bottle and spies a twig nearby. Touching the tip of the twig to the crystal, she sees a faint glow shoot up the length of the twig toward her hands. Her fingertips tingle and she immediately jerks her hand away. Sandyís confused. Her theory of being able to handle the crystal with non-living objects is being tested. The twig is dead, or is it? Sandy grasps the twig with both hands and tries to break it in half. The dry bark breaks easily but the green core resists and flexes instead. This twig is not totally dead. Sandy searches and finds another twig. This one breaks easily and is totally dry inside. Sandy touches the twig to the crystal. She experiences no shooting glow and no tingling in her fingers. Sandy eases the crystal into the perfume bottle. Holding it up to the light, she observes the crystal immersed in the amber-colored liquid. It glows menacingly.
          Hmmm . . . since it came from saving the baby birdís life, this must
be a Seed of Death, she reasons silently. Mr. McGill and Mandyís attentions are no longer diverted. Sandy slips the vial of perfume and its deadly contents into her knapsack.
          McGill pulls his wire framed circular glasses off of his tanned face and wipes the dust and sweat off of the lenses. Itís lucky for April that Mr. McGill hasnít forgotten his Korean Conflict Army Medical Corps training. She benefits from the experience he gained from the men he could and could not save. He lowers his hand. A few crushed beach rose petals fell from his fingers and drift towards the ground. Must have stuck to his fingertips from gardening.
          A few minutes later, Sandyís mom, Karen, is pulling up in the familyís station wagon. Karen steps out to talk to her daughter and Mr. McGill. Everyone piles into the station wagon. After dropping Mr. McGill off at his home, Karen turns around and heads towards the hospital.


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