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Authors: Amanda McGee

Extraordinary

BOOK: Extraordinary
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Extraordinary

A.A. McGee

 

Smashwords Edition

 

Copyright 2013 A.A. McGee

 

 

 

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Preface

 

If you could live in your dreams what would they look like? How would you decipher what was real and what was fantasy?

Would you find true happiness or fall in love? Did you fly or were you simply falling? Would you take a plunge and awaken with a jump before you hit the ground? Or perhaps you would find yourself frolicking through a meadow or lost in a dark forest?

Who would be there with you? Who wouldn’t? Would you be a participant or a spectator in your own story?

Dreams can point you in a certain direction or dig up an answer buried in your subconscious. Dreams can also terrify you.

But they are only dreams; their memory will fade almost the second they are formed despite how vivid they appeared.

Sometimes a dream is the only way to get your happy ending.

I’ve always felt I knew my dreams better than my reality. The people, places, and weird and wonderful motions were comfortable.  It’s nothing I can explain, just a sense of peace while asleep that I so often sought in my waking hours. 

If reality will invariably disappoint and fantasy provides the most reliable form of satisfaction, then why should I have to wake up?

 

 

 

****

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

To my left stood a young girl, blonde, petite with a smile that seemed out of place considering we were strangers. To my right, a blond guy, tall and brawny, crinkled his brow but he looked like the type whose brow was often crinkled so I paid it little mind. Before a word was spoken, we were sent tumbling into a dizzying vortex, downward through a disorienting kaleidoscope of colors.

For a moment, I wondered the purpose of the two strangers next to me. My heart ached for them, their well-being endangered, but I was just as helpless as they were. We emerged on the other side, the end was nearing.

Then, there was a guy—young, beautiful. His brunette locks were tousled and his dark brown eyes captivated me into forgetting that I was falling. In a field of purple he stood, waiting for me. I wanted to reach for him but, instead, I braced myself for impact with the ground below.

I awoke, jumping clear out from under the covers before we slammed into the approaching earth. I avoided falling off my bed by sheer luck and balance I was unaware I possessed.

“Alex!” Kate yelled. “Get up!”

Her words echoed from downstairs but I did not answer. My mother had died. I was allowed to throw a pity party.

We had been aware of her condition for a few months but no amount of time or planning could prepare me for the loss of my only parent.

I never knew my father. For all I knew at the time he could be dead, in jail, or a Vegas poker player.

“He loved us but he had to go,” my mother would say.

After age eleven I gave up hope and stopped asking about him, which was unusual because I tended to crave answers instead of accepting that there were none. He was never part of my life and I was never compelled to find him or push the issue any further.

My mother was always enough.

Sitting in the hospital room after one of Mom’s treatments, I remembered thinking that my mother had to be the only person capable of appearing optimistic while an unforgiving disease attacked her body. Her glow had vanished, hidden behind a curtain of pale skin and if not for her unfaltering smile and unmistakable positivity she would have been hard to recognize.

When she passed away that day was the darkest I had known. Despite efforts on both our parts to make the day easier, once I could stop pretending for her sake, my pent up emotions erupted leaving behind a powerful, lonely numbness.

And so for the months following the funeral I had hid in my bedroom, ignoring reality.

I treated each day after her death like a dream, as if I would soon wake up from the nightmare to find that my life had not changed at all. 

I had never been particularly bold or spontaneous. I would over-think every situation until I was consumed by it. I shied away from the things most people spent their lives striving for like a boyfriend or several lasting friendships. And I went out of my way to pretend bad things never happened—my dad never existed, my mom never died, and I was not throwing my life away.

I never said my logic made sense.

The sound of Kate’s footsteps catapulted me out of bed. A relentless cloud of despair had been suffocating me for weeks and its grip clung to me despite my efforts—though not particularly well endeavored—to shake free.

Standing face-to-face with myself in the mirror, I did not recognize the girl staring back at me. She was thin, sickly. My skin was paler than usual and the bags under my dimly lit green eyes could have been used as luggage. I couldn’t remember the last time my wavy brunette hair had been anything more than a dirty, misshapen bun piled on top of my head.

The girl that stared back at me judged me.

Shame on you, Alex
.

“Alexandra Ryan, it’s time for you to suck it up,” Kate announced as she barged through the previously closed door to my bedroom.

Strolling past me, she ripped open the curtains and slid the window up. A rogue gust of spring air burst through sending a quiver through my body and goose bumps down my uncovered arms. I gasped as my deadened heart, mind, and body were jolted back to life by the warm wind. The sheer drapes caught the breeze and blew into a twist. My eyes followed their path across my room. Everything remained as I had left it.

My favorite pair of motorcycle boots peeked out from under my bed, dusty from the last time I had stomped them through dirt and leaves. Since I had neglected to turn it off, the muted television showed a commercial for shampoo that apparently made the actress want to spin around in a meadow. I left it on. I would take what I could get. My desk, my clothes, my laptop, my secret stash of celebrity gossip magazines all held their respective positions; only every inch was covered in dreariness…dreariness that I had allowed to enter and never asked to leave.

I moved closer to the window to inhale the familiar scent of salt-water and clean, crisp pre-summer air. The sounds of the world below: the occasional car passing by, the rustling of the tree limbs in the woods a few yards away that had regained their leaves and blooms since I had last bothered to notice, all served as further reminders that despite my absence, the earth continued to spin.

I wondered if this was how all of my days would be from now on: bright and beautiful on the outside, empty and heartbreaking on the inside.

