Excerpt from PARALLAX

Those of you keeping up with the first draft of my WIP, a YA novel about time traveling with trans themes, I’m posting another excerpt today. All excerpts have been posted in order, so to go back and read any earlier episodes, just click on the Parallax tag on the left side of the screen. Enjoy!

I couldn’t let my isolation get the best of me. I determined to push through whatever this was, find out if there was a way to save both mothers and my friends who were in danger.

Looking up again, I saw Jeannine start her engine. I was going to miss her and then not have a way home, 20 miles away.

I leaped up and raced into the parking lot, waving my arms, and saw the flash of Jeannine’s brake lights. She backed up and reached over to unlock the passenger door.

“What the hell, Jack?”

“Can I get a ride?” Each word came out with a pant in between.

“Of course, get in,” she said, looking like she was sizing me up. I leaned over and flicked on the radio, finding an alternative rock station.

“Music has gotten so weird,” I said. This was easy to say because I had no idea who any of the bands were.

“So Jack, what is up with you? Did you cut class all day today?”

“I was in the library until Miss Radise kicked me out.” I had to jump in and tell her what was going on. If anyone would understand me, it was Jeannine.

“What? Why were you in the library,” she asked. I waited for her to stop at a traffic light. The sky had opened up and we were in a downpour. I listened to the windshield wipers give all they had against sheets of rain.

“Remember when I asked you to go to the library with me?”

“Back when we were freshmen,” she said, nodding. The light turned green and she accelerated slowly, as if we could spin out at any moment.

“I went back there again. I know it’s not a hallucination.”

Silence. We crept along, and then Jeannine put on her blinker and pulled to the curb. “I can’t concentrate and have this conversation at the same time,” she said. She turned to me. “Jack, you know how this sounds?”

I nodded. “I know, but I can tell you things I just shouldn’t know. I even left myself a note.”

“You what?” I couldn’t tell if she was exasperated with me, but she was still listening. I really needed her to listen, at the very least.

I explained, as water gushed over the car, the wipers resting and the engine idling gruffly. Jeannine switched off the radio in the middle of a song I liked.

“Who was that?”

“It’s a new band,” she said, “called R.E.M.”

“Rapid eye movement? That’s interesting, to name yourself after something neurological.”

“I suppose so. Can we get back to this time travel stuff? You knew you’d be in the library looking for that map, so you left yourself a note?”

She seemed stiff and angry. I was taking up her time, spewing nonsense. I needed to get her to understand me. I pulled the note out of my jeans pocket, noticing something I hadn’t before. The ink. The ink was rough, soaked into the paper, wide and splotchy. I’d written it with a fountain pen, on good linen paper that we didn’t have in school or at home. It gave me sudden confidence.

Jeannine looked it over, giving my story and my evidence a lot of thought.

“Let’s say this is real. You’re not lying, mistaken, or nuts.”

“Sounds good.”

She smiled at me, but only for a moment. “When do you think you left last? This month?”

I hung my head a little, as if being gone for years was my fault. “I went away in the fall freshman year, and woke up this morning.”

“Holy shit,” she said. The hand holding the note shook a little. “That’s three years, Jack.”

“Oh, it gets even better,” I said.

“I can’t wait.”

I told her about being in the body of Jacqueline, of going back multiple times at different points in her life. Of Lucas, the tree, the growth of the sleepy town, the threats from Dr. Traver and his band of Prohibitionists. She listened, and eventually the rain let up and we began driving again.

“What I worry about is my mother, here. My real mother. She’s sick and the doctors can’t help her.”

“You’ve lost time with her, too,” Jeannine said, making me angry all over again at my predicament. We pulled into her driveway, my house behind us.

“Look, if you at some point figure out how to manage when and how you travel, then you need to get started on learning how. And if you’ve left yourself a clue, you need to study it. I also think you have to put today’s technology to work for you. If the group back then had ham radios, they’d have an advantage over Dr. Traver.”

Why hadn’t I thought of any of this? She was so much smarter than me. Of all the people to be jumping back, why wasn’t it someone better than me?

“I suppose I also should read up on the history of the town, and that Dr. Traver.”

“There’s a reason you gave yourself this date,” said Jeannine, pointing to my note. “Too bad the microfiche is back in the library.”

“Heh, I snuck it out with me,” I said, and I patted my shirt pocket.

“See Jack, you are clever,” she said.

Illustration credit: Drhaggis on Flickr

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Categories: ev's writing


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