you’re on your own today, Matt

The girls and I are freaking out. It’s all happening, and it’s getting UGLY.

So we’ll leave it to you, and your latest journal entry:

your name falls from my lips like the stones in a stream, tumbling down tiny waterfalls that crash over boulders that seem like cliffs to ants, but polish those stones clean, and smooth. smooth as the smell of coffee in the air, breaking through the heavy haze of summertime humidity, hot as the weak sunlight filtering through my windows to tickle my eyelids apart, coaxing my mind to wake up.

i say your name again, louder. louder still. you turn, your hair a black fan, speckled with red glints and the hint of gold you put in your overlong bangs, framing your soft, fawn-colored face with ivory silk. your gray eyes flash, catching the light, the end of a storm as it crawls away from over the sea, and i swear i’ve seen them before, in just that way, as i lay on the docks and longed to be on the water, riding those waves off the shores of Atlantis, Mass.

you didn’t know who i was. i could taste the salty confusion in your stormy eyes, in the soft downturn of your mouth, lips like pillows, impossibly soft, and i couldn’t help thinking, yet again, how dave is a lucky guy.

he’s so lucky, he doesn’t even have you yet, and he has you.

and then they parted. the confusion swirled still, but lifted a fraction, and then more. you called me “Liv’s brother.”

a label. i had nothing more in me to do than nod. and then you wanted to know what i wanted.

so i asked. six harried words that crushed my chest to think of, and sent my heart to the races to imagine saying to you. and they fell at your feet, too fast. i had to say them again. had to ignore the laughter of your posse. i could’ve lit a thousand candles, my face was so hot.

will you go out with me?

i know i said something before that–fumbled and stumbling and unstable and unsure and nowhere near a part of my conscious brain. excuses. lots of them. lots of thinking words for why i was there, ums and sorrys and had to asks. i cringe, thinking back on them.

and then came the confusion again. and then dave stood up straighter. more laughter surrounded us, until you didn’t laugh. and then it faded. and i thought i’d hold that breath forever.

i would’ve, too. senior year of high school, class of ’89 — i had to try something. i had to do something.

and then the world fell away as your expression softened to thoughtfulness. and i melted. hope. hope as multi-colored as you are, pouring that color into my own paper-paste world. your brows rose, you smiled at me. you said “sure.”

i would’ve kissed you if i’d been more of a man. but now, i’m only a boy made new. i have a feeling i’ll grow another half foot overnight. maybe then i’ll be reaching for your hand, at the very least.

I know I tease you, but sometimes, I love how much of a romantic sap you are. I mean, that’s why I created you, so… makes sense.

oh god oh god oh god

It’s here. It’s happening. It’s coming in fast. Holy shit, guys, holy fucking shit.

Nikki, you need to run. Rebecca, you need to get your ass over there. Now. Because I don’t trust Greg. I don’t trust him at all.

And big things are happening. Scary things.

Oh god. Oh god. Guys, please make it out of this alive. Please.

I guess I have to ask—Matt? Did it get any better?

another entry, same day
she didn’t say anything. Praise God, she didn’t say anything.
not that i thought she would, but–
still. thank God.

maybe that’s my in. maybe she’s my in.
and…maybe mom’s right. maybe i should ask God. but mom also doesn’t like Sarah very much.

but it couldn’t hurt, having a little more help on my side.

My advice? Don’t think too hard on it. But I’m glad things are working out.

that’s what happens when you come in, guns blazing.

People get upset. And you’ve just made your best friend furious, Rebecca.

You’ve got two more things left to go. Two of them. It’s gonna be a helluva long night, and there’s a good chance your friendship might not survive the bulk of it.

Are you ready for this?

How are things with you, Matt?

another entry, same day
oh fuck.
Sarah’s friends with Liv.
SARAH IS FRIENDS WITH LIV.

oh FUCK.

how do i miss things like this? how did i fucking miss this?

I’ll tell you: you’re not paying attention.

PS: vote for the fox!!

excuse me, Rebecca.

Didn’t we just have this conversation? What’d I tell you about pushing it? Because I’m pretty sure this isn’t what she had in mind when Nikki told you to “change your tune.”

Well, fine, don’t listen to me. But I’ll be sitting here while things get rough, if you want my advice. Also, you might want on umbrella. There’s a hurricane headed your way, and it’s got Nikki’s name written all over it.

Matt, what’re you up to?

another entry, same day
Olivia’s telling me not to downtalk girl code. is she reading this thing? are you reading this, Liv? go back to your apartment. or go hang out with Donna, or whatever it is you do when you’re not visiting. don’t read my stuff.

Dude, you’re so dramatic.

a friendship secret

I see what you’re doing, Rebecca. I see how desperate you’re getting. And I get it. I’d be right there with you, if one of my best friends was in this same situation. I’d be doing whatever it took to find out what’s going on with them, and what it’d take to get them out of whatever hole they’d climbed into.

I get that. I’ve been there.

But I also know that Nikki doesn’t want help. And you coming in, guns blazing, to stop whatever she’s in the middle of, isn’t going to endear you to her anymore than it has over the last few days. I know it’s literally an abnormal, supernatural situation, so that makes it different. That makes it way more important. But.

