Excerpt: Here She Lies (Part 2)

This is the second installment of my YA Fiction novel. If you missed the first excerpt, you can find it here. Enjoy!

Charlie turns the radio down, and Van Halen fades away. Charlie looks over at Milly but can’t catch her eye.
“If he was that bad, you could have just come over earlier,” he asks.
Milly shakes her head, but she won’t look at him still. “It’s not a big deal. I’ve avoided him most of the morning.”
After a while Charlie asks, “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.”
Milly plays with the bracelet on her wrist, rolling a circular bead over and over again, counting under her breath. One tire, two tires, three, four, five. “I already know what you’re thinking. It’s not that big of a deal.”
“You always say that.”
“Because it’s always true, Charlie. I’ve lasted this long. I just have to finish school, and I’m gone. Another year isn’t going to kill me.”
Charlie takes a deep breath. “You sure?”
“Yes.” Her eyes fixate on the road, away from Charlie’s gaze.
Charlie’s mouth opens to say something else, but he quickly shuts it again. Milly straightens her back and puts on a smile. “Would you just calm down? Stop worrying about me.”
“I won’t let this go.”
“Oh what do you know, Junior?”
“Hey! You say it like it’s a bad thing. ”
“It is,” she teases. “Just give it a rest. I can’t handle another lecture this summer.” Her smile remains plastered to her face, but her eyes aren’t wrinkled up like they are when she’s actually happy, and her knuckles turn white as she holds onto the bracelet.
Charlie focuses back on the road, taking a deep breath. It doesn’t matter how much this bothers her. Eventually, she’ll listen, he thinks.
“Maybe if you moved with your aunt, you’ll have to go to another school. But at least that way you won’t have to face everyone after last year…”
“Drop it, Charlie.” The smile leaves Milly’s face. “I’m not moving, and I’m not running away from anything or anyone. Last year is no one’s business: including yours. You promised.”
“I’m sorry,” he says.
“No one’ll remember what happened last year anyway,” she says. The pitch of her voice rises. “I’m sure a lot of things happened over the summer for everyone; they won’t even care about me anymore.”
The car is silent. They pull off the freeway. Palm trees spring up every few blocks, and front yard after front yard sports brown lawns. Charlie turns the air on. It feels like a boulder sits in his stomach—he shouldn’t have pushed it. Everything changed last year, even Milly and Charlie’s friendship. She won’t admit it, but Charlie knows she thinks about last year a lot. She shifts in her chair and plays with that stupid bracelet, rubbing it like a genie that can fix all her problems. He slows at a red light. The only noise comes from the traffic of the overpass and the incessant click-click-click of his blinker. He can’t stand it anymore.
“Nova?” She looks over at him, holding his gaze before the car has to move again. He pulls off the freeway. “Please let me do something. You’ve taken enough hits for me to last a lifetime.”
Milly lets out a deep breath and turns to face the window again.
When they were younger and Charlie’s parents were out of town—which was very frequent—they left him at her house. It was Nova and Charlie against the world ever since the time Milly was five and Charlie was four. The broken vase was one of their many adventures gone awry.
“You know, I wouldn’t have to protect you if you lived somewhere safer.”
“Charlie…” she says as a warning.
“I know, I know, but there’s got to be somewhere—someone—better.”
“We’ve been over this a thousand times; there is no one besides you.”
“And why can’t you ask your aunt?”
“Maybe I don’t want to live with her? I know it doesn’t make sense to you, but that’s home to me—”
“God knows why,” he says while rolling his eyes. She glares at him. “Sorry,” he says quickly as he pulls off the freeway.
“I know it’s really hard for you to understand, but I’m going to ask you one last time: don’t bring it up again. This is my senior year, and I’m not moving before it even starts. I feel really good about this year, and nothing that happened last year is going to stop me from having a good year. Just drop it, okay?”
“All right, all right. I just really hope you’re right,” he says.

Excerpt: Beyond the Fragile Glass (Part 3)

If you missed the previous excerpts of this story, you can find Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE. Without further ado, here’s the next batch:

I pass her extended arms and stand in front of the mirror, desperate for something else to think about. My shit-colored eyes stare into the mirror. I lick my hand and run it over the tar-colored frizzy lion’s mane that pretends to be my hair, but to no resolve. My brow furrows, so I shift my focus to the mirror itself, rather than my reflection in it.

