Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)(9)

I wish I could stuff my mouth full of raindrops and fill my pockets full of snow. I wish I could trace the veins in a fallen leaf and feel the wind pinch my nose.

Instead, I ignore the desperation sticking my fingers together and watch for the bird I’ve only seen in my dreams. Birds used to fly, is what the stories say. Before the ozone layer deteriorated, before the pollutants mutated the creatures into something horrible different. They say the weather wasn’t always so unpredictable. They say there were birds who used to soar through the skies like planes.

It seems strange that a small animal could achieve anything as complex as human engineering, but the possibility is too enticing to ignore. I’ve dreamt about the same bird flying through the same sky for exactly 10 years. White with streaks of gold like a crown atop its head.

It’s the only dream I have that gives me peace.

“What are you writing?”

I squint up at his strong stature, the easy grin on his face. I don’t know how he manages to smile in spite of everything. I wonder if he can hold on to that shape, that special curve of the mouth that changes lives. I wonder how he’ll feel in 1 month and I shudder at the thought.

I don’t want him to end up like me.


“Hey—” He grabs the blanket off my bed and crouches next to me, wasting no time wrapping the thin cloth around my thinner shoulders. “You okay?”

I try to smile. Decide to avoid his question. “Thank you for the blanket.”

He sits down next to me and leans against the wall. His shoulders are so close too close never close enough. His body heat does more for me than the blanket ever will. Something in my joints aches with an acute yearning, a desperate need I’ve never been able to fulfill. My bones are begging for something I cannot allow.

Touch me.

He glances at the little notebook tucked in my hand, at the broken pen clutched in my fist. I close the book and roll it into a little ball. I shove it into a crack in the wall. I study the pen in my palm. I know he’s staring at me.

“Are you writing a book?”

“No.” No I am not writing a book.

“Maybe you should.”

I turn to meet his eyes and regret it immediately. There are less than 3 inches between us and I can’t move because my body only knows how to freeze. Every muscle every movement tightens, every vertebra in my spinal column is a block of ice. I’m holding my breath and my eyes are wide, locked, caught in the intensity of his gaze. I can’t look away. I don’t know how to retreat.



His eyes.

I’ve been lying to myself, determined to deny the impossible.

I know him I know him I know him I know him The boy who does not remember me I used to know.

“They’re going to destroy the English language,” he says, his voice careful, quiet.

I fight to catch my breath.

“They want to re-create everything,” he continues. “They want to redesign everything. They want to destroy anything that could’ve been the reason for our problems. They think we need a new, universal language.” He drops his voice. Drops his eyes. “They want to destroy everything. Every language in history.”

“No.” My breath hitches. Spots cloud my vision.

“I know.”

“No.” This I did not know.

He looks up. “It’s good that you’re writing things down. One day what you’re doing will be illegal.”

I’ve begun to shake. My body is suddenly fighting a maelstrom of emotions, my brain plagued by the world I’m losing and pained by this boy who does not remember me. The pen stumbles its way to the floor and I’m gripping the blanket so hard I’m afraid it’s going to tear. Ice slices my skin, horror clots my veins. I never thought it would get this bad. I never thought The Reestablishment would take things so far. They’re incinerating culture, the beauty of diversity. The new citizens of our world will be reduced to nothing but numbers, easily interchangeable, easily removable, easily destroyed for disobedience.

We have lost our humanity.

I wrap the blanket around my shoulders until I’m cocooned in the tremors that won’t stop terrorizing my body. I’m horrified by my lack of self-control. I can’t make myself still.

His hand is suddenly on my back.

His touch is scorching my skin through the layers of fabric and I inhale so fast my lungs collapse. I’m caught in colliding currents of confusion, so desperate so desperate so desperate to be close so desperate to be far away. I don’t know how to move away from him. I don’t want to move away from him.

I don’t want him to be afraid of me.

“Hey.” His voice is soft so soft so soft. His arms are stronger than all the bones in my body. He pulls my swaddled figure close to his chest and I shatter. Two three four fifty thousand pieces of feeling stab me in the heart, melt into drops of warm honey that soothe the scars in my soul. The blanket is the only barrier between us and he pulls me closer, tighter, stronger, until I hear the beats humming deep within his chest and the steel of his arms around my body severs all ties to tension in my limbs. His heat melts the icicles propping me up from the inside out and I thaw I thaw I thaw, my eyes fluttering fast until they fall closed, until silent tears are streaming down my face and I’ve decided the only thing I want to freeze is his frame holding mine. “It’s okay,” he whispers. “You’ll be okay.”

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