Read Away From Everywhere Online
Authors: Chad Pelley
Tags: #FIC019000, #Fiction, #Brothers, #Psychological, #book, #General
AWAY FROM EVERYWHERE
A NOVEL | CHAD PELLEY
LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION
Pelley, Chad, 1980-
Away from Everywhere / Chad Pelley.
PS8631. E4683A92 2009 Â Â Â Â Â C813'.6 Â Â Â Â Â C2009-902809-3
Â© 2009 Chad Pelley
Front cover photograph: Christian Kuddler / Source: PHOTOCASE Back cover photograph: “Muffinmaker” / Source: PHOTOCASE
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher or a licence fromThe Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright). For an Access Copyright licence, visit
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BREAKWATER BOOKS LTD. acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts which last year invested $20.1 million in writing and publishing throughout Canada. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund for our publishing activities. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador through the department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation for our publishing activities.
Printed in Canada
FOR EVERYTHING THAT CANNOT
BE PUT INTO WORDS
“All happy families are the same;
all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way.”
LEO TOLSTOY FROM
PART ONE A LINE CROSSED BECOMES A WALL
OH TO BE SQUAT BETWEEN A WALL AND A LOVER
TURN AROUND, TURN EVERYTHING AROUND
IF FISTS CoULD SPEAK OR WORDS COULD HEAL
WAITING FOR DECEMBER, FOR SOMETHING THAT NEVER COMES
WITH ALL THE JEALOUSY OF A FLIGHTLESS BIRD
AWAY FROM EVERYWHERE ORIGINS AND UNEXPECTED OUTCOME
A LINE CROSSED BECOMES A WALL
IT WAS THE HARSH CONTRAST of her blood on everything around them that he remembered the most. The warmth of her blood on the cold of his flesh. The dark red handprint on the beige headrest of the back seat, smeared downwards from where she tried to lift herself up off the floor â but fell back down. There was a puddle of it on her belly, too much to soak into her white shirt. When he spun around in the driver's seat to face her, he expected widened eyes and an adrenaline-flushed face, but she was just lying there, so ghostly still and quiet, so deaf to his shouting and unaffected by his panic. Only her eyes were moving, scanning their bodies and assessing the damage.
How are we going to explain this?
The affair, she meant, not the accident.
Hydroplaning felt like a circus ride gone wrong, like having his sense of control gutted and guillotined. All sounds were muffled by the forward momentum, and the car felt weightless as it slid across the highway's yellow lines. He turned the wheel, hand over hand. He pumped the brakes, but there was no stiffness there, no resistance, and the car dove into the forest, snapping limbs off trees. It felt more like the forest was coming at him, from all sides. Like a whir of brown and green was devouring the car, chewing on it. Branches shrieked and punched against the sides of the car: scouring paint, denting steel, busting glass.
It all ended in one dull thud â his body thrust forward, then snapped back into place by a seatbelt. The sulfuric smell of deflated airbags filled the car, and smoke â palpable and salty â burned its way down into his lungs and had him panicked, choking, looking for flames. There were none, and the relentless rain would have doused any fire anyway.
The tree trunk that finally stopped the car punched a V into the hood, and the sudden stillness, the lack of motion, was jarring. It felt like it was raining rocks, that the car was being dented, that the metal frame wouldn't last much longer. Any sounds in the blackness of that forest were washed out by the drumming of bullet-sized raindrops on the bonnet of the car; they even snuffed out his throat-cutting cries for help. It felt like he was screaming under water: futile and exhausting. Hannah made no sound at all. She had been lying down across the back seat before the accident, and the impact threw her to the floor. He turned the rearview mirror down, slowly, afraid of what he'd see. She lay there on her back, in a pile of dirty leaves and busted glass, staring at Owen through vacant eyes. He couldn't tell if she was vomiting blood or coughing it up. He didn't know which would be worse. Which to hope for.
“Hannah! Can you breathe? Can you even
He reached down behind the seat and shook her, like he could jumpstart her with a vigorous shake of her limp arm. The pool of blood on her stomach felt hot on the back of his hand, and with walls of trees and rain blocking out any light, it looked as thick and black as oil. As they waited for help, he could see life coming and going in her eyes: her soul hesitant but ready to leave. Her charcoal pupils the boundary. She was a beautiful thirty-four-year-old, with messy brown hair, who looked more like a child now than a mother of two.
With each howl of December wind, a cold gush of rainwater barreled in through a broken window like a slap across Hannah's face. That's how she saw it, a slap across her face, punishment for what she'd been doing. He saw that in her eyes, they said it all and more. They were billboards to her emotions, flashing guilt, regret maybe. They said that she was scared to die and aware they'd be found out, and that neither fate felt worth the fight for her next breath. She gasped, her punctured lungs struggling for air, and he knew it was her two children she was thinking of. Not him, not Alex. There was a steady stream of tears, but no sounds.
He gave up on his cell phone: the battery had cracked into three triangular pieces. He turned again to Hannah. She wasn't even blinking now. She never even closed her eyes as the wind threw water onto her face, pressing her hair into her forehead and making her blood glisten a brighter red. Her eyes jerked back and forth between his face and the blood on her hands, her long slender fingers outstretched. She seemed more confused than frightened.
“Hannah!” Only panic in his utterance. Like the word could've been any word.“Hannah, I don't have a phone. Weâ¦ we â¦need to find your phone â¦
Nothing. No response. Just more coughing, more blood. Some gurgling now, and then his own stomach felt weak. She looked like someone punched stupid, beaten into a daze.
He struggled to get out of the car and dash down to the highway, but the door was butted up against a rock. It looked like a shark fin: grey, wet, and bumpy. He tried to climb out the window, but his left leg wouldn't take his weight, and he fell back into his seat. The adrenaline had numbed the pain. Every time he tried to put weight on that leg, it felt more like intense heat and pressure than pain, and he shrieked in a way that hollowed him out. He looked down and saw a snapped bone pressing against his skin, just shy of poking through. An inch below his kneecap, his tibia had snapped from his fibula, and the bones were stabbing him from the inside out like a prong.
your phone!”He looked at her face and saw two deep lacerations on her chin: claw marks, like a bear had taken a swing at her. He saw one more slash above her left eye, so deep her eyebrow was disconnected. He knew the cuts would form scars, and the guilt threw tears into his words. “Hannah. Where is yourâ”
She turned her head, slowly, towards her purse, pointing with her eyes. He reclined his chair, slung an arm over the passenger seat, and hauled himself half onto the back seat. He looked down on her and her eyes were twitching, like she was seconds from a seizure. His tears mixed with rain and snot and dripped down onto her. He wiped hair from her face, tucking it behind her ears, and kissed her forehead.
He dialed 9-1-1, and with the help of the calm, gentle voice on the other end, they scrambled to work out where the car had gone off the road.
“I'll turn on the high beams. And the hazard lights. I'll blare the stereo. You'll find us â¦