Wow, I'm soooo stupid that for some reason I spent like all of yesterday thinking it was Monday. Or I didn't think it was Monday but I kept thinking "Tomorrow is Tuesday!" So naturally, I didn't post a Tuesday Teaser as I promised. So now I will cheat and post a Wednesday Teaser (even though that ruins everything because there's no alliteration).
Here is a snippet from Unraveling. Yes, it's supposed to confuse you, even if you've read the whole thing. Haha. But just to give you a little bit of context, Mia––the main character––is going back to her hometown to visit her ex-friend, Emily. Some mysterious thing happened that broke their friendship part, but the reader doesn't know what it is (yet). The whole thing is narrated as if Mia is speaking to Emily, just to clarify why a lot of it is in second person. CONTAINS SOME SWEARING (nothing too heavy though, just if you're uber-sensitive about that kind of thing, I thought I'd give you a little warning.)
Shannon stares at me like she expects me to disappear. I probably look like crap; it's a wonder she recognizes me. I run a hand through my hair, trying not to cringe at every snarl that my fingers encounter. “Hi,” I manage to say. My voice probably matches my appearance: worn down, exhausted, defeated.
“Wow. Oh, my God. Hi.” Her freaky blue eyes look about ready to burst from her head. Her mouth twitches, like she can't decide whether to smile or not. “This is … whoa. I can't believe you're here.”
“Neither can I.”
She bites her lip, pulls the strap of her purse up further onto her shoulder. “So, um. Mind if I sit down?”
“No. Yeah, it's fine.”
She shuffles over to the seat across from me, her flip-flops slapping against the tiled floor. She sits down, right in that chair where you always used to sit. I guess, if I was looking out of the corner of my eye, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. She has the same color hair as you, Emily, just a little lighter in shade. She doesn't have a single freckle on her face, though. And her eyes are too bright. But, you know, no one can be you. I know, because I tried.
Shannon immediately starts picking up sugar packets and fiddling with them, turning them over and over in her fingers. She puts her purse down on the table, picks it up again. “Uh, you know, I should go buy my coffee first. I'll be right back.”
She comes back a minute later, plastic cup of iced coffee in hand. I watch as she dumps about five packets of sugar into it and stirs it with her straw.
“So, you're on vacation now?” she asks.
“Yeah. It's the first day.”
“Cool. We got out on Wednesday.”
I don't look at her. I watch droplets of condensation bead up on the glossy surface of the plastic cup and run down its side, pooling on the tabletop.
“So. Are you okay?” Shannon says.
That's always the question these days. I started realizing there had to be something wrong with me, when people never asked me “How are you?” anymore. It's always “Are you okay?” now, like they don't even have to bother to inquire whether I'm in a good mood or not.
I shrug one shoulder, heat rising to my face.
“I'm sorry,” Shannon blurts. “I know, that was a dumb question.”
“It's okay.” I sit up a little straighter in my chair, clear my throat. “I've, uh, been getting better.”
“Good. Well … That's good.” Shannon picks up her coffee and takes a sip, before setting it down again. The silence stretches out like a fathomless ocean between us, dark and deep.
“You know, I––I'm really sorry,” Shannon says.
My eyes sting. I swallow. God, I'm just so … tired. And I'm sick of people apologizing. It's the only thing people seem to be able to do.
“Don't be.” I finally gather the courage to look up, and Shannon is staring back at me like she's afraid I'm going to slap her. She sits at the edge of her seat, and I almost expect her to get up and leave without another word.
Shannon looks down, stirring her coffee again. The ice cubes rattle against the plastic interior of the cup. “Mia––you shouldn't be mad at her.”
Something stirs in the pit of my stomach, and I don't know if it's just because I'm hungry. I still haven't taken a bite of my muffin, but I don't really feel like eating. I feel like you're standing behind me, Emily, waiting for me to speak.
“I know. I'm not,” I lie.
Shannon sits perfectly still, like it's too hard for her to think and stir coffee at the same time. “It wasn't her fault.”
I nod, and I hate myself for it. Your phantom-like presence is still standing behind me, smiling in triumph.
