Read How I Fly Online

Authors: Anne Eliot

Tags: #contemporary romance, #young adult

How I Fly

BOOK: How I Fly
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There is freedom waiting for you,

On the breezes of the sky,

And you ask 'What if I fall?'

Oh but my darling,

What if you fly?

~poem by Erin Hanson, Brisbane, AU~ thepoeticunderground.com

 

 

This is the second book in a two-part story that begins with a book called
How I Fall
. It can be read as stand alone, but it is recommended How I Fall be read first. If you only need a reminder chapter of how book one ended (spoiler alert) the final/epilogue chapter of How I Fall is located at the end of this book.

 

 

Ellen

 

June, after Ellen’s accident.

 

“Ellen, how about you leave the beach-glass necklace here?”

Mom is kneeling next to me. When I slightly shake my head, her eyes dart away from my face, back to the necklace, then back to the suitcase. I want to argue with her like I always do when she brings up the necklace, but I also don’t want to risk a fight on our last day together for the entire summer.

She’s going over the packing list from the Western Ontario Arts Program one last time. Mom’s been a wreck all week. In addition to her normal worries about me, and my Cerebral Palsy problems, like how will I live and breathe
without her all summer? She’s also really sad that I’m going. I’m way more worried about how she’s going to survive without me, considering we’ve never been apart. She’s been refolding and repacking everything I’d already folded three times myself last night because of my own nerves. Yesterday, I gave up trying to stop her from doing it, and today, I knew she’d need to do it one more time. So, Patrick, Laura and I are patiently waiting for
her
to be ready for me to load my stuff into the car along with theirs.

The three of us have been ready to drive away since we heard the news we were going last April. When Mrs. Brown told us we’d won the photography contest, I actually thought she was playing some sort of cruel April Fool’s joke. Once I realized she wasn’t kidding, that our
Iced Trees
photography submission had won the contest, it didn’t take long to understand that we were
all
invited to spend the entire summer—
free of charge
—at the Western Ontario Arts School. It’s been sheer torture waiting for the mid-June start date. Patrick’s been calling our summer program
practice university
, which is really what I think it’s going to feel like, too.

Laura pipes in from across the room, “It’s about to be summer. A whole
new
summer. And no offense to your pretty necklace, but it screams fall and winter, not summer
.
I also think you should leave it here.”

My best friend, Patrick, echoes softly, “Do it, Ellen. You promised.”

“Did I?” I evade, glancing at his annoyed
yes-you-promised-me-like-twenty-times
eye roll. I lean back and stretch my legs out in front of me, trying not to flinch against their solid, unwavering scrutiny. I start flexing my toes, keeping my expression steady, bored even, as I stare down at the worn twine that’s strung with my two most precious things: the two beach glass pendants I made myself—with glass that was handpicked off a secret beach, and just for me by my—

*Sighs. Ex-boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, ex-boyfriend!*

The beach glass was a gift from a guy…okay, fine—my ex-boyfriend. Otherwise known as Cam Campbell. He’s the cute football quarterback I dated for only about two weeks. The boy I kissed a total of seven perfect, butterfly-filled times. The boy I loved, and who
said
he loved me back, all before he dumped me flat. The boy I should not still love.

Because I don’t. I’m sure I don’t.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about him, or worry about him. Or need to take off this necklace.

*Stares at the necklace.
Repeats: ex-boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, ex-boyfriend.*

One pendant is this awesome faded purple-blue color. The other has this cool, opaque white-yellow hue. I hand-glued the silver heart-shaped pendant hanger-things onto the glass myself just before Christmas. That was when I was still stuck in the hospital. I’d fallen in a crowd after a football game and broke both of my legs. Or…more specifically, there was this fight that started because of me. A fight that I was trying to stop, but as usual, I got in the way and stumbled instead.

That was when Cam Campbell fell on top of me and
he accidentally
broke both of my legs.

