Somewhere Between Water and Sky (Shattered Things #2)

BOOK: Somewhere Between Water and Sky (Shattered Things #2)
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Somewhere Between Water & Sky

by Elora Ramirez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright
©
Elora Nicole Ramirez

Published by Burnet Literary, an affiliate of The Story Unfolding

Cover Design Sarah Hansen from Okay Creations

Editing by Lindsay Tweedle from Lindsay Edits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Sarah and Ritz,

without your friendship this book wouldn

t exist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

I heard it said once that every human is a story with skin.

If this is true, paragraphs would be etched in the scars on my wrists.

Whole chapters could be written about the way my heart pounds when I startle awake.

And every single one of my tears could fill a book.

I watch the people sitting around me on the bus. The single mother with two rowdy toddlers, the older couple on vacation with cameras strapped to their necks, the boy rapping beats under his breath and writing in a journal

all of them breathe into this poetry of life.

Normally, I

d want to know their stories. I

d wait for hints of who they were inside, the poetic shifts that make us human. Now I just watch.

The boy rapping pauses with his hand in mid air and thinks for a minute. Breaking into a smile, he nods vigorously and lowers his hand to his paper. I frown. I used to have a piece of that poetry inside. It

s just all a little broken now. I don

t know how to fix the one thing that used to put me back together. The poems still come; I just don

t know what to do with them anymore. If I

m feeling particularly brave, I

ll attempt to scratch them into a journal.

Usually, I just write them with my finger on my jeans. No one needs to read them anyway. Besides, I can

t hold on to them for very long. The silence is on fire and the sentences and scenes that used to extinguish those flames do nothing but fan it hotter and brighter. I

m a new person here

no one knows anything about me. All of my journals are in various trash cans around the city. I fill one up and then throw it away, shedding the skin and finding someone new underneath every single time.

This is how I dare to move forward and believe in a new beginning. I let go of the old. I just grab the new and run. I don

t wait around anymore. I can

t.

Like clockwork

the words disappear at dusk

empty cans filled up

like dust.

 

Rapper boy looks back up and catches me watching him and then offers a shy smile. My fingers pause their lines and curl in to the protection of my hand. I flip my lips upward into a quick grin and then look away before he can strike up a conversation.

I don

t want to know his story.

Stories, with all of their promise, only leave room for disappointment. I don

t have room for that anymore. I left it all

the hope, the love, the promise

back in my old life with the ghosts I

d rather forget: Jude. Emma. Pacey.

Kevin.

Something like grief catches in my throat and a small burst of air escapes through my parted lips.

I miss him. I miss him and I
can

t
miss him. If I give into these feelings

this emptiness

I shake my head and wipe the stray tear on my cheek.

This is ridiculous.

Reaching into my bag, I pull out my phone.
One missed call
shows itself on the screen and I frown. No one has my number. I swipe the screen open and scroll through until I notice UNKNOWN NUMBER in red font.

Red like blood.

I shudder.

After the life I

ve lived, I

m nothing if not over-dramatic. It

s whatever. I feel I

ve earned it.

With a few more quick swipes, I delete the notification and sigh the misgiving away. There

s no voicemail, and so there

s nothing to worry about yet.

No harm, no foul. No one knows your number. No one knows your number.

I

ve learned different but I

m choosing another way of living. I repeat these phrases in my head, tapping the rhythm of the words on my knee.


This seat taken miss?

A gravelly voice cuts into my silence and I fight a groan. A downside to public transportation: everyone thinks they

re a friend and worthy of your personal space. I glance sideways and see a hairy hand resting next to me on the seat, the flesh bulging over a gold ring with a sapphire placed securely in the middle. I squint as the sun grabs a piece of the jewel and paints pictures with it on the side of the bus.

I lift my eyes to the voice in question and curl my lips into what I hope looks like a smile.


Sorry. I don

t think you want to sit next to me. I have a cold.

I sniff and rub my nose for good measure, building a cough from as deep in my lungs as I can muster. The guy laughs and taps me on the shoulder before pushing my bag over to where I

m sitting.


Nonsense. I

m the healthiest I

ve ever been.

He wheezes and squeezes the seat in front of us to help guide him down to the leather.

I just raise an eyebrow and try to count to three.

My anger is a little volatile these days. When counting doesn

t work and I

m working on fighting the need to punch the guy

s meaty arm for not listening to me, I transfer the anger the only way I know how: words. A few lines come to me and I pull up the notebook app on my phone. These lines are keepers. I can feel it in my bones.

You will know the taste of me

by the scars I leave in your sleep.

 

Out of habit, I open up my photo gallery. I have one picture left of Kevin

the only one I allowed myself to keep. I scroll through until I find him and for a moment, imagine what it would feel like for him to look me in the eyes like that again.

I let my mind wander to when I took the picture.

We were at Emma and Jude

s. I smile thinking about those dinners and Jude

s inquisition of Kevin. It took forever for Jude to accept him as a viable possibility for me. I flinch. At least that

s how it seemed. Looking back I wonder what those questions were really about, and if they were a symbol for something entirely different.

This particular dinner, I talked to Emma about some poetry I was writing. I had pulled out my phone to show her the lines I wrote earlier that day and before I was able to hand it over to her, I caught him staring at me. I hadn

t even hesitated. I put the phone in front of my face, pulled up my camera, and snapped the picture.


Caught ya.

I said.

Now you

re forever in my memory.

He leaned forward and kissed me square on the mouth, his hand firmly placed behind my neck

something rare in the presence of Jude and Emma. He eventually moved away and leveled me with those eyes of his.


Oh you already did that a long time ago, Steph.

I rolled my eyes.


Oh please. Go take your charming self somewhere else.

He

d just winked and I

d just smiled and we

d just carried on like we normally did for the rest of the evening

giggling, finding ways to touch, catching the other

s eyes.

It wasn

t so much about me catching him, and he knew it. He caught me the second he walked up to that coffee shop table and said hello.

I look at it now and feel my chest tighten. Those eyes I memorized

I find my finger tracing the outlines of his skin before I set my jaw and click
delete.
The picture vanishes and my heart squeezes in on itself.

I wish memories were that easy to erase.

Names and faces roll through my head and heart like broken records. I glance down at my phone again and before I can second guess myself, delete one of the last pictures I saved of Emma and Jude

s baby Benjamin.

Slowly, I

m erasing the Stephanie Tiller I left behind.

I

m realizing what it means to be free.

From obligation.

From worry.

From the terror of my father and the brokenness of my mother.

I

m learning what it is I

m made of in this flesh and bone. Maybe it

s words. Maybe it

s not. I

m not sure anymore.

Staring out the window of the bus, I watch as LA comes into view and I feel my heart grow lighter by the second. I

m quickly falling in love with this new city. The life

the movement

it

s like poetry in motion. I may not be able to drop words on paper right now, but I can take it in through my eyes. It

s a form of freedom to recognize beauty. I

d seen pictures of the ocean

watched videos and movies with people who lived near it and often imagined what it would be like, sitting on the sand and watching the waves crash over each other.

I think of where I

m staying, a hotel with a kitchenette right outside the city limits and in full view of those waves. Smiling, I wrap my finger around a strand of my hair. The crimson pieces are a sharp contrast to my ivory skin. I raise an eyebrow slightly.

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