Shannon seems to lose interest in her coffee. She leans back in her chair and gazes out the window. She laughs, but not happily. “Shit, Mia. I don't know … Maybe you don't believe it, but it wasn't just her. It wasn't the things she said or did, or what you did. It wasn't your fault, either.” She lets out a shaking breath, rubbing her hands over her bare knees. “It wasn't just the two of you. It was the whole damn school. It was all of us. You know?”
Shannon shakes her head. “I'm just saying. You know how people get. They just want to, like, fit in. And then there's that whole 'mob mentality' kind of thing. They go along with everyone else, just because they don't want to be outcasts or whatever. And, you know, it's not like anyone tried to help you. No one stood up for you. But I'm saying, that doesn't mean they believed everything she said.”
You'd be happy to know, Emily, that I doubt that. I think they all believed it. You've always had that ability to turn everyone in your presence into a helpless little puppy dog, looking up to you for guidance. All you have to do is say the word, and they hang off of every syllable like it's sacred. All you have to do is widen your pretty blue eyes and the world bows at your feet.
“I'm not saying that people don't talk about it,” Shannon goes on. She reaches for her coffee again, drinks some more, swirls the cup around absently. “They still say things. But, you know, don't take it personally. I've just always felt bad about it. I would've stuck up for you, except I was just as scared as anyone else was. But Emily … she lied. I know that, and I think everyone knows.”
It's the first time I've heard someone say your name out loud like that in a long time. It shocks me back to reality. I haven't seen you in such a long time, sometimes I forget that you're a real person. I forget that you're still on the face of the planet. And I'm not sure whether remembering makes it better or worse. It feels like a pound of ice cubes are sitting at the bottom of my stomach.
Shannon lets out a long sigh, before she continues. “Hell, it's been––what? Two years by now? That's the sad thing, you know. People don't realize how stupid they were being until afterwards. I don't know about everyone else, but I think the whole thing was so dumb. And I'm sorry I went along with it.”
Shannon makes another attempt at a smile. “I'm sorry. Am I being totally weird?”
“I know. Sorry. It's just, you know, I figured I might as well say something before you go off and disappear again.” She picks up her coffee and examines it like she's never seen it before. “So, what are you doing here, anyway?”
I shrug again. “Nothing. I just thought I'd come back. I haven't been here in so long.”
“Yeah.” She takes another drink of coffee. “It's like you totally disappeared from the face of the earth. Where have you been?”
Shannon rolls her eyes. “Well, obviously. But you also, like, cut off all contact from the rest of the world.”
“Yeah, well. I kind of wanted to just get away from it. Away from … this town. From everything.” From you, Emily.
“Right,” Shannon says. “Makes sense. I mean, I see where you're coming from. I would've done the same thing.”
I always hate when people say that. Would have. Could have. Should have. I could make a list about ten miles long of everything that could have happened, of everything I should have said and done. And what's the use in thinking about something that didn't happen and never will? When it's too late to turn back, the only thing you can do is let go. But we're so stubborn that way, holding onto things that could have been. It's one of those things that makes life so unbearable.
Besides, it's not like Shannon knows me. She can't put herself in my shoes. She can't imagine what I went through. She was just one of the people standing on the outside, watching from the sidelines. Now that everything is over, of course it's easy for her to step forward and say that she's sorry, say that she sympathizes with me and understands what I did. But that's because she's a coward.
I don't mean that as an insult. Not really. I mean, everyone is like that. Everyone wants to fit in, to be a part of the majority, to follow everyone else and stand in line. Like Shannon just said, it's that mob mentality. When someone lays the blame down, you point in the same direction as everyone else, because it's the only way to protect yourself, because people fear what they disagree with and what they can't understand. And fear is the origin of hatred.
So, I'm not saying that it's wrong of her. It's just typical, almost clichéd.
“Anyway,” Shannon says. “How long are you staying around here?”
That's a good question, one I haven't really thought about yet. “Until I feel like going home, I guess,” I answer. “Or I mean, after … I really only came here to …”
“Emily,” Shannon says.
I cringe on the inside. There's that name again. Her name. I mean, your name.
I take a deep breath. “Yeah. I just want to … talk to her first, you know?”
I expect to get an incredulous look in response: one of those “Mia-are-you-out-of-your-freaking-mind?” looks. But Shannon just nods, likes she thinks she understands.
THANKS FOR READING. PEEAAAACE. :)