Feeling suddenly anxious, Daunis asks Jamie to go peruse vendor booths while she goes for a run. He says he’ll come with; they can talk or not. Daunis is grateful for his company. She feels better after a sprint, and then she explains that Travis used to just drink at parties. Then he started using other drugs and eventually found meth thanks to his mom, who’s known as the Meth Queen. Over Christmas break, Lily caught Travis cooking meth and now, it seems like so many people are using—people you’d never expect. Jamie seems nonjudgmental. Daunis feels relieved to share this secret, but she also feels like she’s sharing too much. To change the subject, Daunis suggests a book for Jamie to buy. Then, they share an order of fry bread.
As Daunis describes Travis’s descent into addiction, she makes it clear that he’s not the only person in the community struggling. He’s just the closest person to her who’s addicted, and so she’s had more of an opportunity to see how meth has negatively transformed Travis’s life (and also affected their peers, like Lily). Jamie’s nonchalance could reflect that this isn’t news to him, or that he’s seen it before. Either way, though, Daunis seems to find his reaction somewhat surprising, which is something to keep in mind going forward.
For dinner, Daunis and Jamie join Art and Auntie at their RV. While Jamie hangs out with Art at the grill, Auntie braids Daunis’s hair and explains why Daunis couldn’t come to the blanket party. She explains that she hates going, and she thanks Creator that Daunis doesn’t have to. Hopefully, Daunis’s light skin and money will protect her—Auntie can’t hope the same for her Black and Ojibwe daughters. Daunis feels ashamed.
Auntie doesn’t elaborate or get explicit here, but she implies that Daunis, as someone who can pass for white, should take advantage of the privilege and the legal options she has if anything were to ever happen to her. A blanket party, in other words, is an imperfect solution to a problem, and for Daunis’s health and safety, she shouldn’t aspire to get involved.
Jamie comes over with a plate for Daunis, and they discuss the “minor forty-niner” (the powwow party for minors) later. Daunis implies there will be beer, and Auntie says it’s okay to have fun if you’re smart—and throwing a party in town at her grandparents’ fancy house wasn’t smart. Auntie tells Daunis to stay at her house tonight. So, when Jamie and Daunis take the ferry to Sugar Island later, Daunis texts Mom and assures her that she’ll be safe at Auntie’s tonight. She then texts Lily, whom she hasn’t heard from, asking what happened with Travis. Daunis warns Jamie to text his uncle now if he needs to; the island has terrible service due to the cliffs and caves. Supposedly, Al Capone even hid liquor here. She suggests Jamie invite Jen to Shagala, deciding privately to invite Lily so Levi doesn’t make her go with Stormy again.
This passage establishes several things that will be important going forward. First, Auntie takes an active role in looking out for Daunis; she wants Daunis to have fun and even break rules if she wants, but she insists that Daunis take precautions. Then, Sugar Island is something of a dead zone when it comes to cell service. Finally, though Daunis loves Levi, she finds him overbearing and pushy. It also adds tension that Daunis hasn’t heard from Lily; it creates the foreboding sense that something awful is going to happen to Lily.
At the forty-niner, people are drumming and singing. Daunis downs two beers before Levi and his friends shout her awful nickname, Bubble, and approach. He puts his arms around Daunis and a girl named Macy and asks Jamie if his girlfriend is as great as these two. Jamie demurs and asks about the Bubble nickname. Macy crows that it’s for “Bubble Butt” and dances away, cackling. Jamie tells Daunis that kids called him Urkel in middle school and grabs Daunis another beer. Daunis downs it and returns to the keg, where Levi asks if Daunis is going to try to have sex with Jamie tonight. When she says no, he asks if this is about TJ. Daunis tells him to leave it alone—or she has a lot to say about how he uses girls.
Daunis doesn’t try to hide that she hates her nickname; at least, it seems obvious to Jamie that she doesn’t appreciate Levi using it. Levi continues to look like not a particularly nice person, especially when Daunis insinuates that he doesn’t treat his romantic or sexual partners very well. Jamie, on the other hand, comes off as kind and caring: though he’s Levi’s teammate, he doesn’t try to suck up to Levi by using “Bubble.” Instead, he tries to build camaraderie with Daunis by sharing his own embarrassing nickname.
Feeling suddenly overwhelmed, Daunis leaves the barn and vomits near Jamie’s truck. When she looks up, Travis and Lily are coming down the path—and Travis is grabbing at Lily, who’s clearly upset. He pulls a gun and points it at Lily, who notices Daunis. Travis points the gun at each girl in turn. Daunis is frozen; the boy she sat next to in AP classes is going to kill her. She can smell WD-40, pine, and cat pee. Travis swings the gun like a machete before pointing it at Daunis. As Daunis thinks of how devastated Mom will be, Lily reaches for the gun—and the gun goes off.
The writing style in this passage creates the sense that Daunis is so shocked and traumatized, she’s not picking up on everything that’s going on. Instead, she’s focused on Mom (one of the people she loves most) and what initially seems like unrelated scents, like cat urine. However, certain methods of cooking meth can give off a smell like cat urine, so smelling that here highlights Travis’s addiction problems.