So this is my post for No Kiss Blogfest. It's a scene from a work in progress called The Twenty-seven Jewel Movement. It's YA sci-fi, borderline fantasy, I s'pose.
Here's a quick unofficial synopsis:
There are countless other worlds. Some are just like ours, some are very different.
In the town of Roca Loca, New Mexico, fifteen year-old Jojo Rath just wants to take care of her brother, Elliott, and kill digital zombies online until the pain of her father's death goes away. But when her uncle gives her a mysterious watch, strange things start happening. Why is there a girl in Austin who looks exactly like her? And what is the thread of blue light in the desert that beckons her in the night?
And... here is the No Kiss Blogfest scene:
"Jo, tell me what happened in there." Maron kept glancing at her as he sped down Route 10. Jojo was hunched in her seat, hugging her knees, staring at the button-eyed voodoo doll hanging in the pick-up's rearview as it swung back and forth.
"Did you see her?" Jojo said.
"Your mother? Like your actual mother?"
Jojo closed her eyes and saw her mother's face again; a little softer than she remembered, a little less lined. Her mother, who had abandoned her, somehow living in a house with a girl identical to Jojo.
"I saw her. I talked to her. It was her, but just a little different.” Jojo swallowed the lump in her throat. She pulled the sleeves of her hoodie down over her wrists. “I don't understand what's going on."
“I don't get it. Why would your mom be in Austin?”
“None of it makes sense.”
Maron rubbed his eyes and sighed. “I keep wanting to say, maybe you were seeing things. But if you were, so was I. 'Cause I also saw the girl who looked exactly like you.”
“Frack that. She was me.” She leaned her head against the seat and gazed out at the endless miles of desert. “Don't be shy about it. I know you think I'm crazy anyway.”
“Sure, but I always thought you were crazy.” He sneaked a faint smile at her and she rolled her eyes at him, smirking. A jolt of pain shot up her arm and her breath caught. He squeezed her shoulder. "Are you alright? You don't look so good. Is something wrong with your arm?"
"No.” It took all her self control not to scream. She bit her lip until she thought she might draw blood. “I'm fine. I'll be fine.”
They were silent as Maron drove and the radio played Portishead. Jojo felt nauseous and her head was starting to ache. Maron took an exit at Fort Stockton and she looked up, alarmed.
"We gotta grab some coffee somewhere," Maron said. "I've driven like five hundred miles today, my brain is scrambled."
"Okay. Do you think we're gonna get home in time, so you don't get in trouble?"
"Not a chance. I just hope they don't ground me through Loca Fest."
Jojo didn't say anything as Maron pulled into the parking lot of a diner next to a gas station. She hopped out of the truck and her Chucks crunched on the gravel. Night was coming on and the desert was getting cold. She gazed blankly at the retro diamond shaped letters spelling Restaurant. Roadside diners were so reliable. She clapped her hands to her face when a sob surged into her throat. Maron locked the truck and trotted to her side.
"I'm so sorry!” She burst out. She pressed her sweat-shirted wrists into her eyes as if she could shove the tears back inside. It was embarrassing. She hated crying in front of people, particularly Maron. Her life was so depressing and weird. She never wanted him to think that she, as a person, was depressing and weird. "I'm so sorry I dragged you into this. You're going to get in trouble and it's all my fault. I'm just going crazy and I don't know what's happening to me."
She felt his hands rest on her shoulders. “Hey... Hey, Jo. Come on, it's okay.”
She shook her head like a little girl and he pulled her hands away from her eyes. Jojo blinked at him until the dark splotches cleared and she was looking at his mop of disagreeable dark curls and too wide mouth.
"Don't worry about me. So I get grounded, it's no big deal. What's happening with you, that's a big deal. And I don't know what this is, but...” He squeezed her hands and Jojo searched his sad brown eyes. Maron always seemed happy and easy going enough when he was talking to other people. When he talked to her lately, he always looked a little sad. “It's gonna be alright.”
Jojo couldn't help but titter at that. “People keep saying that to me. It's going to be alright.” She shrugged and stared down at their tangled hands. “But it never is.”
“Fair enough. But even if it's not, I'll always be here.” He wrapped his arms around her and she sighed into the familiar embrace. He was tall enough to rest his chin on top of her head. Lanky, tall, dependable Maron with the calloused guitar fingers. He leaned back and smiled down at her. "I'll always be here for you. Okay? You're never getting rid of me, Jo. You'll have to kill me."
Jojo gave him a shaky smile. "You're too good a friend, you know that? You throw off the curve for everybody else."
Maron brushed a tear from her cheek with his thumb. They were standing very close. Just kiss me, she thought. Please kiss me. He got closer, just a little closer.
He whispered, “Jo...” His lips brushed her forehead and she tipped her head up. A ghost of warm breath touched her lips as he pressed forward. A burst of white hot pain shot up her arm and she gasped, falling back against the truck. The pain was so extreme, she trembled and held her arm like it was broken.
Maron's eyes were big. He stepped forward and cupped her cheek, all concern. "Seriously, what is wrong with your arm? This has been going on all day."
"Nothing," she breathed. She forced a smile. "I fell this morning and I have a bruise, that's all." She backed away, trying very hard not fall down. "I'm just gonna go inside. To the bathroom. Get us a table."
She walked backwards away from him and shrugged. “It's gonna be alright.”