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320 pages, ebook
First published March 10, 2015
We collect a few stares from passersby, but they mean nothing. We are young and enchanted and clattering with beads. We are untouchable.
“We can't be kings,” I tell her. “We're girls.”
“So what, we're girls?” Pen says. “We can be anything we want, and tonight I want to be a king of this mad world.”
As we grew up, Thomas and Basil teased Pen and me about the way we cared for each other. I've always suspected there was a bit of jealousy under all of it, that each of the boys knew they had to share the girl they loved. What Pen and I have for each other isn't a threat to our betrothals, but we have each other's hearts just the same.
I put my arms around her, and she tenses, surprised, before she embraces me. “Look at me,” she says miserably. “falling to pieces like this.”
“Anyone else would have fallen to pieces long before this,” I say. “I've lost my wits about a thousand times since we've touched the ground.”
She draws back just enough to look at me. She shakes her head. “You could have been royalty,” she says. “You have the steel of a king and the heart of a queen.”
(...) Celeste puts her forehead to mine. “We haven't seen the last of each other,” she says.
“Don't confuse my philosophies for yours, Little Sister. I'll go on hating everything, and you'll go on finding the good in things that don't deserve it. And we'll never agree, but we'll both be right.”
(...) “I have scars from that day too, Lex. You didn't take a plunge off Internment's edge alone, you know. You took us all with you. Mom, Dad, Alice, and me. We've all had to watch as it took over our lives. That day you crossed the tracks, you didn't think about what would happen to us, not at all. You didn't need Mom and Dad anymore, but I still needed them.” My voice has gotten louder, but it cracks. “I needed them.”
“But I see now that we can't have what other people have. I don't want us to. I've grown up feeling my own way for you, and it's just something that's in me, and I've always known it, [...]. I love you in a way that I've felt never needed to be said. [...] I'm still here when you need me.” [...] We spend the rest of the afternoon at each other's side, [...] but something has changed between us.”
I've recently begun to believe that love is synonymous with madness. It can't possibly be an act of sanity. It is restless and always in pursuit. It will fall from the sky to have what it wants.
Outside, the smell of damp earth and the singing of crickets go on uninterrupted. The basics of nature see no cause to be still for the likes of us.