A Memory of Home

This is the last excerpt from Displacement before it comes out—this Tuesday! TWO DAYS!

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Standing in the heated entryway and watching the snow, he finds himself back in an old memory, of him and Alice, waiting out a summer storm. They’d sought refuge in a big concrete tube in an urban playground. That had been a Sunday, too, and they’d weaved their way past swing sets and too-low monkey bars to squeeze themselves into the nearest shelter. Out of the rain it had still been cold because of the wind, and they’d kept their minds off it by playing one of their favorite games.

The rules had been simple: read the other’s mind. At first it had been a grand joke—Alice had seen something on TV about a pair of twins, some cartoon or something. They had superpowers and could talk to each other on the other side of the planet or whatever. But after a while he’d begun to feel like maybe they could. Maybe not tell what Alice was thinking exactly, but at least predict what she’d say next. He thinks she felt the same way.

“Me next,” she’d said. Then she’d squinted at him hard, pinching her chin and pursing her lips, squinching up her freckled nose as though by tensing all the muscles in her face she could help the process along. Jaime had cleared his mind and was thinking of a sailboat.

“Ummm…” she’d tilted her head to the side. “Something wet.”

“Hey not bad!” Jamie grinned. “Except that’s pretty much everything but us right now.”

“No, but like, something that’s wet when it’s not raining.”

“Like a whale?”

“Was it a whale?”

“Nope.”

“Then definitely not a whale.” She grinned back.

“Let me try.”

He rubbed his temples like he saw someone on TV do once and tried to conjure up whatever was going on inside his twin sister’s head.

“A person,” he said at last.

“Yeah, but who?”

“Is it someone…charming? Funny? Generous and kind? Someone who looks out for you all the time?”

Her eyes went wide. “Holy cow, Jamie.”

“I knew it! It’s hard not to think about someone as awesome as me, isn’t it?”

She smirked and tilted her head to the side. “Dork.”

She hadn’t been thinking about him. She’d been thinking about Jack. It hadn’t been mind-reading; she’d always been thinking about Jack. To be fair, so had he, back then.

Things change.

That playground had become theirs over time. In the late evenings, they’d sneak off and squeeze themselves into their hiding hole, their secret base, away from Patton and homework and even Lizzie and Jack, who’d long since given up trying to find them when they wouldn’t be found. Of course, Alice could get by just fine without the others—without homework, too, she was so annoyingly smart—while Jamie had always had to rely on the kindnesses of others.

He’d gone back to the park after she’d died, maybe half a dozen times before they’d moved. He’d sat in the tube, too small now and yet somehow too big and empty. He used to talk to her there, tell her about his days, about the boys and the girls and the drama and the boredom. He’d told her about Patton and Jack and Liz, and about himself, too. He’d said goodbye there, before the move. “Goodbye” and “goodnight” and “I’m moving on.”

Now he sees her in every mirror, and somehow his goodbye seems premature.

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I can’t wait for you all to read it!

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