Falling into Place

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Book: Falling into Place by Amy Zhang Read Free Book Online
Authors: Amy Zhang
Don’t worry. The test is easier than the homework, and she’ll probably curve the quiz. You won’t miss much. Anyway. ‘In the case of a hyperbola, however, the difference between the distances will be . . .”
    Julia glances down at Liz’s face and begins to cry. She had tried to avoid it, looking, but it’s terribly difficult to not look at an almost-corpse, when the almost-corpse is your best friend.
    Liz’s face is gray like air pollution. Her hair is a mess, and parts of it have been chopped off so the doctors could stitch up her scalp. There are shadows beneath her eyes and bruises all over one cheek, and worst of all, her eyes are closed.
    Liz has always hated sleeping. Once, we read the story of Sleeping Beauty together—we didn’t understand much, because it was a harder version, and an unhappier one. Everyone was dead by the time the princess woke up, and maybe that was when Liz began to fear missing things.
    The makeup is gone and her face is as naked as Julia as ever seen it. She sees the sadness, the exhaustion, the fault lines beneath the surface, and suddenly Julia is furious. If Liz had slept more, maybe she would have been a more careful driver. Maybe she wouldn’t have been so reckless and ruthless and lost.
    A tear slides down Julia’s nose and falls onto Liz’s hand. Julia watches her face for a sign of life. For anything.
    But Liz is motionless, a girl of wax and shadows.
    â€œDamn you,” Julia whispers, her voice small. “We were supposed to go running tonight. Open gym for soccer starts next week.”
    They would have gone too—Liz liked running through snow. She would go now, were her leg not broken in three places.
    Well, maybe not.
    For soccer, Liz almost waited. The chances of Meridian’s girls’ varsity soccer team winning the state tournament have gone down dramatically. Without their junior captain and star forward, it will be a miracle if they even pass sectionals, and Liz hadn’t wanted to be responsible for that failure too.
    But she needed ice on the roads. She needed her accident to look as accidental as possible.
    And she just didn’t think she was capable of waiting another three months.
    Julia, however, knows none of this. She looks down at what remains of her best friend, and she thinks of all the times Liz was quiet and not really there. The times when she was the Liz everyone else knows, all snark and insanity, and the moments when she was the one that stared at invisible things and hadn’t truly smiled in a long time.
    â€œGod, Liz,” Julia says, and she closes her eyes to force the tears back. They overflow anyway, pooling somewhere deep inside her. “I can’t run in the rain alone.”
    It was right before cross-country season, junior year. It was pouring outside, and Julia was curled on the window seat with a book and a cup of soup when someone began ringing her doorbell insistently. She opened the front door and found Liz standing on her porch in nothing but a pair of rain-soaked shorts and an obnoxiously green sports bra.
    â€œCome on,” said Liz. “Let’s go running.”
    Julia gaped. “What the hell are you—it’s raining!”
    â€œI’ve noticed,” Liz said impatiently. “Go change.” She looked at Julia’s chest critically. “You’ll start an earthquake if you let those things bounce.”
    â€œLiz, it’s wet .”
    â€œNo shit, Sherlock. Now come on .”
    Julia closed the door in Liz’s face and waited to see if Liz would leave.
    She didn’t, of course, so Julia went upstairs to change into a sports bra and her Nikes.
    And they went running.
    The rain was warm and smelled of beginnings. Liz and Julia ran unevenly, their footsteps syncopated: right right foot, left left foot. After a few minutes, Julia fell back a bit, because her strides were longer than Liz’s—it was kind of

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