Fortunately, Ron’s car isn’t at Sault High. Daunis suspects Uncle David left a notebook for her in his hidden drawer. She tells Mrs. H that Mom is still having a hard time, and she’d like to get some of David’s things out of his classroom. In the classroom, Daunis opens the big snack drawer that’s now filled with file folders. When she was 10, David showed her how to pull out the false bottom with dissecting rods. Daunis does so now and discovers a blue notebook. Sticking it in her jeans, Daunis replaces the bottom and the file folders before Mrs. H appears in the doorway. Daunis pretends to have been crying and grabs David’s rock collection. Then, Mrs. H says she hopes Daunis will reconsider going away to college—she’s not like other “Indian kids” who aren’t prepared socially or academically, adding that she’s not prejudiced.
It’s extremely satisfying for Daunis to discover the hidden notebook, as it makes her feel closer to Uncle David. However, the positive feelings she gets from this soon dissipate when Mrs. H, seemingly unwittingly, spews bigoted ideas about “Indian kids.” Her implication is much like GrandMary’s when it came to Catholicism; both women insist that Daunis is somehow less Native and is therefore better than her Native peers. Both women also express a belief that Native people are somehow naturally inferior to white people, which is bigoted and prejudiced, no matter what Mrs. H says.
Daunis decides to read the notebook at EverCare, but she finds Mom sitting in GrandMary’s room next to an empty bed, crying. Mom says GrandMary is fine, she’s just overwhelmed. Daunis suggests they rent a movie and get takeout tonight, and Mom agrees. The next day, Thursday, Daunis drags out her errands with Granny June and picking up her dress until finally, she drives to GrandMary’s house to read Uncle David’s journal.
Seemingly instinctively, Daunis wants to be surrounded by supportive family as she prepares to dive into Uncle David’s journal. Even if it’s just sitting with GrandMary (who can’t respond) or in GrandMary’s house, Daunis wants to feel like she’s not alone. This highlights how much Daunis relies on her family to support her, even if she can’t loop them in about what she’s doing.
The journal begins in September of 2003, and it’s mostly in English. Uncle David jots down questions students ask. Most students are identified by initials or a symbol; Daunis is a heart. In October, David started writing about a student identified by a light bulb. Daunis figures this kid is Travis, as he was brilliant and inquisitive. Around Thanksgiving, David recorded a question Light Bulb asked: would a poisonous plant tossed in compost poison the compost and then the crops fertilized with the compost? David spent the next month trying to help Light Bulb come up with testing strategies, but soon, he records that Light Bulb is skipping class. In December, David begins writing in code about mushrooms and Duck Island; about this time, Travis started cooking meth. In his January entries, Daunis finds David’s code word for the FBI.
The journal’s beginning seems innocuous enough—it seems clear that the FBI hasn’t approached David yet when he begins. It’s worth noting that while Daunis assumes that Light Bulb is Travis, she and the FBI both assume that Travis wasn’t the only Sault High student involved in the meth cell—so this student could be anyone. Metaphorically, Light Bulb’s question about the compost is interesting. It’s possible to read it as questioning whether mentors or helpers—compost, of sorts, for developing young people—can contaminate those youths. This in turn raises the question of what adults, if any, are involved in the meth cell.