BEYOND THE PRECIPICE
by Eva Blaskovic
People read universal human condition stories because they need confirmation for their own experiences, their own hell. They need to relate, to not feel alone. They follow the protagonist to see how (s)he deals with the blows that life has wielded.
Excerpt from CHAPTER 18
The Noose Tightens
“Great,” Bret’s body sagged as he expelled his breath. “What about the theory part? Did you have to use all the fancy music lingo?”
“You already know all that stuff. Learning the terminology is the easy part.”
He closed the web browser.
“Wait!” Nicole’s hand shot out, but the page had already closed. Her lips pinched into a tight line.
“Longer program, two degrees?” he said. “How long do you think I can keep it up?”
“Well, if it’s what you really want to do, there will be a way. Just stop throwing everything away before you’ve even looked at the options!”
“Options? People like you have options!”
“What do you mean—people like me?”
“According to my dad, I had two choices. Science or Business.”
She stared at him for a long time and finally drew a deep breath. When she spoke, her voice was calmer. “Okay, what am I missing here? I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but he’s been dead for six years, right?”
He nodded, resting his chin on his hand.
“Look, I’m not saying disregard his wishes. I mean—I don’t know what it’s like to lose a parent, God forbid. But why can’t you decide for yourself—especially now?”
“Because everything in my life is strung together. Like a web. Each thing is connected to something, which is connected to something else. The course of my life has been set and now I have to see it through.”
She kept staring at him. “Why? What is all connected together? Why can’t you tell me?”
To explain, he’d have to start at the beginning. The very beginning, whenever that was. Maybe it went back to the time of the Oliver play. Maybe when Drake stopped thinking of him as his best friend. And then he’d have to tell her about the accident. Even his mom didn’t know that yet. He’d have to explain about Drake and Galan—and that would surely do it. How could she consider going on with this relationship knowing he was tied to a ball and chain? How could she feel the same about him after she knew what he’d done?
Excerpt from CHAPTER 21
On the acreage, they watched the summer storm come in, a charcoal cloud smoking out the sun as lightning began to flash. Wind rushed through the leaves with the sound of a rain stick, and continued across the yard, bending young trees to the horizontal. Rain followed, crashing like a breaking wave.
He ran into the yard, his bare feet squishing in the flooded grass, his shirt stuck to his back. He peeled it above his head and let the wind rip it from his hands. Warm water closed over his arches, brown with mud coaxed from the grass, as he lifted his face to the sky and let rain drum over his tanned body. Water, emblazoned by lightning, fell in a torrent, and thunder reverberated in the trees.
“Get in here before you get killed!” Kern yelled from the door.
“It’s writing my song!”
He raised his arms to the wind, let it rush at him and around him, feeling its living power.
Nature was writing the song for him. All he had to do was listen. In the thunder: the electric drums. In the breeze: the woodwind harmony. In the rain: a piano melody. Then electric guitar and synthesizer, rain stick and his own voice—pressurized, building into an explosion of instrumental release; pellets of hail crashing into his body, the forces of nature thrashing about before peaceably fading, until only stray raindrops splashed from his skin.
Streamers of a setting sun subdued the trees into silence, diffuse in the misted air. In the west, where the clouds were breaking, shafts of sun attached to the ground, while in the blue-black east, a rainbow glowed, arching over a sea of green. Small birds flitted about amongst the trees.
He spun around in a circle. Everywhere he set his eyes, there was music—strings of notes binding together in harmonic dance. Guitar gliding down shafts of sunlight, the piccolo of birds’ flapping wings, bagpipes following the roll of the hills, flutes swaying with the grasses. His running footsteps were the drums; the bass, the throbbing of his heart. Piano dripped amidst the harmony of a strengthening rainbow. And, finally, an organ rushed in, a cresting wave breaking over a shore of grass.
It was Earth, and yet it wasn’t. He lay back and submitted to the dampness of the ground until the sun restored warmth to his body. A small cloud cruised overhead: a ship. It was the first thought that entered his mind.
Starfighter was landing.
He blinked in the hesitant daylight, the ceiling of his room coming clear, and sat up.
“That’s it,” he whispered.
Outside, the blue-tinged clouds warned of coming snow. He turned away, for it did not matter. He would not be going into school that day.