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Authors: Patricia Vanasse

Tags: #Teen Fiction/Romance


BOOK: Resilient
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Patricia Vanasse

Pants On Fire Press 
Winter Garden Toronto London 
Madrid São Paulo New Delhi Tokyo

Pants On Fire Press
, Winter Garden 34787
Text copyright © 2013 by Patricia Vanasse
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form by any means without written permission from the publisher, Pants On Fire Press. For information contact Pants On Fire Press.
All names, places, incidents, and characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Illustrations and art copyright © 2013 by Pants On Fire Press

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Cover by Ana Cruz

Book & eBook design by David M. F. Powers

The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content).

First edition: 2013
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed in the United States of America

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data on file.

eISBN 978-0-9860373-5-1

To my parents,

for teaching me that the sky is the limit.

80 Days Ago

The doctor finished his shift at Langone Medical Center thirty minutes past midnight, and he was exhausted. It had been a long, difficult day in the ER. He spent the past eight hours in the operating room battling to save a young girl’s life; a young girl whose long dark hair reminded him of the child he saved seventeen years ago and promised to save as many times as he needed to. The familiarity only made the operation more strenuous.

It was silent in the parking garage that time of night. There was nothing to hear but the sound of his own thoughts.

His cell phone rang. Startled by the sudden, high-pitched noise, he pulled it out of his pocket and stared at the screen. That number hasn’t shown up on his caller ID for the past two years. He had hoped it was a call that he would never have to answer.


“They found one of my kids,” a woman’s voice answered without hesitation. “They took her. You need to get yours away, far away. They’re looking for her and they will find her soon.”

“Wait!” he yelled, frustrated by the sudden command. “Where are you? I need to meet you.”

“I don’t think that would be wise,” the woman replied, unfazed. “Just take her away now, or it will be too late.”

The line disconnected and his face grew hot with panic. His heart was pounding with fear, but he knew what he had to do. She was in danger, the one he swore to protect with his life.

1 Livia

I’ve been awake for the past hour, laying here on my bed and thinking my way through this last morning in New York City. I am glad we are moving, but, deep inside, I feel an enormous guilt. My parents say that the decision to move has nothing to do with me. They say that they’ve always wanted to go back to the Pacific Northwest, but even though I know they want to return, I also know that New York is where they wanted to finish their careers. 

If the crowded streets didn’t hurt me the way that they do, I would fight and beg my parents to not leave their dream behind for me. I have been struggling with my problems for so long, though, and I just know I can’t handle it any longer. This time, I have to give in.

I walk to my window, taking in the city view one last time. Our duplex condo is right across from Central Park. Its bright green grass and leaves trailing in a breeze give me a sense of peace—that is, until reality catches up with me and the noise of the street traffic below disturbs the picture. It disturbs the silence of my own mind.

Footsteps approach my door. 

“Livia, you need to get up now.” It’s Annette, our maid. “You still need to eat breakfast, and you don’t want to miss that plane.” 

“All right, I’ll be down in a second.” 

I will miss Annette so much. She started working for my family seventeen years ago, and I actually have no idea how I will function without her. My parents offered her to move with us, but her own parents are getting old and need her around. She also doesn’t trust her mentally unstable daughter-in-law to raise the grandkids. Annette doesn’t talk about that, but it’s one of those things I know. 

I head to my bathroom and wash my face, brush my teeth, and grab my clothes off the hanger on the shower rod where I hung my outfit last night. I didn’t want to walk into my empty closet this morning. It’s difficult enough looking around my room and seeing that the only thing left here is my bed. 

I put on my skinny jeans, a black tank top and matching sweater, tie my red Converses, and hurry downstairs. 

Annette is leaning on the kitchen counter where she has arranged all of my favorite foods and treats. The sight of the decadent spread echoes in the deep empty hole inside my chest, and a tear slips down my face. 

Annette’s smile fades when she sees me. “What did I do wrong? Did I forget anything?” 

“No, it looks great!” I exclaim. “I just realized how much I’ll miss the perfect dulce de leche only you can make. I’ll never be able to find that anywhere.” I try to keep the joke in my tone, but all I can think of is how much I will miss the woman in front of me.

She smiles. “I’ll mail it to you every month, mija. Now, sit down and get started. You only have twenty minutes ’til your uncle comes to drive you to JFK. Your mom and the boys are meeting you there.”

“Uncle Henry?” I eye her closely. “What about Dad?” 

“Your uncle called about an hour ago and said he would be picking you up. Your dad took an earlier flight for a meeting this morning at Seattle Children’s Hospital.”

“He is already at work? But he said he was going to take it easy.”

Annette laughs. “Right…”

“I guess I should have known.” The disappointment in my voice is apparent. “He probably meant he would work full-time six days a week instead of seven.”

My parents are both very successful doctors. Mom is a pediatric cardiac surgeon, but she is taking time off to stay home with my six-year-old twin brothers. Dad is one of the best pediatric oncologists in the country, and he has won many awards for two of his successful research trials. Any children’s hospital would kill to have him on their team. I would kill for him too, but just to have him home.

