All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart.
I want to be the friend you fall hopelessly in love with. The one you take into your arms and into your bed and into the private world you keep trapped in your head. I want to be that kind of friend. The one who will memorize the things you say as well as the shape of your lips when you say them. I want to know every curve, every freckle, every shiver of your body. I want to know where to touch you, I want to know how to touch you. I want to know convince you to design a smile just for me. Yes, I do want to be your friend. I want to be your best friend in the entire world.
And I've fallen.So hard.I've hit the ground. Gone right through it. Never in my life have I felt this. Nothing like this. I've felt shame and cowardice, weakness and strength. I've known terror and indifference, self-hate and general disgust. I've seen things that cannot be unseen.And yet I've known nothing like this terrible, horrible, paralyzing feeling. I feel crippled. Desperate and out of control. And it keeps getting worse. Every day I feel sick. Empty and somehow aching.Love is a heartless bastard.
And he leans in, so carefully. Breathingand not breathing and hearts beatingbetween us and he’s so close, he’s so close and I can’t feel my legs anymore. I can’t feel my fingers or the cold or the emptiness of this room because all I feel is him, everywhere,filling everything and he whispers“Please.”He says “Please don’t shoot me for this.”And he kisses me.His lips are softer than anything I've ever known, soft like a first snowfall, like biting into cotton candy, like melting and floating and being weightless in water. It’s sweet, it’sso effortlessly sweet.And then it changes.“Oh God—”He kisses me again, this time stronger,desperate, like he has to have me, like he’s dying to memorize the feel of my lips against his own. The taste of him is making me crazy; he’s all heat and desire and peppermint and I want more. I've just begun reeling him in, pulling him into me when he breaks away.He’s breathing like he’s lost his mind andhe’s looking at me like something has brokeninside of him, like he’s woken up to find thathis nightmares were just that, that they never existed, that it was all just a bad dream that felt far too real but now he’s awake and he’s safe and everything is going to be okay andI’m falling.I’m falling apart and into his heart and I’m a disaster.
Kenji snorts.“That’s because you’re not fragile,” Kenji says. “If anything, everyone needs to protect themselves from you. You’re like a freaking beast,” he says. Then adds, “I mean, you know—like, a cute beast. A little beast that tears shit up and breaks the earth and sucks the life out of people.
Kenji has a hand pressed to his mouth, desperately trying to suppress a smile. He’s shaking his head, holding up a hand in apology. And then he breaks, laughing out loud, snorting as he tries to muffle the sound. “I’m sorry,” he says, pressing his lips together, shaking his head again. “This is not a funny moment. It’s not. I’m not laughing
I’m not an idiot, Kenji. I have reasons for the things I say.”“Yeah, and maybe I’m just saying that you have no idea what you’re saying.”“Whatever.”“Don’t whatever me—”“Whatever,” I say again.“Oh my God,” Kenji says to no one in particular. “I think this girl wants to get her ass kicked.”“You couldn’t kick my ass if I had ten of them.”Kenji laughs out loud. “Is that a challenge?”It’s a warning,” I say to him.“Ohhhhhh, so you’re threatening me now? Little crybaby knows how to make threats now?”“Shut up, Kenji.”“Shut up, Kenji,” he repeats in a whiny voice, mocking me.
I’m not sure. But there’s something about the darkness, the stillness of this hour, I think, that creates a language of its own. There’s a strange kind of freedom in the dark; a terrifying vulnerability we allow ourselves at exactly the wrong moment, tricked by the darkness into thinking it will keep our secrets. We forget that the blackness is not a blanket; we forget that the sun will soon rise. But in the moment, at least, we feel brave enough to say things we’d never say in the light.
Because I was dying. And Warner could’ve let me die. He was angry and hurt and had every reason to be bitter. I’d just ripped his heart out; I’d let him believe something would come of our relationship. I let him confess the depth of his feelings to me; I let him touch me in ways even Adam hadn't. I didn't ask him to stop. Every inch of me was saying yes. And then I took it all back. Because I was scared, and confused, and conflicted. Because of Adam. Warner told me he loved me, and in return I insulted him and lied to him and yelled at him and pushed him away. And when he had the chance to stand back and watch me die, he didn’t. He found a way to save my life. With no demands. No expectations. Believing full well that I was in love with someone else, and that saving my life meant making me whole again only to give me back to another guy. And right now, I can’t say I know what Adam would do if I were dying in front of him. I’m not sure if he would save my life. And that uncertainty alone makes me certain that something wasn't right between us.