Today was no different than yesterday but something stirred within me. Desperation gripped my insides and banged from within. My life needed to resume sooner rather than later. Maybe I hated disappointing my mother, even if she wasn’t around to witness it. Maybe the dream had jolted more than my bed covers. Maybe I knew that Kate was about to slap some sense into me—probably literally.

“You look like crap,” Kate remarked.

“Kate, leave me…what are you wearing?”

Kate stood before me in a leather jacket, black shorts, and a vintage Bob Marley t-shirt. Her platinum blonde hair fell down her shoulders in perfect bouncy waves as she came to a halt in front of me. Her piercing blue eyes gazed into mine without a trace of apology, but I did not back down. She didn’t intimidate me…much.

Kate always looked like she had just stepped off a runway and could make even the simplest pieces like a jean jacket or cowboy boots resemble a page from Vogue. I never developed a talent for assembling stylish outfits or a desire to learn; I was more inclined to throw on old jeans and t-shirts and be done with it.

Kate would spend hours styling her hair. Each day it was like a different person stepped through the front door. Straight, wavy, up-do, Kate did not discriminate. My hair baffled me, giving the impression that I had spent the morning at the beach. Textured and tousled, anything more than washing and running my fingers through it was a miraculous event. Still, people complimented me more than they should.

“It’s called style,” Kate quipped. “If you’d pick up a fashion magazine, you’d know that.”

“I know what style is. I’m not totally out of touch but its eighty degrees outside and you’re wearing leather for heaven’s sake! This is Knox, Georgia not California!”

“Quit trying to change the subject. You know why I’m here.”

Indeed, I did know. For weeks, I had not dared check my phone, knowing the angry texts and voicemails that awaited me. I didn’t have to answer the phone to hear her lecture on why I needed to pick myself up off the metaphorical floor—Kate had showed up in person to give me the live version, as I knew she would.

“I know you’re sad and, believe me, I am too but you and I both know that Rachel would not stand for you moping around.”

There was no sense in fighting it—Kate always got her two cents in.

“I think even my mother would allot me time to mourn her death.”

“Of course,” Kate said as she yanked clothes from hangers and tossed them on my bed. “But it’s been three months. You aren’t mourning, you’re avoiding.”

“Avoiding what? Kate, my only parent…my only relative in the world is gone. I’d say I’m entitled to avoid or cry or scream or not wash my hair.”

“Here,” Kate mumbled as she handed me the pile of clothing she had haphazardly selected from my closet.

She stripped the sheets from my bed in silence, placing them in a basket in the hallway outside of my room. She then began scooping up the items of clothing I had managed to scatter all over the floor and on various pieces of furniture. The look on her face was difficult to decipher. I was unsure of what my next move should be.

Katherine Elizabeth Chadwick had been my best friend since our first day in Mrs. Parker’s kindergarten class. I had been nervous to go in but Kate was fearless. She’d grabbed my hand, led me in, and never let go.

Our personalities had little in common. I needed a plan; Kate was spontaneous. I preferred blending in; Kate was the center of attention. I was often the stagehand while she played the lead. We meshed into a fortuitous blend of ostentatious and aloof.

I was never jealous of Kate because I had no desire for the blinding spotlight to be pointed in my direction.  If, by some rare twist of fate, the spotlight’s glare found me anyway, Kate was there, guiding me, relishing in my moment without stealing my thunder. Though, I would have given it to her unchallenged.

You really never could be certain of what Kate was about to do, which was why her silence terrified me.

“Kate?”

“You aren’t the only one who lost someone, Alex.”

Kate dropped the dirty laundry and leaned against the foot of the bed. Her shaky hands covered her face but I could tell that she was crying. Kate shedding tears did not happen often—I could count maybe two other occurrences—so I made sure to pay attention when it did. I reached to comfort her but she slapped her hands on her knees and walked across the room.

She’s about to blow
.

“I loved her too you know,” Kate said while gazing out the window. “I know she wasn’t my mother genetically but I loved her just the same!”

“I’m sorry, Kate.”

“Don’t be sorry. Be my best friend. You isolate yourself up here and act like you have no life to live. You have me, you have school, and you have a future. Didn’t you learn anything in your time with your Mom? This isn’t what she would have wanted for you.”

Kate had verbally shaken the pathetic right off me. This was more sentiment than I had ever seen Kate display. I had wondered if she was capable of producing an honest emotional expression.

Kate’s face was as unlined as the day she was born. Versed in the ways of the world and moisturizer, she never found herself burdened by stresses most of us considered routine. Kate managed to remain pure of heart, mind, and appearance, tossing stressors aside like the numerous boys who wished to make her acquaintance. Kate had no time for either.

While my reflection revealed, at least to me, worry lines, the occasional pimple, and a smile tainted by the tortuous years of which I was forced to withstand the unrelenting pain of braces, Kate breezed through unscathed with no more than a few laugh lines to tell her story.

“You’re right,” I said. “I know you’re right and I hate myself for being this way!”

“So stop.”

“Hey, I’m out of bed. Look! Now I’m going to shower! Progress.”

“Good because, no offense, you smell!”

“I do not. But you might. Seriously, who wears leather in the summertime, Kath-er-ine?”

“I retract my previous statement. Take offense because you do, in fact, stink, Al-ex-an-dra.”

“Don’t you have a professor to argue with or sorority sister who needs spray tan advice?”

“You should take that act on the road,” Kate snapped back. “But since you brought it up…what do you intend to do about school?”

I had deferred my first semester at college so that I could devote my time to Mom. When she passed in February, it was too late to enroll in the next term. I prepared to offer up an excuse for why deferring another semester would be the best idea but when I turned, Kate was holding a stack of books and various school supplies.

BOOK: Extraordinary
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