Tumble & Fall

Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts Read Free Book Online

Book: Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alexandra Coutts
Tags: Juvenile Fiction, Social Issues, Love & Romance, Friendship, Dystopian
so surprised to hear her name that it takes her a moment to recognize it. “Yeah,” she says at last. “How did— Do I know you?”
    “This is so weird,” Owen says, almost under his breath. “I was just thinking about you. I mean”—he clears his throat and shuffles his feet again—“not like, thinking about you , but I don’t know, something about being on this street…”
    His hands move quickly to his forehead, where he runs his fingers in long strokes through the roots of his hair. “Owen,” he says again, slowly, this time pointing to himself, to the empty blue space between the bubble letters on his shirt. “You don’t remember me at all?”
    Sienna shifts on the bench so that her back hits the wooden panels of the shed’s far wall. She’s trying to see him better in the light. “I don’t think so,” she says, hearing the familiar apology creeping into her voice. Val says not to worry, that it happens all the time. She says depression is a mental bully, co-opting more than its fair share of brain-space in order to make room for all of the compulsive negative thinking about things that will probably never happen, which makes it hard to remember some of the things that actually did. “Sorry,” she mutters softly. “I don’t.”
    “We were really little.” He sits beside her on the bench. The soft cuff of his T-shirt brushes the outside of her shoulder. “And I think my hair used to be blonder. At least it is in pictures. Sometimes I don’t really believe it was me.”
    He stretches his long legs out in the grass and crosses one flip-flop, tan leather with two red stripes, easily over the other. “We used to play together at the beach, every summer,” he says. “I probably had seaweed on my head most of the time.”
    Sienna smiles. “Seaweed?”
    “It was a phase.” Owen shrugs. He tilts his head to the side. “You don’t remember? You, me, and Carly?”
    “Carly,” Sienna repeats. The name feels comfortable and strange at the same time, like one of those words you read a lot but never say out loud.
    “Yeah,” he says, nodding at the hidden driveway across the street. “She lives right there. We were just rehearsing for tomorrow—she’s got this, like, unbelievable Janis Joplin–y voice, like sandpaper.” He shakes his head and she feels him turn to study her profile. “You know, I think we even used to have dinner at your house some nights. Your mom used to make those, like, popover things. She’s a really good cook, right?”
    He intertwines his long fingers together, cracking his knuckles all at once, a loud, resounding pop. There’s something about the noise that feels like she already knew it was going to happen, and something inside of her snaps. She remembers. There aren’t any flashes, no pictures or memories or scenes she can see, but she knows that she knows him. That she knew him, when she was young and Mom was a good cook and everything else was so far away.
    “Yeah,” she says vaguely. She feels lighter, almost relieved, before she remembers the question she was supposed to have answered. “I mean, yeah, she was.”
    “She died,” Sienna says quickly, in the way she always says it, the steady voice that is meant to convey a range of non-emotions: stability, acceptance, perfectly all right . “A while ago. I was eight.”
    Sienna holds her breath, waiting for the wave of consolation she’ll have to nod through, preparing her subtly grateful half smile and the litany of follow-up assurances that everything is fine.
    “Man.” Owen knocks his head gently against the side of the shed. “That sucks.”
    He doesn’t look at her. She waits for him to go on; she waits to feel offended when he doesn’t. But he doesn’t, and she doesn’t mind.
    “So what are you guys doing back here now?” Owen asks. “I mean, most people are trying to leave the island these days. At least the people with other places to go.”
    Sienna shrugs. “I really

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