Made you up, p.27

Made You Up, page 27

 

Made You Up
 


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  “When did you get so touchy-feely?” I asked. He wasn’t listening. He stared at the soft cuffs, at the metal clasp that jangled between them. “They’re a precaution,” I said before he could ask. “I had to wear them so I could come here. Apparently the school was feeling sentimental enough to let me back, but not sentimental enough to risk a lawsuit.”

  “I don’t like this,” he said.

  “Yeah, well, join the club.”

  “When are you going?”

  “Tonight. Right now, actually. It was supposed to be this morning, but since the school agreed to let me come here, they pushed it back . . ..”

  His frown deepened.

  “It’s not like I have anything to wait for.”

  “Fine. I’ll come visit you tomorrow.”

  “At—at Woodlands?”

  His eyebrow shot up. “What, did you think you were going to get rid of me that easily? You should know by now—I’ve got the tenacity of a cockroach.”

  I blinked at him. “Surely you’ve got better things to do.”

  He shrugged. “I’ve got a few pretty good ideas, but they can wait.”

  “We need to go!” one of the orderlies called. I waved my hands to show I understood, then turned back to Miles.

  “So . . . I guess . . .” I took a quick step forward, hiding my face in his graduation robe. “Stop looking at me like that!”

  He laughed—I could hear and feel it—and hugged me tightly. Soap and pastries. After a moment he pushed me away.

  “Are you crying?”

  “No,” I said, sniffling. “My face hurts when I cry, so I don’t do it.”

  “Right.”

  My face did hurt, now that I thought about it.

  “I don’t want to leave,” I said.

  Miles said nothing. There really wasn’t anything he could say. Everything was over. There would be no more adventures for us. It was time to go.

  He leaned down and kissed me. Then he hugged me again. I grabbed the front of his robe with both hands and pulled him down so I could whisper into his ear.

  “Ich liebe dich auch.”

  I made my way back to the orderlies waiting by the car, swung myself into the backseat, buckled myself up, and turned around. Miles stood alone on the dark sidewalk, his hand brushing the spot on his chest where my tears had stained his green robe. I waved halfheartedly, one hand dragging the other up by the wrist.

  Miles raised his other hand, but it fell back down as if it were too heavy to hold up. I watched as he grew smaller and smaller, along with the sidewalk, the parking lot, the school, and the oversized stadium. Then we passed a row of trees and he was gone.

  I turned back around in my seat and listened to the orderlies talking, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” playing on the radio, and the steady thrum of the car’s engine.

  I rested my head against the car window, watching the warm night streak by outside, and smiled.

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  Epilogue: The Freeing of the Lobsters

  “So that’s how it happened,” I said.

  “That was very detailed for such a long story.” Lil trimmed off a little more of my hair and fluffed it out. It just hit my shoulders—my head felt light.

  “Well, yeah, it’s a lot to remember, but I wasn’t going to forget bits and pieces of it, right? What kind of story would that be?”

  “Mm-hmm.”

  Lil rarely believed the stories I told her. As far as she was concerned, East Shoal and everything that had happened was nothing but a figment of my imagination.

  It didn’t matter; I was getting out today.

  “So what happened to Miles?” Lil asked.

  “What do you mean, what happened to him? He comes to visit me every weekend.”

  “He does?”

  “If he came during the week, you would’ve seen him.”

  She stood in front of me, a tiny line forming between her eyebrows. She didn’t think he was real. She never had.

  Lil finished with my hair and helped me pack my suitcase. I’d started throwing things in this morning, when I didn’t really care about space conservation. I found the mess charming. Lil looked disgusted.

  The rest of my room was bare now. Everything was ready to go, except the chunk of Berlin Wall perched on my desk. I swiped it up, running my fingers over the rough surface. Some places were starting to wear smooth where I always stroked them with my thumb. More than once Lil had woken me up and scolded me for having slept with it hugged to my chest. I tried telling her I didn’t take it to bed on purpose, that I must’ve woken up in the middle of the night to get it. She didn’t believe that, either.

  I waved goodbye to the other patients—my friends, as strange and as absurdly normal as that was—as we passed the rec room, the place where I’d spent every weekend for months with Miles. He seemed to find it perfectly obvious that he should come and visit so often, when it was so out of his way.

  Now, finally, I got to go to him. All I had to do was sign out at the front desk and walk the last long mile to the door. And I’d be free.

  When I shouldered my way out of the building, blinking in the autumn sunlight, I looked down the walk and found a sky-blue pickup parked along the curb. Miles leaned against the truck’s side, looking familiar in an old baseball shirt and bomber jacket. Something had changed in his face since graduation, though. Every time I saw him, he was a little brighter, a little happier, a little more excited about whatever the day had in store for him.

  “That is Miles Richter,” I said to Lil. “And he is not imaginary, thank you very much.”

  I took my suitcase, gave her a hug, and approached Miles.

  I stopped in front of him, smiling. He smiled back and leaned down to kiss me. A feeling erupted in my stomach, like nothing would ever be the same again. Like good karma was catching up with me. Like someone had opened up the lid to my lobster tank and I was finally breathing in the shockingly fresh air.

  “Ready to go?” His smile looked permanent. The tiniest German accent wrapped around his voice. “They’re all waiting to see you.” His fingers absentmindedly traced the scars on the left side of my face, but they were fading now, and didn’t hurt anymore. I didn’t try to stop him.

  I climbed into the truck, breathing deep the smell of mint soap and pastries. He tossed my stuff in the truck bed.

  “I bet they’ve made up stories,” I said.

  “Oh, they have.” He glanced at me as he closed the passenger door. His impossible blue eyes sparkled in the sun. “They have, trust me. But they aren’t as good as the real thing, of course.” He slid into the driver’s seat. The truck roared to life.

  I glanced back only once as Miles pulled away from the curb. Wisps of violin music floated on the air. Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.”

  I turned away and closed my eyes.

  “They never are.”

  UNCORRECTED E-PROOF—NOT FOR SALE

  HarperCollins Publishers

  ..................................................................

  About the Author

  FRANCESCA ZAPPIA lives in central Indiana. She majors in computer science at the University of Indianapolis and started writing this book when she was eight years old.

  Twitter (@ChessieZappia)

  Tumblr (exeuntstormtroopers.tumblr.com)

  www.francescazappia.com

  UNCORRECTED E-PROOF—NOT FOR SALE

  HarperCollins Publishers

  ..................................................................

  Credits

  Cover art © 2015 by Triston Lane

  UNCORRECTED E-PROOF—NOT FOR SALE

  HarperCollins Publishers

  ..................................................................

  Copyright

  This book is a work of fiction. References to real people, event
s, establishments, organizations, or locales are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, and are used to advance the fictional narrative. All other characters, and all incidents and dialogue, are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.

  MADE YOU UP. Copyright © 2015 by Francesca Zappia. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, decompiled, reverse-engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.

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  The text of this book is set in TK.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  ISBN 978-0-06-229011-3 (hardback)

  EPub Edition November 2014 ISBN 9780062361394

  15 16 17 18 19 TK 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  FIRST EDITION

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  Francesca Zappia, Made You Up

 


 

 
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