Which got him removed from my life, thanks to how the entire town and half the country wouldn’t stop talking about it or posting the video of the whole thing on the internet. While I was in surgeries and then knocked out on pain medications, his parents moved him out of our town! He broke up with me over a text, but I didn’t blame him for it because I know his dad probably made him do it. Cam probably had no choice about moving or me or anything, because Cam’s dad was all about making sure that Cam had zero control over his life.

But shortly after that horrible text that said I needed to forget about him, this love letter Cam had written to me arrived at my house, along with these two pieces of beach glass inside the envelope. It was a letter he’d sent to me
before
the accident,
before
he told me he’d never contact me again.

I made the necklace the same day I read the letter. I ignored the breakup text Cam had sent and focused only on that letter and the beach glass. And hope. Which is why Patrick, Laura, and my mom want me to leave the necklace here. They think it’s messed up my head. Because, of course, I have this tendency to hope too much. But in that beautiful letter Cam said he loved me so, so much. He also promised he’d take me out on one of our special piggyback rides. He promised we’d go beach-combing during the summer together, and…well…yeah…it’s summer now and so…that’s what I do. I hope too much about impossible things.

*Stares at the necklace again. Wonders: Does me, still wearing this necklace after all this time, make me more pathetic than even I think I am?*

I want to tell everyone that I need to keep the necklace because the pendants with the little leaves clink perfectly against each other and the sound sort of encourages me to stay strong. I want to admit I have serious doubts I won’t be able to move without it.

But if I tell them that, they will think I’m insane.

Heck, it makes me think I’m insane, but it’s kind of true. I’m used to the necklace being there and I am going to be stuck with these crutches as well as this metal Velcro boot all summer long.

My right leg was only broken in a couple of places. It’s healed, and stronger than ever now, so it’s solid for holding my weight. But the CP leg—the left one that had an extra surgery because I needed my tendons lengthened, as well as its own small break from the accident—is taking longer to heal. It is progressing just fine, but unfortunately it still hurts like crazy when it’s tired. And the dumb thing gets tired all the time.

I can also walk just fine without the boot around it and without my crutches. Slow as ever, but I can do it. But since Nash is not going to be with me all summer to boss me around, he thinks the crutches are necessary. He also thinks the removable boot will be like armor that will keep me and the leg safe. I have to agree with Nash on this one. I like the boot and the crutches. The way it protects my leg feels comforting and gives me confidence. After a surgery I like to keep a bigger personal-space bubble around me because I’m pretty paranoid someone’s going to bump and squish me, or worse, hurt what already hurts. As added bonuses, all this equipment also hides how my foot turns in when I walk. It, plus the crutches, also helps keep me upright and not droop when I’m feeling tired, which still does happen a lot these days.

“Come on, Ellen. You’ve never taken that thing off, ever,” Patrick insists again.

I pull and spin the necklace until it bites into my neck, wondering if this is the time I should tell them that I did take it off once. I wrapped it up in a little heart-shaped box on Christmas Eve, placed it under my pillow, slept with it there all night, and then gave it to myself as a gift from Cam on Christmas morning. But of course I won’t mention that. Because that would be truly pathetic information!

And these prying people already know 99.9 percent of my pathetic information. And again…it does make me sound crazy.

*Slaps my own face. Orders my own self to get my head on straight!*

Patrick says I’m remembering the wrong stuff when it comes to Cam Campbell. He says I need to remember the parts where Cam never called once to check on me. Not while my broken legs healed, and not after my surgery. Not while I cried from how badly all that hurt me, and not when I went from hospital bed to wheelchair to walker to crutches.

*This is just a necklace. A necklace that’s trying to choke the life out of you.*

“Okay. Yeah. You’re right.” I look up. Both Laura and Patrick freeze as they watch me loosen the knots in the twine. “It is definitely a fall season sort of necklace, isn’t it?” I mutter, looking away from all of them as I slowly pull it off my neck.

*Checks if heart has stopped beating. Checks if lungs can still take in air.*

Trying not to breathe funny, I dart another quick glance at Patrick. His squinty expression says he knows that I’m overanalyzing every molecule in the air right now. His expression is one-half love mixed with a pained, ink-black glint that’s flashing the two hundred
Frozen Movie
images he’s sent to me over text:
Let it go. Let it go!

