Something of a Kind - By Miranda Wheeler
Something of a Kind
Kindle Edition | Copyright Miranda Wheeler 2012 | All rights reserved. | Released September 2012. | Cover Art & Design by Miranda Wheeler.
Something of a Kind is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission from the copyright owner.
For Mom, an indestructible bounce board armed with a literary black belt.
“We are what we believe we are.” ~ C. S. Lewis
CHAPTER 1 | ALYSON
As Alyson unfolded her legs, she was surprised to find motion painful. Hours of confinement left stiff aches, and she was eager to escape.
Silence lapsed between side-longed glances, making the space feel smaller each time. It didn’t help that Greg was blasting the heater. Dry air depleted the moisture and drew in the smell of wood smoke emanating from chimneys as they passed.
With a lack of elbow room, the ve hicle’s front seat seemed too crowded to slip out of her coat. She struggled for composure but was uncomfortable. Seeking distraction, she fixed her attention outside. As Aly appraised the brisk night, her fingertips brushed the chilled glass.
Aly’s iPod had exhausted its charge hours ago, forcing her to fight weariness rather than falling back into excruciating thoughts. She didn’t want to know who was settling into her mother’s condo, how her cousins felt about having their bedrooms to themselves again, or which poor soul now inhabited Room 1405 in the overrun cancer wing.
Aly had lost hope. Pretending she hadn’t was unbearable. The facade of strength she constructed for her family now felt out of reach.
Aly had tortured herself about the move for months. Looking back now was sadistic. With it, her friends disappeared, misery swelled, and the sun burned a few shades too dark. The life she had before had died with her mother, and she almost felt comfort in leaving it behind. With enough persuasion, every outlying mile in her wake made it seem easier to disentangle, shut down, and close her eyes.
But Mom was all I had. It’s inescapable.
Aly had spent dozens of sleepless nights attempting to convince herself that a change of scenery would emancipate, maybe even provide the space to find herself outside of implacable grief.
Instead, she obsessed over her mother, thinking of the incredible adventures they spoke of. Unable to construct meals after late shifts behind the counter of Martha’s Bakery, Vanessa would drop onto their violet sofa, aspiring of a daring future and popping Oreos into her mouth.
Her mother swore she would explore every glorified corner of Paris, visiting the restaurants of idolized chefs, considering art, or perhaps using the four years of high school French that had been lost on their small city. Vanessa had vast amounts of arbitrary knowledge.
No one knew she would hardly use it, chemo and radiation only extending her life to a cheerless thirty-five. Knocked up at nineteen, her youth was taken by the burden of single parenthood. Stage two, and eventually four, ovarian tumors stole the rest. Vanessa’s dreams never ventured beyond her daughter’s bedtime stories.
Aly had always been an attentive audience.
Even covered in flour with hair frizzing at the crown, or pale and emaciated, her mother’s emerald eyes made her exotic and beautiful.
Aunt Lauren, her mother’s sister, insisted she would inherit the glow like a promise from her maternal genetics, but Aly was still fifty-percent Glass. She shared untouchable baby blues with her father. His gaze had always been flat and distant.
As the Chevy slowed, Aly jolted herself awake. Easing into a driveway, she marveled at the thought of stretching her limbs and breathing pure Alaskan air.
Doubts rushed back in. Suddenly, something felt incredibly off.
Now that we’re here, it feels so surreal.
She had actually left Kingsley. The little Adirondack city that sang the praises of bed-and-breakfasts and native-walked campgrounds to any vacationer lured by bear encounters, historic lean-tos, and legendary hermits was now a part of her past.
It was her home– hermother’s home – and she left.
It was becoming more and more difficult to remember better times. To the core, she knew she lacked acceptance. She watched her mother fade. Aly suffered a bitter goodbye each time she kissed her mother’s clammy forehead and swore into her sunken eyes that, yes, she was looking better.
Devastation milled to