Read The Rest of Us Just Live Here Online

Authors: Patrick Ness

Tags: #Fantasy, #Urban, #Humour

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

BOOK: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
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Contents

Chapter the First

Chapter the Second

Chapter the Third

Chapter the Fourth

Chapter the Fifth

Chapter the Sixth

Chapter the Seventh

Chapter the Eighth

Chapter the Ninth

Chapter the Tenth

Chapter the Eleventh

Chapter the Twelfth

Chapter the Thirteenth

Chapter the Fourteenth

Chapter the Fifteenth

Chapter the Sixteenth

Chapter the Seventeenth

Chapter the Eighteenth

Chapter the Nineteenth

Chapter the Twentieth

Chapter the Twenty-First

ALSO BY PATRICK NESS

More Than This

The Crane Wife

A Monster Calls

Monsters of Men

The Ask and the Answer

The Knife of Never Letting Go

Topics About Which I Know Nothing

The Crash of Hennington

For my own excellent sister, Melissa Anne Brown, who’s both kind and funny, the best possible combination

I thought I could organise freedom.
How Scandinavian of me.
–Björk

C
HAPTER
T
HE
F
IRST,
in which the Messenger of the Immortals arrives in a surprising shape, looking for a permanent Vessel; and after being chased by her through the woods, indie kid Finn meets his final fate.

On the day we’re the last people to see indie kid Finn alive, we’re all sprawled together in the Field, talking about love and stomachs.

“I don’t believe that, though,” my sister says, and I look up at the slight tension in her voice. She gives me a half-annoyed nod of reassurance in the sunshine, then shakes her head again at Henna. “You
always
have a choice. I don’t care if you think it’s love – and by the way, NOT a word you should throw around so easily – but even if that, even if that word, you can still choose to act right.”

“I said I loved the way he
looked
,” Henna says. “I didn’t say I loved
him
. You’re twisting my words. And that’s not what I’m talking about anyway. I’m talking about … how your heart fills up. Actually, no, it’s not even your heart, it’s your
stomach
. You feel it and everything just
goes
.”

“No, it doesn’t,” my sister says, firmly. “No. It. Doesn’t.”

“Mel–”

“You can feel it, and you can still do the right thing.”

Henna frowns. “Why is it a question of the ‘right thing’? I’m describing a totally normal human feeling. Nathan’s a hot guy.”

I look back down at my History textbook. I touch each of the four corners, counting silently to myself. I see Jared notice.

“You said you had no choice,” Mel pursues. “You said if you’d been able to kiss him, you would have done it right there, regardless of who saw. Or if he had a girlfriend already. Or if Tony was around–”

“I’m not going out with Tony any more–”

“Yeah, but you know how sensitive he is. You’d have hurt him and then you’d have said you had no choice and it would have been bullshit.”

Henna puts her hands over her face in frustration.
“Melinda–”

“It’s something I feel strongly about.”

“I can see that–”

“And don’t call me Melinda.”

“Henna’s right, though,” Jared says, from where he’s lying back with his head on Henna’s butt. “It is in your stomach.”

“On a guy, you’d think it’d be lower,” Mel says.

“That’s different,” Jared says, sitting up. “Your dick or whatever, that’s just
wanting
. Animal stuff. This is more.”

“Yeah,” Henna agrees.

“You feel it right here.” Jared puts his hand on his belly. It’s a biggish kind of belly and we know he doesn’t draw attention to it lightly. “And it’s like, for that moment, everything you believed is wrong. Or doesn’t matter. And everything that was complicated is suddenly, like, yes-and-no simple, because your stomach is really the boss and it’s telling you that your desire is possible and that it’s not the answer to everything but it’s the one thing that’s going to make the questions more bearable.”

He stops, looking up into the sun. We all know what he means.
He
knows we all know what he means. He never really talks about it, though. We wish he did.

“Your stomach isn’t the boss of you,” Mel says, evenly.

“Oh,” Jared says, realizing. “Sorry–”

Mel shakes her head, brushing it off. “Not what I meant. Your heart isn’t the boss of you either. Thinks it is. Isn’t. You can
always
choose. Always.”

“You can’t choose not to feel,” Henna says.

“But you can choose how to act.”

“Yeah,” Jared says. “Hard, though.”

“Early Christians thought your soul was in your stomach,” I say.

There’s a silence as a new wind blows across the grass, all by its lonesome, as if saying,
Don’t mind me.

“Dad told me once,” I say.

Mel looks down to her laptop and starts typing in more homework answers. “And what would Dad know, I wonder,” she says.

The wind picks up a little more (
Terribly sorry
, I imagine it saying; apparently, the wind is British, wondering how it got all the way over here) and Henna has to snap her hand down on a page of an assignment that’s threatening to fly away. “Why do we even have paper any more?”

“Books,” Jared says.

“Toilet paper,” Mel says.

“Because paper is a thing,” I say, “and sometimes you need things rather than just thoughts.”

