Author's Note: This is not the most up-to-date version of Luminosity: Book One. I strongly recommend reading this story on my own webspace. You can find it at the URL luminous . elcenia . com (remove the spaces, or use the link on my author profile). The reason this version is not up-to-date is the result of the limitations of fanfiction dot net. It has a terrible user interface that I don't want to fight with any more than I have to. Also, the revised version of the story has most chapters compressed, split in different places, and concatenated in different ways, but I am concerned that trying to duplicate this here would cause my reviews to evaporate. Accordingly, you should read at luminous dot elcenia dot com.
If you insist on reading here anyway, very well: with no further ado, I present Luminosity: Book One.
You don't have to make a hundred mistakes for everything to disintegrate around you.
One will do.
One wrong risk, one misplaced trust, one careless guess is enough to destroy the one thing you can least afford to lose.
But I'd never had any reason to imagine that my disaster would befall me at the time when I was most unexpectedly safe.
Here is how I decided to live with my father in Washington.
My favorite three questions are, What do I want?, What do I have?, and How can I best use the latter to get the former?
Actually, I'm also fond of What kind of person am I?, but that one isn't often directly relevant to decision making on a day-to-day basis.
What did I want? I wanted my mother, Renée, to be happy. She was the most important person to me, bar none. I also wanted her around, but when I honestly evaluated my priorities, it was more important that she be happy. If, implausibly, I had to choose between Renée being happy on Mars, and Renée being miserable living with me as she always had - I wouldn't be thrilled about it. At all. But I'd send her to Mars.
Mars wasn't in the picture, but my new stepfather Phil's travel schedule was. I'm a minor child; one isn't permitted to leave those unattended for too long. And so when he went from city to city, Renée stayed home, with me.
She was not happy.
Renée loves me, but she loves Phil too, or she wouldn't have married him. (I wouldn't call her the world's most self-aware person, but marriage is something she takes very seriously, since her divorce from my father. She was careful this time around.)
What did I have?
Lots of things - but the relevant one was: another parent.
And so, to let Renée follow Phil and be happy, I moved to the town of Forks, Washington - to stay, where I'd previously only spent summers.
It's a significant flight from Phoenix to Forks. A significant two flights and a drive, actually. I stocked my carry-on luggage with books to read and spiral notebooks to fill. I made a habit of carrying notebooks, and pens, everywhere. If I pinned my thoughts onto paper, they couldn't escape later. Without that kind of enforcement, they were liable to morph into versions of themselves that were more idealized, more consistent - and not what they were originally, and therefore false. Or they'd be forgotten altogether, which was even worse (those thoughts were mine, and I wanted them).
I wrote a lot, whenever anything remotely unusual or challenging happened. Once a week or so, I typed it all up, so I'd have a searchable archive. Originally I'd had to write down everything I could come up with in order to be more or less sure that I wasn't fooling myself more than was strictly necessary; after a few years of practice, I mostly trusted myself to remember my actual thoughts and not the fictionalized ones my brain preferred to provide. By the time I moved to Forks, the notebooks were more of a comfort object, which I mostly used for things I might need to refer to that were too important to leave to memory.
My father, Charlie, met my second plane in Port Angeles, hugged me with one arm, and helped me get my suitcases into his police cruiser. Once I'd buckled my seatbelt, in accordance with the law it would have been too ironic not to obey in a cop car, Charlie began the drive to his house - my house, too, I supposed. He told me he'd found a good car for me, a cheap one.
I had wanted a car. Not just to have a car - I didn't care about cars very much as objects - but to have autonomous mobility around town, and to avoid dependence on Charlie for rides, as he a) had other things to do with his time and b) drove a conspicuous vehicle. That he'd found me one for myself was a sign of attentiveness, trust, and spontaneous generosity: he knew what I wanted, thought I'd be responsible enough to have it, and offered it to me without any social obligation to do so whatever. I felt a rush of gratitude, and immediately thanked him warmly. He looked a little embarrassed; I relieved the awkwardness by asking after the details of the car and providing a concrete topic.
He'd already bought the car, which was actually a Chevy truck, for me as a homecoming gift - that was good if the car was adequate because it'd save me the money, but bad if it wasn't, because its gifthood made it harder to replace. I wanted to like the car. It was from his friend Billy Black, who'd become disabled recently and couldn't drive it any more. That reduced the odds that it was a lemon if he had a reason like that to get rid of it, which was important because I knew nothing about fiddling with the innards of engines. Although Charlie did admit to me, after a little prodding, that it was an old truck. Very old.
Charlie's a quiet sort. After our car talk was over, we observed that the weather was damp, then ceased to speak; I observed, silently, that the damp weather characteristic of the area did lead to some very nice, verdant scenery. I liked that, although the moist prerequisites weren't as pleasant. I decided that it would be useful to develop a taste for wet weather, and pulled out my notebook du jour to note that if I saw a way to do that, I should.
We arrived at his house. The truck was a solid red thing that I found strangely appealing. I wrote down that I should think about that - I wouldn't have guessed from a description of it that I'd have liked it, and that meant there was something I didn't know about my aesthetics - and then took it for a test drive around the block. It ran, loudly, but the radio worked and could drown out the engine noises. When I pulled it back into the driveway, Charlie had already hauled my bags inside and up the stairs to my room. I told him I loved the car, and then he stayed out of my way while I unpacked. As soon as I'd stashed the contents of my toiletry kit in the house's single bathroom, my next priority was to fire up my laptop and e-mail Renée, letting her know I'd made it safely and coming up with a short list of remarks about the weather, Charlie's good health, my new (old) truck, and my mixed feelings about the school I'd attend the following day, starting in mid-January no less.
I didn't need to be very detailed in my note to Renée, but the upcoming half-a-year of school was significant enough to warrant some heavy duty scribbling. Out came the spiral notebook. I wrote without dwelling on the words or trying to edit. If I decided that what came out of my brain was too terrible to be recorded, I could set the page on fire - after I had seen what was on it for myself.
I was used to a huge school with the resources that were the privilege of densely populated districts. I was used to being able to disappear in a sea of people. I wasn't used to Fork's student population three hundred and fifty-eight, counting me. I had to enter in the middle of the year. Everyone else already knew each other - moreover, everyone else had known each other from earliest childhood. Forks was one of those towns where a few people left and almost nobody ever turned up. I'd been born here and I'd spent the odd summer month here, but Charlie didn't live close to any families with kids my age, and I'd certainly never attended school here before. I was only sort of native, and wouldn't know any of my classmates.
Towns this small were also the natural habitat of gossip. If Charlie had mentioned to any of his friends or fellow police officers that his daughter was coming to stay for good, everybody in Forks who wasn't too young to have acquired language yet was also party to the information. I couldn't disappear: everyone would know who I was just by process of elimination, even if my resemblance to my father wouldn't do it.
My novelty would probably get me some attention and interest, though. If I were prepared for it, and acted friendly and excited to be there instead of self-conscious and beleaguered, I could probably make some friends on my first day and get their help navigating the school. I decided to psych myself up to make the most of the opportunity on the drive over to the school; friends in an unfamiliar place would be good. Full stop.