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Authors: Kate Constable

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Winter of Grace

She's with the Band
Georgia Clark

Cassie
Barry Jonsberg

The (not quite) Perfect Boyfriend
Lili Wilkinson

Always Mackenzie
Kate Constable

My Life and Other Catastrophes
Rowena Mohr

The Indigo Girls
Penni Russon

Step Up and Dance
Thalia Kalkipsakis

The Sweet Life
Rebecca Lim

Bookmark Days
Scot Gardner

Winter of Grace
Kate Constable

KATE CONSTABLE

This edition published in 2011
First published in 2009

Copyright © Kate Constable, 2009

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. The
Australian Copyright Act
1968
(the Act) allows a maximum of one chapter or ten per cent of this book, whichever is the greater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that the educational institution (or body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to Copyright Agency Limited (
CAL
) under the Act.

Allen & Unwin

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2065

Australia

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ISBN
978 1 74237 772 8

Design based on cover design by Tabitha King and Bruno Herfst
Cover photo: PhotoAlto/Laurence Mouton © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation
Text design by Bruno Herfst
Set in 12.5/15 pt Fournier by Midland Typesetters, Australia
Printed in China at Everbest Printing Co.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

THE BUS WAS
packed, but more and more people kept piling on: mothers with strollers, old people in cardigans, dads with babies strapped to their chests, women in suits, boys in caps. The atmosphere was buzzing.

‘It must have been like this in World War II.' I had to twist sideways to yell into Stella's ear. ‘When the pilots went off on their bombing raids. All in it together, with a mission, with a purpose.'

Stella rolled her eyes. ‘Yeah, Bridie, except this is a peace rally. We're trying to
stop
soldiers going on bombing raids? That's the whole point?'

‘Oh, yeah. Bad example.' I flushed; no one could make me feel like an idiot quicker than Stella. But then she grinned and squeezed my arm, and I remembered that no one else could cheer me up as fast, either.

‘This is going to be
so good
!' She shook her silvery hair off her face, and her pale blue eyes shone with excitement. It nearly made me choke up, I missed her so much.

Stella and I have been best friends since Year 7, but at the end of last year her parents decided to send her to St Margaret's for Year 11 and 12. St Margaret's is a private Catholic school.

Stella's family are kind of Catholic; at least, Nana Kincaid is. Stella's dad, Paul, stopped going to church years ago but he must still be slightly Catholic deep down, because he does loads of volunteer work for church charities and, according to Stella, he thought St Margaret's would ‘expose her to some moral structure'. Mish, Stella's mum, was never Catholic. She isn't anything, like me and Mum. But she said St Marg's was a good school and it wouldn't do Stella any harm – not in two years, anyway.

Stella didn't agree. She'd decided to hate it.

‘Is anyone from your school coming?' I asked her.

Stella rolled her eyes again. ‘Are you kidding? They never do
anything
political. I had to tell them who the Dalai Lama was. Do you know what they've started calling me? PMK. Prime Minister Kincaid.
Seriously
.' Stella snorted, but I could see she was proud of it.

I twisted back and gazed out of the bus window at the bright winter day, at the cars and shops and hurrying crowds. It wasn't surprising that Stella had already established herself at her new school after only a term and a half. Mish always says she is a forceful personality. And I was glad – for her – that she'd settled in so fast. But all year I'd been wandering round our old school, feeling as if I'd had a limb amputated. We still saw each other, because she lived just down the road, but it wasn't the same.

Stella must have guessed what I was thinking, because she nudged me with her elbow and said, ‘St Marg's is full of giggling morons. All they ever talk about is clothes and lipstick; they don't care about anything
important
. There's no one there like
you
.'

That was the great thing about Stella; she always knew how to make me feel special, singled out in the spotlight of her attention. Without her, I felt as if no one noticed me. Even Mum was always too busy with work now to have much time for me.

But then Stella added, ‘Plus they're all girls, obviously.' Another eye roll. ‘Bor-ing.'

I suspected that one reason Paul and Mish wanted Stella to switch schools was so that she wouldn't be distracted by boys. As if
that
was going to work. ‘So who do you hang out with?'

‘Oh, no one much,' said Stella vaguely, as the bus lurched forward. ‘This girl Clare – Maria Tommaso – no one, really.'

She
said
no one, but I knew Stella would never be without friends. I imagined her at lunchtime, lecturing the giggling morons on global politics, shaking her hair back and rolling her eyes at them. Not that I was completely friendless myself – I mean, I wasn't a total loser or anything. But Stella and I had done everything together, and now she was gone. Everyone else was still in their same groups, and I drifted around from one gang to another. I always had someone to sit with, someone to talk to. But it wasn't the same.

By now the bus was so crammed we could hardly breathe, and it crawled through the city at a snail's pace. When the driver opened the doors, we all spilled out onto the road, surging onto the footpath, swept up into the massive crowd that was flooding into the centre of the city. Almost at once I lost Stella in the push and shove of bodies, and I panicked until she reappeared beside me, breathless and beaming. ‘Wow!' she yelled. ‘This is
amazing
!'

The streets were choked with people, a river of marchers flowing into the sea of people gathered in the park. It was a swelling ocean of peaceful protesters, the biggest crowd I'd ever seen. A guy beside us with swinging dreadlocks yelled into his phone, ‘Two hundred thousand! I said,
two hundred
thousand
!'

Stella and I grinned at each other. That was two full MCGs, a double Grand Final, and we were part of it! We linked arms and plunged into the throng, chanting at the tops of our voices.

One two three four, we don't want another war! Five six seven
eight, stop the killing, stop the hate!

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