It’s funny how I’ve never thought of the mirror before. The outer edges are carved cherry wood, an antique passed down from a dead Grandma. The etching gives way to flowers of different sizes and in each corner, a small cherub blesses the mirror with delicate smiles. This mirror always gave me the creeps, but Mom insisted it go in my room. The plus side is that I think the mirror is sort of bent, like in a circus fun house, so I always look taller and skinnier in it. In some corners of the mirror, patches of the silver have faded over time, giving way to indents of black and dark purple marks that crawl towards the cherubs, who seem blissfully unaware.

“How does it work?” I thrust my hand at the mirror, but my fingers crush into the firm glass. “Ow, ow, ow.” I cradle them. “What the hell?”

“You can’t get through without me, only me and people like me can get through.”

“People like you?” My fingers throb, so I squeeze them tighter, trying to focus on the breaths coming in and out of my lungs instead of the pain.

“Guides. We open portals in the mirrors and transport humans in and out.”

“Humans?”

“I’m not necessarily a human, more or less like a fairy from Neverland. Magic, you could say.”

I drop my fingers and stand tall. “You’re telling me we’re going to fucking Neverland?”

She shakes her head. “Glass is nothing like Never, Neverland.”

“Fine, let’s explore, shall we?” I grab her hand and turn back to the mirror. I gently poke at it this time, and the glass ripples from where my finger touched it. I jump back, still clinging to her hand. “Woah.”

“Are you ready to go to Glass, Haize?”

“I hope so.”

She turns her back on me, standing between me and Dead Grandma’s mirror. Ah, I realize, not a ponytail, but a fishtail braid all the way to her ass. I stand corrected. Hana stands in front of the mirror, and sticks her leg right through it, and over her shoulder, she says, “you’ll have to hold your breath, but it’s not a very long walk, so you should be fine.”

The rippling glass quickly envelops her entire body, leaving only the hand that tugs at mine. I close my eyes and lean into the mirror-or where I expect the mirror to be. Rather, my skin pushes through the bouncing glass. When it hits my skin, goose bumps burst all over my body. I was unprepared for the cold and hard substance, like jelly, as it wraps around my arms and legs.

“Open your eyes,” Hana says. It doesn’t sound like I expect her voice to, like if we actually were underwater, but I obey.

The area around me looks just like water. My feet slosh through the glass, one pulling along the ground right after the other. My hand holds tight to Hana. She looks so natural in the glass. Beyond her, it looks like I’m underwater staring up. There’s a light ahead that’s interrupted by green and white waves. On my right and left, there’s an endless ocean of water, permeated by light. Unlike the ocean, I can see right through the lit water into the infinite possibilities of more portals and more people and more guides and more watchers and more unknowns. Once again, I try to ignore the panic swelling inside my stomach, creeping up my esophagus. Anchor, anchor, I need an anchor. But nothing is familiar, and nothing feels safe. I trudge harder through the watery world I find myself. Hana looks back at me and must register my panic. She also picks up the pace.

I need to breathe. I need to breathe, right now

The glass ahead still moves like an ocean current. We’re only feet from it, but my face feels like someone’s trying to blow a balloon inside of it.

Hana pulls harder at my hand. There’s a dark outer ring in my vision. Fan-fucking-tastic. If I pass out, I swear to God…

Hana’s leg pushes through the edge of water into what I assume is the other side of the portal. She quickly falls out of the glass, giving me a final tug. We both go flying through the last of the glass. I hit the dirt, face first. I roll onto my back with heaving breaths.

Fiction Snippet: American Spirit

His legs splay out on the mattress, while the pillows and blankets sit at the foot of the bed as an offering to the Greek God Eros. His brow glistens with the mark of a job well done. 

“Fuck, it’s hot. Did you turn on the AC?”

“Yeah.” I slide back into bed, inches apart from him. The fan blows stale air at our heaving chests.

I breathe in deep, feeling the gentle tremble of my legs, and laugh.

“What?”

I shake my head. “Nothing.” My lips part into a wide smile. “Did you still want to smoke?”

“Yeah, kind of.”

“Jesus, you’re cliché.”

He shrugs. “It just feels right.”

I snort. “Well, come on then.”

I throw on a shirt and shorts while he grabs his black briefs and white v-neck undershirt. We file out of the room and venture past the living room onto the small porch of my apartment. He lights up and sucks hard and deep on his American Spirit.

A plume of smoke escapes his puckered lips and like my thoughts, it hangs in the winter air. I shiver and shrink back into the chair, tucking my feet beneath me.

“So,” he says before inhaling again.

“What?” I look up at the cig perched like a bird on his finger.

“Have you heard from him?” Smoke puffs out with each word, like the impending cloud of a train.