“There. See? That wasn’t so hard.” Patrick spoke gently, but he’s staring at the necklace in my hand with a severe expression, as if he knows I want to put it right back in place next to my heart. He’s lounging in the little reading nook my mom built for me when I was seven. Every time Patrick moves, some part of his giant self knocks around the few stuffed animals and the small pile of favorite books I’ve saved as keepers. As he swings his legs into a sitting position, my fancy boxed set of Harry Potter as well as my tattered Percy Jackson books topple to the carpet. I decide I won’t get upset with him unless my signed copy of
Unmaking Hunter Kennedy
hits the floor. No one hurts the book boyfriend that got me through these few hard months and lives, not even Patrick. I allow myself a last, overdramatic, woe-filled and self-pitying thought:
Book boyfriends are probably all I’ll have for the rest of my entire life. Which is why I need to ask for a new Kindle for my birthday…

Laura flops onto my bed, stomach first, and smiles like she’s proud of me. “Good job, wee Ellen. That necklace was destined to ruin all of the future moments you’re about to have with other boys. It’s all about fate, remember? And we’ve got to start up that fate business at the university with clean and freed-up energy.”

“Other boys?” Mom raises a brow. “I seriously hope not. The program is only eight weeks.”

“Mrs. Foster. Eight weeks is enough for a full lifetime of attachments if you’re in high school like we are,” Laura answers.

“How about none of you get attached to anything besides studying?”

Laura scoots over to rearrange the junk on my bedside table. “No one’s planning on keeping any of them, Mrs. Foster. We’re going to be like fly fishermen. Catch and release, catch and release.” Laura scoots more, this time dangling her feet off my bed so she can rifle through my side table drawers. She pauses and sits up, holding a cute pair of tiny swallow earrings I’d forgotten I owned still stuck to a little paper card. “Look. Already we’ve got a sign. Now that you’ve taken off the necklace, even the
universe
wants you to move on. Look at these wee-flying birds. How about you be finished with necklaces and think only about earrings from now on?”

I want to glare at her, but the way she scrunches up her face and looks so very sincere at the same time makes any sort of bitterness toward this sweet, other best friend of mine completely impossible.

“Good idea. No more necklaces.” I nod.

She shakes the little earring package. “Shall you take them along, then?”

When I nod again, she tosses them into the open suitcase.

Still not meeting my mom’s gaze because I know she and Patrick are probably wondering what I’m going to do with the necklace that’s now glistening in my lap, I distract them all by taking up the tiny bird earrings and placing them directly on my ears.

Laura, oblivious as usual that I’m at war over here, starts talking with her voice all muffled as she noses into the drawers on the far side of my bed. “We’ve won the Western Regional Arts Scholarship program. Months and months have passed us by while we’ve watched you bawl over that heartbreaking, dare I say, jerk—”

“No. Don’t call him that,” I defend Cam. “And I didn’t bawl over him. I bawled because my legs hurt, because PT was horrible, because it was the longest and worst winter of my life. Not over
him
.”

“Sure. Right. Okay.” Laura looks over her shoulder at me and rolls her eyes. Done with her snooping, she hops up, hugging herself. I can tell she’s obviously trying to change the subject by being extra charming. “Just think. The three of us, going off to live in full-fledged
university dormitories
! New life. New boys. New city. Can we
go
already, Mrs. Foster?”

“Again. No new boys,” Mom grumbles. “And yes. We can go.”

Patrick jumps up before I can scoot around to reach for the suitcase zipper, and zips the case for me. Then he helps me to my feet, gently holding on to me until I can get the crutches settled under my arms, but the whole time he’s got one eye on the necklace that’s now in my hand. “It’s been six months since your first relationship.” He waggles his brows at me. “This summer is full of new opportunities. Since I know you haven’t done any research on possible prospects to come, I have!”

BOOK: How I Fly
4.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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