“I wasn’t really looking for an answer,” Henna says, tucking the page – a handout on the Civil War that we’ve all got – under her computer tablet.

I tap the four corners of my textbook again, counting silently in my head. And again. And one more time. I see Jared watching me but pretending not to. Another gust of British wind tousles my hair. (
Top of the morning!
Oh, no, wait, that’s Irish.) It’s a sunny day for it to be so windy all of a sudden. We only come out here when the weather’s nice enough, and it’s been a weirdly warm April and early May. The Field isn’t really much of a field, it’s more like a property plot that someone never built on because they died or lost it in a divorce or something, a big grassy square at the end of the road from my house with some handy sawn-off tree stumps scattered here and there. Rows of trees block it off from the rest of everything else, too. You’d have to make a point of coming back here to know about it, which nobody does as we’re so far out in the boonies it’s only actual super-thick forest beyond anyway. You can hear coyotes at night and we get deer in our yard all the time.

“Hey,” Jared says, “anyone doing the Reconstruction After the Civil War essay or is it just me?”

“I am,” I say.

“You are?” Mel says, distressed. “I’m doing it, too.”

“Me, too,” Henna says.

“Everyone?”
Jared says.

Mel looks at me. “Could you not? I mean, could you really, really not?”

“I’ve got all these notes, though–” I say.

“But I’m really good on the Reconstruction.”

“So do the Reconstruction essay–”

“We can’t
both
do it. Yours will be all brainiac and I’ll look stupid by comparison.”

My sister always does this. She thinks she’s stupid. She’s so, so not.

“It’ll be better than
mine
,” Jared says.

“Mikey, just let me do it.” And here, I know, most people would be thinking,
Bossy older sister
, and most people who don’t know us would be wondering why we’re both seniors even though she’s more than a year older than me and most people would think they could hear a spoiled tone in her voice.

Most people would be wrong. She’s not whining. She’s asking, kinda nicely for her. And most people wouldn’t see the fear in her eyes over this exam.

But I can.

“Okay,” I say. “I’ll do Causes of the Civil War.”

She nods her head in thanks. She turns to Henna. “Could you do Causes, too?”

“Hey!” Jared says. “What about me?”

“Seriously?” Mel says to him.

“Nah, not seriously,” he laughs. Jared, despite being big and tall and shaving by age eleven and a linebacker on the football team since we were all freshman, is a math guy. Give him numbers, he’s great. Give him words and sentences to put together and his forehead creases down so you can see exactly what he’ll look like when he’s eighty.

“Mel,” Henna says. “You gotta stop–”

Which is when one of the indie kids comes running out of the treeline, his old-timey jacket flapping out behind him. He pushes his fashionably black-rimmed glasses back on his nose and runs past about twenty feet from where we’re all tumbled together. He doesn’t see us – the indie kids never really see us, not even when we’re sitting next to them in class – just crosses the Field and disappears into the opposite treeline, which we all know only leads to deeper forest.

There’s a silent few seconds where we all exchange wtf glances and then a young girl glowing with her own light comes running out of the woods from where the indie kid came. She doesn’t see us either, though she’s so bright we all have to shade our eyes, and then she disappears into the second treeline, too.

None of us says anything for a minute, then Jared asks, “Was that Finn?”

“Which Finn?” my sister says. “Aren’t all the indie kids called Finn?”

“I think there are a couple Dylans,” Henna says, “and a Nash.”

“There are two Satchels, I know that,” I say. “A boy Satchel and a girl Satchel.”

“It was one of the Finns,” Jared says. “I’m pretty sure.”

A pillar of blue light, bright enough to see even in the sunshine, shoots up suddenly from a point where the indie kid (I think Jared’s right, it
was
one of the ones called Finn) and the glowing girl might have run.

“What are they doing
now
?” Mel says. “What was with the little girl?”

“And the lights?” I say.

“They better not blow up the high school again,” Jared says. “My cousin had to have his graduation ceremony in a parking lot.”

“Do you think Nathan is an indie kid?” Henna asks, making Mel groan.

“The name could go either way,” Jared says, watching the pillar glow.

“What kind of a guy transfers to a new school five weeks before the end of his senior year?” I ask, trying not to make it sound like anything, tapping the corners of my textbook again.

“The kind of guy that Henna falls in love with,” Mel says.

“OH MY GOD I DIDN’T SAY LOVE!” Henna shouts.

Mel grins. “You sure seem to have a lot of passion about the subject, though. Or is that just your stomach talking?”

The wind stops, all of a sudden.

“Light’s gone,” Jared says. The pillar of light has faded. We can’t hear the sound of anyone running any more. We watch the woods, not sure what to expect, then we all jump when my sister’s laptop starts playing a song we like. It’s an alarm she set. It means our parents have left our house for the evening to go visit our grandmother.

It means it’s safe to go home.

BOOK: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
6.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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