My eyes rest back to the dirt patch in front of me. It’s a graveyard of clay pots for crusted plants I forgot to water.

“No.”

He sighs. “Shit.”

“It’s all right. I think I stopped hoping he’ll reach out.”

“Think?”

I mumble a yes.

“All right, then.”

“Can I have one of those cigarettes?”

“Yeah, sure.” 

He tosses me the yellow carton. 

Micro Story: Memories

From before my birth, my mother ran a daycare. My early memories are laced with the faded faces of children I barely remember or speak to anymore. Daycare was conducted in the garage-turned playroom of the single story home of my early childhood and planted on the corner of Second and Vicky.

It seemed so large to me, like walls running on for miles. I felt like a gold fish swimming in a backyard pool. The air was stale and flat, smelling of cement and car oil. Swamp coolers were the only relief from dead, garage air. The walls were the color of sea shells, with just as many imperfections. To the far back and on the right side, a white door let out to the grass land beside the small house.

Inside the room, I sit on a small translucent chair, a color a bright as snow white’s lips. There are cartoon faces on the seats, faded and scratched from jean pockets and constant stacking and unstacking.

A dirty-blonde haired girl I don’t like stalks toward me. Her curly hair nearly covers half of her round, chubby face. She starts to squat onto the chair next to me.

“You can’t seet here. It’s for summun else,” I stutter out. A feeling I don’t recognize pangs in my stomach. It feels like I could throw up, but not quite. I furrow my eyebrows at her. I’d do anything to not have her sit by me.  

“Oh,” she says. She walks away. A mix of pride and shame stir in my chest.

I am not quite four, and I have just told my very first lie.

Excerpt: Beyond the Fragile Glass (Part 2)

By request, here’s the next little segment of the story I posted last week.

“You’ve been struggling lately, and I think I can help,” she says from across the room in sing-song voice.

I cross my arms, pushing my wrists deep into my armpits. “Oh.”

I chance a glance at the girl. From this far away, she almost looks normal. She’s wearing a tight spaghetti strap shirt and a pair of baggy khaki-like pants, like an outfit that’d be popular in Europe or something. Certain parts of her don’t fit—her hair and death lips, for example. It’s like when I used to play video games: the characters looked real, spoke real, acted real, yet there was always something that felt off.

She walks over and tries brushing her hand against my face, but I pull away. All of this is weird and wrong and why is this stranger acting like she’s known me forever? My mouth twists to the side, while I glare the brown and black and purple stains caked into the carpet. I dig my toes into a purple stain that came from a poor attempt at dying my hair—that faded within the week. I look back up at the red-haired girl before me and try to not be jealous of her dye-job.

“There’s a world behind your mirror.”

A chill prickles down my spine, jolting my shoulders. I stand and pace around the room. “I’ve officially lost it.”

There’s a trashcan in the corner, over flowing with paper, crumpled tissues, clothes I decided I hated and cheap jewelry I didn’t need and books I knew I’d never read and letters and cards that family gave me and other shit. I’ve been on a trash-binge lately, I guess. There’s a pile of clothing on my bed that’s probably been there for the better end of a week. I’ve kind of just been sleeping on it. My room is never this messy. I don’t know what’s gotten into me lately. Okay, maybe she’s right. I haven’t been doing so well, but why am I hallucinating? I turn on my heel and glare at her, hoping some explanation might form into tangible words in the air, but nothing happens. I get that same sense again that I’m looking at a video game character. It’s that part of her that doesn’t feel right, that seems off, but that keeps me from running the hell out of my room screaming. Why haven’t I run the fuck out of here? I don’t believe in auras or any of that other shit, but the feeling I get from her tells me that something incredible will happen. She feels like adventure, and I have no idea how else to explain that. Weird as she might be, I want to play along. Curiosity killed the cat, I suppose.

“Okay imaginary human, what are doing here?”

“I’m not imaginary,” she sits next to me on the bed, tucking her feet under her ass. The bed holds her weight as if she weren’t even there, there’s not even a fold or molding. It’s like she’s floating on top. “I want you to come with me to Glass,” she says.

I look up at her. “Glass?”

“That’s what we call the world that lies beyond your mirror.”

“You’re trying to tell me that my mirror acts like some portal to a world far, far away?”

She nods. “But not just your mirror: every mirror.” Her eyes soften, and those pale lips spread, revealing teeth nearly the same color. I think she’s trying to be reassuring, but the attempt gets lost as my mind begins to whirl.