If things don’t improve between you two when this all comes to a head — and believe me, we’re almost to that head, it’s literally a day or two away — it’s not personal. Try to avoid being surprised about it.

Relationships grow and change. She might not be too happy with you, or even want to see you after everything comes to light. That’s normal. Be there as much as you can, but be aware of it while you are. If the relationship still serves you, still helps you grow in any way, keep tending to it. If she starts syphoning your energy, and it starts becoming a one-way street (though, arguably, it might already be), then it’s not serving you. It’s not friendship.

But that’s for book 3 to decide…possibly.

You know what? Let’s get to the end of this leg first.

Matt? You okay?

later entry, same day
is there really a girl code, though? is that real? does it exist somewhere? and why does girl code have so much stuff in it about guys?

Yes, there is. Most of it doesn’t revolve around guys, dear, just the stuff you’re seeing because…well, duh.

what lengths would you go to?

Now you’re lying, Rebecca. And to your Pastor, as well! I know you’re trying to do what needs to be done, but wow.

Nikki certainly looks worse for wear, though, doesn’t she? I’m amazed her parents haven’t said anything. Didn’t they notice what was happening to her dad in book one? Doesn’t it seem strangely similar to what’s happening now? Maybe they’re less attentive than I thought. Or maybe it’s selective attentiveness, like needing to know where your kid is, but otherwise being too caught up in your own thing to see the forest for the trees.

Matt, how are you doing?

talk to her. that’s their advice — talk to her. like that’s so easy, like that’s something you can just do. you don’t talk to people like her, you wait for a fucking invitation.

yeah, great advice, Olivia. what’d you do, gossip about me to Donna? you’re a girl, how can you not know this stuff? you were in high school, what? a year ago? two years? how can you forget this kind of thing? is college really so different?

that’s what i get for talking to my sisters.

…You know they’re right, right? Communication is like, the key to successful relationships.

breaking news is hard to do

It’s hard to break any kinds of difficult news to anyone, but it’s worse when they don’t want to hear from you, much less hear about it. You’ve got a helluva job on your hands with this one, Becks. I salute you.

Who knows, though? Maybe Nikki will be more receptive now that she’s spent time with Greg? Since, you know, that’s what she’s wanted to do all along?

Let’s see how Matt’s doing:

i just want her to say my name. i want her to know who i am. i want her to see me, damnit.

Not much better, I guess.

expect the unexpected? i guess?

Alright, Rebecca. What does this all mean? We know Greg did something to Nikki. Did it work? Did something else happen while she was under observation? Is it something—else? Something part of her, and separate from everything we’ve seen happen up to now?

Honestly, let me know. I’m still baffled. This seems…easy to me, this revelation. Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe there’s more to it than—this?

I don’t know.

From Matt’s journal:

she’s like movie magic. i can’t sleep without thinking about her. can’t eat without dreaming about her, can’t believe she’s real.

she’s real

how’s that possible?

a wish has been granted. i’ll step through the gate from my world to hers, and maybe, just maybe, she’ll see me.

she’ll see me like i see her, like starlight, and firelight, and brightly burning possibilities. she’ll say my name–it’ll roll off her tongue like hard candy, easy and simple and sweet–and it’ll be familiar. like we’ve always been this way. like she’s wanted it to be this way.

why hasn’t it always been this way?

oh. right. dave stanton. what the hell does she even see in a meathead jock, anyway?

wow, you are so in high school.

drama, everywhere she goes.

So you’re really gonna let him taint your opinions about your friend. He keeps saying “she doesn’t know everything,” and yet what does he then proceed to do? I still don’t know where the hell he thinks he heard anything she said.

Part of me wants to blame you, Nikki, for listening to him. I thought that, after what happened in Atlantis, you wouldn’t. Mostly for reasons you refuse to believe are reasons (you know, those truth bombs Rebecca dropped?), but I guess that’s not the case. So I’m sorry for that. I’m not sorry for disliking Greg.

Or for judging you — you’re acting like you’re still in high school, running (literally) away from conflict like that. And gossiping about your friends behind their backs. You do know this isn’t the last you’ll be hearing about it from Rebecca, right?

Matt’s been having a hard time, too, if his journal has anything to say about it:

they’re wrong, you know. it’s all wrong. there are no terms and conditions for how we get together, for how people find each other. sometimes, it’s not physical. sometimes, it’s mental. psychic. the tangible in the intangible. threads winding and binding over time.

it’s not in my fucking head. words are meaningless for this kind of stuff. she’s said hi to me before. we’ve talked. single sentences are talking.

right? right? tell me i’m right.

i’m not making all this up. she’s looked at me before. maybe she hasn’t seen me yet, but she’s looked my way. we’ve worked together.

what i’m asking isn’t impossible. what i want has happened before, to people who haven’t grown up with each other, people who meet halfway across the world for a handful of minutes, not people who lived in the same town and just noticed each other. she could be interested in me. she could.

i’m not imagining things. i’m not making this up. i’m not.

This is all before he and Kat become a Thing, it looks like, based on my timeline of them.