Annette’s smile broadens. “At least you will have your mom at home. How long have you been dreaming of that?” 

I return the smile and settle my hands on her shoulders. “For all those years she was busy in that hospital, I had you with me. You were my mother and my best friend, Annette. You have no idea how much I will miss you.” I give her a tight squeeze and we both break down in each other’s arms. 

Annette knows there’s nothing she needs to say. She knows I can feel every single emotion she feels right now. Her pain becomes mine. Her tears roll down my face, and since I feel exactly the same, I let it out. It feels so good, not having to control it, to embrace Annette’s emotions as my own.

Since I was five years old, I have been able to empathize with people. It’s not like I put myself in their place. It’s more like I am already in their place; I can feel everything they feel, as if all of their emotions are shared between us.  

Over the years, I’ve learned to control this by concentrating on one single word: water. For some unexplainable reason, I feel nothing around me when I’m immersed in water. All that I feel are the sensations inside me.  

When I’m around people, I think of water; I try to grasp onto my emotions and thoughts, and their feelings become nothing more than a collective hum lurking around me. But if their emotions are too strong and overwhelming, I can’t block them, I can’t stop them from taking over me.

There are other things I am capable of doing. Every few years, close to my birthday, I develop a new ability. Two years ago, I noticed my learning capacity was improving. Today, I can quickly absorb and accurately retain great amounts of information. I can even pinpoint an exact word on a specific page of a book after reading it only once. 

Uncle Henry thinks that I am able to utilize a larger percentage of my brain than a regular human, and that’s why I have these abilities. He is a neurosurgeon, though, so he thinks everything is related to the brain.

With my luggage now in one hand and a bag full of Annette’s homemade candy in the other, I give her one last hug and walk to the elevator. I take one more look back, and my heart aches as the memories of my entire childhood invade my mind. This is where I grew up; this is where I was loved and where I became who I am today. It is hard to look at our home and know that it will stay behind me forever.

As I enter the elevator, my body stiffens. A man is facing me. I wasn’t prepared for an encounter, and I’ve let my guard down—and I hate when that happens. His angst is so overwhelming that it sends tremors through my muscles, making my hand shake, and I nearly drop my candy bag on the floor. 

I’ve come across him before. He has a girlfriend who lives in the building. Every time I see him, he puts me on edge. He’s agitated and pacing around the tiny elevator’s space. He presses the parking button a couple of times, as if that would make the elevator go faster. I don’t know what is going on with him, but I could take a couple of guesses. Drug addiction could explain the strong craving that flows through him. His emotions are too disturbing, and I wish I wasn’t trapped in here. 

I can’t imagine how he functions like he does.  It makes me feel sorry for him, and it makes me want to help, but I know better. Every time I see the man, his emotions are running on extremes, and he’s never polite. His expression pierces you, always cold and always asking, “What are you looking at?” 

Oh, only the full gamut of your unreasonable emotions, I’d like to say.

I slip to a corner of the elevator, trying not to make eye contact with him. I take a deep breath to calm myself, I close my eyes, and I concentrate on the only thing that can help me—water. I imagine the ocean, I imagine myself floating on the waves; I imagine the water embracing me like a blanket and, slowly, my own emotions start to surface again. 

It’s easy to grasp onto my excitement to reach Washington, the island, and my new home. However, it doesn’t matter how strongly I’m connected with my feelings or how much I think of water. His anxiety is still lurking around me, and all I can do is hope that this journey ends soon. I’ll be glad when I no longer need to take elevators.

When I finally make it to the parking lot, Uncle Henry is there and standing next to his Porsche. He says the car makes him feel young. He just recently turned forty, but he looks like he’s in his late twenties—his brown hair is salon-perfect, not a single strand of gray in it. He tells me healthy food choices are what keep his face wrinkle-free. He really doesn’t need the car to feel young when he already looks it.

“Livia!” A smile takes over his face when he sees me.

“Uncle Henry!” I give him a hug. “Thanks for taking me to the airport.”

“No problem at all. I thought it would be nice to talk to you before you leave,” he says, taking the suitcase from my hand and shoving it in the Porsche’s tiny trunk.

“About what?” I ask. 

Uncle Henry sounds more concerned than usual. He has always helped me deal with my abilities, especially the empathy. He is the only person who knows about the other ones. He doesn’t think we need to involve my parents with the full extent of my circumstances. They’re already frustrated about not being able to help me. 

When we get into the car and he still hasn’t answered, I say, “Nothing has changed. I can’t totally block people’s emotions yet, but I’m hoping I won’t have to deal with it as much after we move.”

“How about your other abilities?” My uncle looks at me with a crease in his brow. He is trying to shield his emotions around me, and he usually does a very good job. In teaching me how to defend myself against others, he also learned to do it himself. 

My parents are not quite as good as him— emotions oscillate; they have depth and they constantly change. When someone tries to shield what they are feeling, I feel their emotions as artificially smooth pretenses that usually don’t match their facial expressions; like my uncle right now. He looks concerned, worried even, but his emotions come to me as flat happiness and serenity. This is what gives him away. 

BOOK: Resilient
6.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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