A flash of memories passes before my eyes: bad solos, naked dancing, awkward sexual encounters, tears, speeches dedicated to myself, and a whole slew of embarrassing and personal things I’ve done—all in front of mirrors. My secrets. My deepest, most private moments, all done in front of this mirror. Jesus Christ.

My mouth gapes open.

“Don’t worry. I don’t watch you all day long, all though, I do enjoy your singing.”

I feel hot, and my head does that thing where it gets all light-weight and my chest starts heaving. I think I’m dying. I might actually be dying of shame.

“For fuck’s sake. What a creep,” I almost yell. “You must know me pretty well by now, as well as everyone else who lives there.”

“Only I watch.”

“Huh, oh great. I feel much better.” I roll my eyes. I really wonder if you can die of embarrassment. I snarl and pull myself off the bed. I stomp toward the corner of the room like a stubborn little kid.

“I promise it’s not a big deal, Haize. I was drawn to you, like everyone where I’m from. We’re each drawn to only one person.”

I cross my arms, hoping that maybe I can keep my lungs from exploding. “This isn’t okay. You can’t just watch people.”

She nods. “I know. I wanted to tell you before, but it wasn’t the right time. I’m sorry.” She looks down, and pulls her mouth to the side. My back releases some of its tension.

“What’s so special about this place?” I whisper.

“Come with me and find out,” she says.

Her hand reaches for mine, stalled in mid air, waiting for me to lace my fingers with her. But I don’t. I stare at her hand and the long delicate fingers, calloused at the tips. She doesn’t wear any rings—or any jewelry for that matter—but on her wrist hangs a bracelet made of wound leaves and twigs.

“Trust me,” she says, and her mouth pulls loosely on one side. Her glistening eyes stare deep into mine.

 

Excerpt: Beyond the Fragile Glass (Part 1)

This is a new novel I’m working on–incomplete save a few chapters. This is a little snippet of the beginning (foul language involved).

When a hand jutted through my bedroom mirror, I was a little taken aback—okay, a lot taken aback. If I said my underwear was completely dry, I’d probably be lying.

My first thoughts when she completely came through the mirror resembled something like, shit, I should have cleaned my room and oh my god, my dirty underpants and bra are on the floor and my mom would kill me if she knew I had someone in my room when it looked like this and I wish I had brushed my hair and god, I really want to change my underwear, but quickly followed by the reality that this human came through my mirror, so it doesn’t actually matter that my room is messy or that my appearance is less than favorable because the uninvited, magical creature-human-thing walked through the fucking mirror.

“My name is Hana” is how she announced herself after she came through—her smile wide and welcoming, almost like everything was normal. It’s been a good five or so minutes of me just gaping at her, not speaking. She’s been gracious enough while I try to figure her out.

Her bright red hair—like red, not orange—falls along her hair line in a low ponytail that hides behind her shoulders and neck. She’s got some sharp-ass cheek bones and ice-silver eyes, but the weirdest part of her must be her lips—almost completely white. Even her olive-tone skin is darker, like olive undertone, but these lips are death embroidered in a living corpse. I’m pretty sure she isn’t a zombie, though, since she doesn’t have pale white skin and all her body parts seem to be intact and functioning. Her teeth aren’t pointy for cutting through flesh or sucking blood, so I can rule out vampire as well.

My tongue keeps wagging behind my mouth, but it’s not working to form actual words.

“Wha…what are you doing here?” I finally blurt out.

“I want to show you something,” she says.

I pinch the bridge of my nose. My voice makes some unnatural cracking noise, like a dinosaur or something. My brain already hurts, and my eyes feel heavy.

“And you couldn’t knock on the front door like everyone else?”

She chuckles, “Not really.”

This is a little much for one day. I think I’ll just take a nap. Maybe I’m already napping, and this is a bad dream. That’s probably the case.

“You’re not dreaming.” I look back at her. I hadn’t even realized I’d be staring at my unmade mess of a bed.  “This is the only way I could come. I’m not from around here,” says Hana.

“Well fucking obviously.” I roll my eyes and flop on my bed, making more inhuman grunting noises on my way down. The pile of clothes jumps a bit when I land on top of the mattress and a yellow and black flannel shirt tumbles to the ground. I grumble a few curse words and grab the shirt and throw it back on the bed, and plunk my butt right next to it. A steady stream of water dances on the roof and hits the edge of the window. Fog forms around the outside of my window sill. I inhale deeply, imaging the smell of wet concrete and moist air that will bless my nose. The tightness in my chest loosens a bit.