Village of Lost Things
by Dawn Brazil
When seventeen-year-old Samantha learns her boyfriend died, she is throttled with grief. Comatose for three months, she wakes –standing in a line, in a city called VOLT – Village of Lost Things.
Sam’s life has been a series of the universe crapping over her desires. When she learns Ryan is waiting behind the thick forest that leads to this city, she’s more than skeptical. When you have nothing left, you accept scraps. VOLT is Sam’s scraps.
Except, Ryan isn’t where he’s supposed to be. VOLT’s promise of a sweet reunion appears as likely as being tied to a hog and dragged around the moon.
Eighteen-year-old, Joe, is an egotistical, whiny Momma’s boy. He has a knack for verbally eviscerating those around him. That’s Sam’s evaluation of him when she meets him in VOLT. He lost his mother months ago and comes to VOLT often. Because of his knowledge of the city, his mother makes him Sam’s official guide to find Ryan.
Fifteen-year-old Ferris has a borderline personality disorder. Several years ago, he lost his mother also. He’s been in VOLT the longest and might be a great addition to aid them in finding Ryan. Or stop them from killing each other. He just needs to remember who he is – which seems difficult.
Finding Ryan is Sam’s last effort to reconnect to a life teetering by a string with an anvil attached. She must decide between the living and the dead, and if she were keeping tally, she’d be closer to a corpse than a teenager.
Patience isn’t a virtue I possess.
Telling the truth is also questionable. But I attempt both on occasion.
Ryan called earlier to say he’d received letters from his two top schools. He’s bringing them by so we can open them together as soon as his shift ends at the car wash.
I grab my cell and hit the backlight. It’s five-thirty. His shift was over three hours ago. I punch the phone back to its spot on the mahogany end table. I’d call him again but it goes straight to voicemail, and torture’s not my thing.
I plop on our massive sectional in the family room and pretend to watch TV, my attempt at drawing my mind away from the letters and the threat of loneliness they represent. The last time Mom checked in on me, I wasn’t able to tell her what I was watching, though. Glancing at the TV now, a slender man with a ridiculously wide-brimmed cover treads across a desert road. It’s a western, I guess, which is preposterous. I’d never watch a western.
Like a fish caught in a net, I squirm, uncomfortable in my true skin. An idle mind combined with me is prime territory for trouble. I’ve got to move around—keep busy—or I’ll fall prey to the crap that gets trapped in my head.
With my long legs, I pace from the black sofa to the bay window overlooking the front of our house. I peer out for the tenth time in the span of a few minutes.
My gaze travels to the portly clouds and not the driveway. I promptly pull my eyes down and refocus my attention on finding out why Ryan has gone MIA. The driveway…you’re looking for Ryan in the driveway.
Our lawn is bare and in need of watering—dying from lack of nutrients and care. Weeds suffocate the delicate fuchsia flowers that once blossomed like proud depictions of the beauty inside the house. The beauty that, save for a few photos, provide evidence of what the occupants of this house were.
San Diego! Stay focused, Sam.
My rambling mind eventually allows my eyes to find the driveway. I’m hopeful Ryan’s beaten-up car will come gasping to a stop.
The only thing visible is that ugly, muddy-colored tabby cat. Perched beneath the tree in the middle of the yard, it scratches its backside and stares at me. The cat and I aren’t cordial. I have a collection of bruises from feeding it to prove it. Ending the vicious cycle makes the most sense. Yet, I can’t fathom the thought of it being alone and hungry.
I always tell myself I’ll wear gloves next time it comes around. I always forget. Pain is a searing reminder that I’m still here—life still clutches the soul I possess.
So, maybe, I don’t mind the scratches so much. I’ve never met a person content with being a zombie, but I guess you don’t really meet yourself. You just are. You’re not given an option of who you want to be—you simply exist. Most hope, as I do, that their meager existence isn’t swallowed whole by the universe.
“Come on. San Diego.” I run my hands through my tangled mass of thick curls as I spin away from the window. My patience wears thinner than the floors in our craptastic house. Plunging my right index finger into my mouth, I bite the nail. My mother always reminds me to be a lady. ‘Ladies don’t bite their nails,’ she says. This would be the absolute wrong time to start listening to her; I bite my nail to the nub.
No one chooses to be alone in life. They want some form of companionship. They want friends, family, or even an animal…. When we are denied this simple human desire, our minds rebel. Or maybe just mine. Sanity is a personal condition. We aren’t privy to other people’s crazy, so I have no point of reference for how others behave in these situations.
My lip trembles as my mind slips to the possibility of aloneness again. I slam a fist into the idea. Not exactly what my therapist recommends, but this method works for me.
The coppery taste of blood rests on my tongue from my bitten nail. Disgusting. I race to the kitchen to grab a drink to cleanse my mouth of the repulsive taste. The screen hatch opens and slams closed as the bottle touches my lips. San Diego!