And I do. I do wonder, I think about it all the time. What it would be like to kill myself. Because I never really know, I still can't tell the difference, I'm never quite certain whether or not I'm actually alive. I sit here every single day. Run, I said to myself. Run until your lungs collapse, until the wind whips and snaps at your tattered clothes, until you're a blur that blends into the background. Run, Juliette, run faster, run until your bones break and your shins split and your muscles atrophy and your heart dies because it was always too big for your chest and it beat too fast for too long and you run.Run run run until you can't hear their feet behind you. Run until they drop their fists and their shouts dissolve in the air. Run with your eyes open and your mouth shut and dam the river rushing up behind your eyes. Run, Juliette.Run until you drop dead. Make sure your heart stops before they ever reach you. Before they ever touch you.Run, I said.
They filled our world with weapons aimed at foreheads and smiled as they shot 16 candles right through our future. They killed those strong enough to fight back and locked up the freaks who failed to live up to their utopian expectations.
Hope.It's like a drop of honey, a field of tulips blooming in the springtime. It's a fresh rain, a whispered promise, a cloudless sky, the perfect punctuation mark at the end of a sentence. And it's the only thing in the world keeping me afloat.
Because a quiet night is not the same as a silent one, a firm man is not the same as a steady one, and a bright light is not the same as a brilliant one.
We're too different now. We want different things. And this? I say nodding at our hands. All this managed to prove is that you are extremely good at turning me off
I spent my life folded between the pages of books.In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.
I love walking into a bookstore. It's like all my friends are sitting on shelves, waving their pages at me.
Are you out of your goddamn mind? You think we can take on two hundred soldiers? I know I am an extremely attractive man, J, but I am not Bruce Lee.”“Who’s Bruce Lee?”“Who’s Bruce Lee?” Kenji asks, horrified. “Oh my God. We can’t even be friends anymore.”“Why? Was he a friend of yours?”“You know what,” he says, “just stop. Just—I can’t even talk to you right now.
Alice couldn’t explain why, exactly, but she knew now that things had changed between them. Oliver had become her friend in an absolute, uncomplicated way. She was done fighting him, and he was done lying to her.
So,' he says. 'When's the big day? Have you set a date yet?''What?' I startle. 'For what?''For the day you're going to stop being such a dumbass,' he says shooting me a sharp look.'Oh.' I cringe. Kick at the air. 'Yeah, that'll probably never happen.''Yeah, you're probably right.''Shut up.
She could see all of Ferenwood from here: the rolling hills, the endless explosion of color cascading down and across the lush landscape. Reds and blues: Maroon and ceruleans. Yellow and tangerine and violet and aquamarine. Every hue held a flavor, a heartbeat, a life. She took a deep breath and drew it all in.
The moon is a loyal companion.It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human.Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.
I never thought it would get this bad. I never thought the Reestablishment would take things so far. They're incinerating culture, the beauty of diversity. The new citizens of our world will be reduced to nothing but numbers, easily interchangeable, easily removable, easily destroyed for disobedience.We have lost our humanity.
The afternoon our story begins, the quiet parts of being alive were the busiest: wind unlocking Windows; rainlight nudging curtains apart; fresh-cut grass tickling unsocked feet. Days like this made Alice want to set off on a great adventure.
My body is cracking from the pain I have swallowed so Many times, heaving with sobs I can no longer suppress, my dignity dissolving in my tears, the agony of these past few days ripping my skin to shreds.
I count everything. Even numbers, odd numbers, multiples of 10. I count the ticks of the clock i count the tocks of the clock I count the lines between the lines on a sheet of paper. I count the broken beats of my heart I count my pulse and my blinks and the number of tries it takes to inhale enough oxygen for my lungs. I stay like this I stand like this I count like this until the feeling stops. Until the tears stop spilling, until my fists stop shaking, until my heart stops aching. There are never enough numbers.
I’m a starving child trying to stuff my stomach, gorging my senses on the decadence of these moments as if I’ll wake up in the morning and realize I’m still sweeping cinders for my stepmother.But then Adam’s lips press against my head and my worries put on a fancy dress and pretend to be something else for a while.
Mother often said that she could never be bothered to understand why Alice did the things she did, and now, more than ever, Alice thought never being bothered was a very lazy way to love someone.