Harmony Martinez walked down the street. She remembered the day, a while ago, a girl was shot on that very street. Thandiwe Washington was her name. Only 15 1/2, Harmony was no longer scared of getting hurt. No one called Harmony by her real name anymore. She was known as "Rory" by family and "Mo" by friends. The reasons are lost to history. Back to the story. Anyway, she hadn't been scared until today. She was repeating lines from a description of Gabrielle Zevin's new book, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac.
" 'Just a chapter or a sentence in a book whose greater theme had yet to be determined. Maybe this chapter would have had the faintest whisper of love about it, but maybe not.' " It was a depressing thing to think about. But in it's own way, it was kind of nice. Poetic, even. Too caught up in the quote, Rory did not understand what was happening.
She had been having headaches and fevers for a week now. Her appetite wasn't as big as usual. Rory had also been going through constant states of lethargy. She refused to believe she was sick because her family didn't have the money to help her. She was an ok student, well-renowned soccer player, and a virtually healthy person. Her mom died in a coma and her dad worked 2 jobs. She had a very much older brother Owen, from her mother's first marriage. Owen had died in a fire a while ago, leaving his wife Emily behind, who died 2 months ago. Rory kept her pencil-straight light brown hair in a messy ponytail. She started coughing. Tiny specks of blood showed up on her hand.
A week later, Harmony Martinez died of typhoid fever. Her father went into a trance-like state and was knocked into a coma the next year. But, back to Rory's story.
I woke up on a ship. Yes, a ship. Go figure. I've never been a seafaring kind of person. Oh, I have one question. Where in the world am I? To answer that, a voice over the intercom said, "Welcome, all new passengers of the SS Nile. This is your captain speaking. I hope you have a wonderful stay. We are transporting you to Elsewhere as soon as possible."
"Else-who?" I asked no one in particular.
"Elsewhere. I've been hear him greet people for the past half hour," A girl's voice said below me. "I'm Mickey Johansson."
Then I said something really smart like, "Um—uh—what—I—um—Rory Martinez. What are we doing here?"
"No idea. Want some food? There's a buffet. He announced it, like, 10 minutes ago."
"Sure," I muttered. I had finally gotten over the oh-my-god-who-is-that-girl phase. I climbed off the bunk bed. Mickey was pretty. Only slightly chubby, mousy hair, freaky blue eyes, a wild mass of freckles, and glasses. I only noticed then that I was wearing plain white pajamas. They were more comfortable than my clothes at home. Wait 'till I told Dad! Then I noticed something. When would I see Dad again? Then it all came back to me.
I was sitting in bed. I was super hot and in super bad pain. I heard our neighbor (a doctor in training) say, "Sorry, Doug. She's just not going to make it. If you want, I can put her to sleep." Before he did, I whispered the quote. " 'Just a chapter or a sentence in a book whose greater theme had yet to be determined.' " And that was it.
Oh my god. Had I died? Yes, it was all coming back to me now. I had died a week before Christmas. My dad had promised me driving lessons or a new watch. But no. At least now I would be with my mother in…Elsewhere?
"Mom? Mom!" I ran into my mother's arms. She was with my cousin Lu Smith my mom's sister's son (he died in a car accident 2 years ago).
"It's good to see you. When they announced that you were coming I almost fainted." She pulled me into another tight death hug.
"So, how'd you go?" Lu asked.
"I was put to sleep. Typhoid fever."
"Oh, honey. I'm so sorry. C'mon, let's get you situated in your new home."
The house was beautiful. When we were walking up the drive, we saw the neighbor's on their porch. There was a woman almost as old as my mom was now (late 20s) and a boy who was my age.
"Marion," Mom greeted her stiffly.
"Julia," the woman replied.
It was obvious those two were not friends. All my mom said was that I was to never talk, see, or even acknowledge Marion Turner or her family (her son was Jesse and she had a 19 year old daughter named Crystal.) But, Jesse and I had shared a smile and glance when I was walking in.
The next day, I had my acclimation with Aldous Ghent. That went perfectly fine. I learned that in Elsewhere you age backwards instead of getting older. Aldous also talked about an avocation. Like a job, but you do it to 'complete your soul'. He said there was an opening at the DDA (the Division of Domestic Animals which helps recently deceased pets find new owners and get used to life—or death—in Elsewhere). He assigned me to work with a girl named Liz.
Liz seemed nice enough. Blonde hair in a ponytail, fluent in Canine (like me), and we both loved the band Machine. She had a boyfriend who just so happened to be my brother Owen. Maybe I could live a pretty full life here...but maybe not.