Anticipation unfurls in my abdomen. The oink of a baby piglet sounds beside me. I wipe away the moisture on my hands—from the water bottle and my frayed nerves. I ignore the oink from the piglet.
“Samantha,” Ryan shouts as he enters. I roll my eyes at his use of my full name. I scramble from the kitchen, through the breakfast room, run head first to the sofa, and dive on it before he enters.
“I’m here.” My breaths burst loudly into the air, threatening to reveal my secrets even as I attempt to regulate my quickening gasps. When did the Denver house grow?
The senseless part about me running around like a sailor from marriage is he already knows how anxious I am for this information. Yet, he took longer than the earth’s rotation around the sun to get here.
“Hey Pea.” He strolls into the room with a gathering of lavender lilies and two manila envelopes in hand.
He pushes the flowers toward me. “You really, really shouldn’t have.” He releases a soft chuckle and hands the flowers to me. “You know it’s kind of not my thing. I mean, they’re pretty, but…” I stare at them. Am I supposed to put them in water now or something?
“Actually,” he says, with a fully committed grin that makes my heart leap in my chest like it wants to meld with his. “I know you don’t care about flowers. I thought they were appropriate, though. They’re a symbol of our relationship. It means, returning to happiness. The guy at the flower shop explained it.”
“Returning to happiness. So, you anticipate bad news.” The flowers are whatever but they can’t replace him. Nothing can. I shove the flowers to the ottoman in front of us. “I always associate lilies with funerals. So, yeah, your message is kind of lost behind my images of crying and gnashing of teeth.” I thrust my left index finger into my mouth.
“Wow. Nasty.” He pulls my finger from my mouth and shakes his head in disapproval.
“Can we do this now?”
“Stop whining, Pea. It’s not like you.” I frown at him. His returning grin is a glimmering beam from the sun as you step out of a cool pool. Without a thought, I return his smile.
“I have two envelopes,” he says. “One from Yale, one from Harvard. Which should I open first?”
“Um.” I purse my lips. When is anyone ever ready for bad news? Not I. The envelopes he holds contain the report of our future—either together, or apart. So I’m justified in my freaking out.
The tiniest oink sounds to my left. I cut my eyes to the intrusion. Nothing’s there, as usual. Satisfied, I glance back to my future.
“Let’s not procrastinate,” I say. “Open the Harvard envelope first.” I wipe away the sweat that accumulates on my palms and take a deep breath. It doesn’t matter whether he’ll be joining me at Harvard in the fall or attending somewhere else. Our love can endure a four-year hiatus while we educate ourselves. Right? Yes.
“Harvard it is.” He places the Yale envelope on the mahogany side table and takes a seat beside me on the sectional. His hand collapses around mine. He squeezes tight. I can feel this. This is real. The universe can’t conspire against us in this situation.
I need this. Him. Or…
“No matter what school we attend, I’ll always love you. Always be there for you.” His smile plays at the strings of my heart like I’m his instrument. He manipulates my feelings as no other ever has. I don’t mind the manipulation. It’s a welcome reprieve from the strangling imperfections of life that devour me.
While other seventeen-year-olds might cringe at the thought of loving someone forever, we are unabashed in our love.
I’ve known him my entire existence. First as neighbors, he arrived six months before me. We became playmates (forcibly, initially, by our parents), and later, classmates in school.
Our families’ social engagements assured us many opportunities outside of school to interact. When we entered our final year in junior high, we could no longer deny our feelings. We’ve never regretted the decision.
Faced with the possibility of being apart for the first time in our lives, I give the threat the respect it deserves.
I have an all-consuming fear of it.
About the Author:
I read words. I write words. I love words. Words have so much power, I understood this at an early age so story-telling has always been a part of my life. After college, I tried my hand at a few different careers paralegal, customer service, sales. Yeah, I shouldn’t have. Now, I’m following my passion and doing what I love. I write Young Adult urban fantasy, science fiction, and romance novels. I live in Texas with my husband and three kids and my endless imagination.
From the Author about her book:
VOLT is – We Were Liars x The Wizard of Oz
Of course, I’m going to give my book 5 stars. I’m just hoping you love it as much as I do. I wrote this story with the intent to touch hearts, to heal, to remind others that we’re all fighting battles but we don’t have to fight them alone.
This main character, Sam, is a total mess. Death can be traumatizing. Sometimes we’re shaken but resilient – we can bounce back. We’re rubber bands. Other times, we can barely remember why we get up in the morning. Samantha Porter has been colossally shaken and her life is about to get twisted in a way she never expected in a strange city called VOLT.
Come take the journey with Sam as she tries to untangle her crappy existence and decide if living is even worth the effort anymore.