Wordy Wednesday: The End Where I Begin, Chapter Twelve

This is an exciting week for Movie Nerd Julia, because I get to go to not one, but TWO advance screenings.

Yesterday Hannah and I attended a test screening of How to Train Your Dragon 2. It was AMAZING–went completely above and beyond expectations–and I cannot recommend this movie highly enough, if you enjoyed the first one. We were one of the first ten screenings in the country, so the studio reps (who, by the way, sat DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF US) warned everyone that what we were going to watch was only a rough cut of the film. Hannah and I were both kind of like, “Oh great. Does this mean we’re going to have random clips of storyboards in the middle of the action sequences?” But we honestly wouldn’t have been able to tell that the movie was anything but finished if they hadn’t told us. It was SO GOOD. Buy tickets for when it comes out June 13th.

Then, the other super exciting advance screening I get to attend: Tomorrow a friend and I are seeing The Fault In Our Stars! With all the rave reviews this film adaption’s been getting, I can’t wait to finally see it for myself. (And dude: Not having to wait until June 6th? Always a positive.) I’ll let’cha know how many boxes of tissues I blow through. You can purchase tickets for when The Fault In Our Stars comes out here.

(I’m also attending the country-wide Night Before Our Stars event on June 5th, which involves an early screening of the film plus a simulcast live chat with John Green, the principle cast, Josh Boone, and Wyck Godfrey and mooore. Tickets are still available in some cities, so you can check that out here if you’re interested in nerding out with your fellow fans.)

This week’s Wordy Wednesday is a new chapter of my 2013 NaNoWriMo project, The End Where I Begin.

As always, a reminder that this has seen little to no editing and I’m still in the process of writing the novel, so there will be mistakes and inconsistencies and all that fun stuff throughout.

Read previous chapters:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Twelve

I dream of being in windowless room, something hard against my back. The sterile, thin scent of antiseptic burns my nostrils.

I think I should stop letting people knock me out so often, because this is getting ridiculous.

Then I wake up exactly where the smiling man caught me, and I am perfectly fine, and I am perfectly alone, and the sun has barely moved across the horizon.

I sit up with caution, worried I will be dizzy, my head will throb, my spine will ache from lying atop my backpack. But I am perfectly fine. Like nothing ever happened.

Maybe I imagined it. Maybe the stress of the day has caught up with me and this time when I lost consciousness, it was because I was hyperventilating too badly while I ran from a nonexistent threat.

As I push myself to my feet, my button-down shifts against my right elbow, and I bite my tongue to keep from shrieking. The pain is raw and sharp. I run my fingers down my arm and they come away sticky with blood that has leaked through the fabric. I must have hit my arm when I fell.

I wipe the blood against the ruined sleeve and scowl. I start for home.

But wait—what color was that?

Blood can’t change color, numb brain.

I swipe a finger across my elbow again just in case, but as I do my Identiband catches my eye, and it is the wrong color. Not just flashing the wrong color, but very assuredly stuck on it.

The same color I thought my blood was just now.

I’ve been wrong to think something is wrong with my Identiband this entire time. It isn’t that. Something is wrong with my eyes.

A lump forms in my throat. I’ve never heard of this sort of thing before, someone seeing a color that does not exist. Could I be going blind?

I should tell someone that something is wrong with my eyes, but my stomach twists at the thought.

The Identiband turns back to green.

All I want right now is to curl up in my bed and ignore the rest of the reality for the rest of my life.

I walk the last hundred meters to my house and cut across the dry front lawn to the door.

“Alexa?” Calvin’s voice comes from behind me, panicked and full of air.

I turn. “Hi. I know I probably look terrible, but it’s been a long day. I just want to go to sleep right now, so—”

“Alexa.” Calvin approaches me slowly. His steps are methodical over the crisp grass. His mouth hangs as if it’s on a broken hinge. He tilts his head to one side.

“What?” I glance around me, but see nothing that could cause such confusion. I turn back to my brother. “It truly has been a long day, if that’s what you’re wondering about. First I had to visit the Clinic, and then I had school, and—”

Calvin stops when he is just close enough to touch me. He brushes a hand over my shoulder and his lips angle up in a disbelieving smile.

“What is it, Calvin? What’s wrong?”

“Alexa.” He shakes his head. “That was yesterday.”

I pull away. “What are you talking about?”

He squints at me. “What are you talking about?”

“I just got off the train on my way home from school. I had to stay late to collect the assignments I missed from my teachers. I walked home.” A sinking feeling rises in my stomach—a sensation as impossible as what Calvin has implied. “What do you mean that was yesterday?”

“Today is Thursday. You never came home yesterday afternoon. Everyone’s been looking for you.”

I slouch against the door.

The man who smiled, who chased me—he was real. He drugged me. He kidnapped me.

But I’m fine. Outside of the eye thing, which was already occurring, I’m fine. He let me go.

A cry rises in my throat. “What happened? What happened to me? Why me?”

Calvin wraps an arm around me and sits me on the stoop. I rest my head against his shoulder. I resist the burning in my nose.

“You truly don’t remember a thing?”

“I thought I passed out on the sidewalk. I thought it was only for about an hour.” My words are thick but tiny.

“I need to message Dad. I need to message the police and Susan and Amelia.” Calvin squeezes my shoulders, then stands. He offers me a hand. Some of my blood is stuck to his palm. He grits his teeth at the sight but doesn’t mention it. “Come along. Let’s get you inside.”

As he unlocks the door, I ask, “Dad isn’t home, then?”

“No. He’s out looking for you. Took the day off work and everything.”

Dad hasn’t taken a day off work since Mom died.

I want to throw up.

I drop my backpack in the foyer and start up the stairs.

“Alexa,” Calvin says. I blink away the tears gathering in my eyes and turn back to him. “You can’t remember anything since this time yesterday. Don’t you want to talk about it? Aren’t you, I don’t know, at least hungry?”

I shrug. “I’d rather talk later, if that’s all right. All I want right now is to rest. And actually,” my forehead crinkles, “I’m not hungry. At all.”

“Huh.” He walks towards the kitchen. “Well, I’m in here if you need me. I’m going to message everyone to let them know you’re back. The police will want to talk to you, but I’ll let them know you’re okay so it isn’t urgent.” He pauses in the doorway. “Make sure to clean and bandage your arm, okay?”

I touch the sticky patch of blood. “Thanks. I will.”

Before I have a chance to climb the rest of the stairs, someone knocks at our door.


92Don’t mind me. Just hanging out in my pajamas all day, e’ry day.