After reading and watching The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it inspired me to try my hand at a YA novel. So, here is the first chapter of what is currently “Project Oliver.” I have yet to come up with an actual name for it.
“Do you ever look at the stars and wish you could snatch them out of the sky?” Oliver asked. “You know, to keep in a box all for yourself?”
“What would you do with a box of stars, Oli?” Trista asked.
Oliver shrugged. “I don’t know; change the world?”
Trista smiled. “Come on, Oli; we’d better hide if we’re going to sneak onto this train.”
Oliver and Trista rolled off the train tracks and ducked behind the bushes. The deep chug of the train grew louder as it drew closer. The black smoke from the lead car rose in a thick plume, and was almost invisible against the night sky.
Trista laced her fingers with Oliver’s. He looked at their connected hands, and then at Trista. He hoped she didn’t notice his palm was sweaty.
“Ready?” she asked.
“Jump on three. One, two, three!”
Oliver pushed off the ground and leapt into the air with Trista. He grabbed onto the side of the rail car and wriggled his legs to squirm in. After he swung his legs up, he grabbed onto Trista’s shoulder and pulled her into the train car with him. Trista and Oliver panted.
“Good job,” she said. She patted Oliver on the back and set her leather backpack down. She leaned on the wall and slid to a sitting position.
Oliver looked at her. Even in the dark train car she was beautiful. Her blonde hair hung to her upper back, and he swore he could see her bright green eyes shimmering in the darkness.
“Are you alright, Oli?” she asked.
Oliver blinked twice, and dropped his backpack to the floor. He sat next to her and rubbed his eyes. “Yes,” Oliver answered. “I just never thought I’d be doing this.”
“It’s the right thing to do.”
Oliver looked at Trista. “I trust you.”
Trista smiled. “Good. Believe it or not, I know what I’m doing.”
Oliver almost laughed. He thought of his parents instead. His mother, mostly. He didn’t like to think of his father, who ran out on them just six months before. But his mother had always been so loving and caring. Most of the time. “Where do you think this train will take us?” Oliver asked.
Trista shrugged and opened her bag. “I’m not sure. I don’t really care, either. As long as it’s away from this place.”
Oliver didn’t know exactly what she was running from. She didn’t really like to talk about it. He knew it must be pretty bad, though. One night she showed up at his house and told him to run away with her. She was sobbing and her nose was bleeding. He never could say no to her. Especially when she was crying. He tried to think of how many times he’d seen her cry, but thought it might be a bad idea. This was supposed to be a happy occasion. Running away meant freedom for the both of them. He just wished he knew what she was trying to free herself from.
Oliver reached into his backpack and took out a book. Frankenstein. It was too dark to read, but he loved the way it felt. The paperback cover was cracked and worn, but he loved how the rough edges felt. He loved the feel of it almost as much as he loved the contents of the book.
Trista rested her head on Oliver’s shoulder. He looked at her golden hair as it fell over his shoulder and chest; as it tickled his neck and ear.
“Thanks for coming with me,” she said. She yawned. Her breath smelled like cigarettes.
“Of course,” Oliver said. “I couldn’t let you go out on your own.” He set his book in his lap and leaned his head against hers. “Do you think they’ll miss us? Our parents, I mean.”
Trista lifted her head and looked at Oliver. “Your mother might.” She pulled her legs back and wrapped her arms around her knees. She then buried her face in her arms.
“I’m sorry,” Oliver said. “It’s just… I don’t… What are you trying to get away from?”
Trista looked at Oliver. “I need a cigarette.” She reached into the front pocket of her bag and pulled out a package of cigarettes, and a red lighter. She stood and walked to the door of the train car where she sat and dangled her legs over the side. Trista put a cigarette in her mouth and lit it. She took a deep drag and watched as the smoke was sucked from the car.
Stupid, stupid, stupid, Oliver thought. He sat next to her and stared at the ground as it sped by. He tapped his fingers on his legs, imagining he were pressing the keys of his piano at home. He’d been gone for only a few hours and he already missed his music. He always told his mother he wanted to be a famous pianist someday. Music and books. That was all he cared about. And Trista.
Trista held the pack of cigarettes out. “Want one?”
Oliver looked at Trista, and then at the cigarettes. “I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve never smoked before.”
“You’ve never run away before, but here you are.”
Oliver shrugged and took one. He smelled it. It smelled like Trista’s breath, which reminded him of his brief moment of ecstasy when Trista rested her head on his shoulder. He put the cigarette between his lips and leaned in so Trista could light it. He took a drag and immediately erupted in a fit of coughing. He pulled the cigarette from his mouth and lay back, hoping it would ease his choking.
Between his coughs, he could hear Trista laughing. When his chokes eased, he sat up and smiled. “Glad to see my misery humors you.” He took a smaller drag of his cigarette and held it in. It burned his lungs and his throat, and it made his head spin a little. He exhaled and watched as the smoke was sucked away.
“Good?” Trista asked.
Oliver shrugged. “You make it look pretty good.”
Trista smiled and looked out of the train car. Oliver leaned forward and saw the smile fade. “Oli,” she said.
“When you get your box of stars…” she flicked her cigarette away and looked at him. “…don’t forget about me.”