When we got back to the top again, Irene was crying, and she said, "I'm really sorry, Cam. I'm sorry. I don't know what else to say."
Irene's face was bright against the dark of the sky, her eyes all shimmery wet, pieces of her hair blown free from her ponytail. She was beautiful. Everything in me wanted to kiss her, and at the same time it felt like everything in me was sick. I pulled my hand away from hers and looked out over my side of the car, dizzy with nausea. I closed my eyes to keep from throwing up, and even then I could taste it. I heard Irene next to me saying my name, but she sounded like she was saying it from beneath a pile of sand. They had stopped the ride to let people off and on down below. We shifted in the wind. We started up again, moved a few clicks, stopped. Now I wanted to be back on the midway and in the rush of all that noise. Irene was still crying beside me.
"We can't be friends like we were before, Irene," I told her, keeping my eyes fixed on a couple all twined up in the parking lot.
"Why?" she asked.
The ride started up again. Our car jerked and we were lowered a few clicks. We stopped. Now we hovered half in the sky and half in the midway - level with the bright canvas tops of the game booths. I didn't say anything. I let the music plink. I remembered the feel of her mouth that day in the hayloft, the taste of her gum and the root beer we'd been drinking. The day she dared me to kiss her. And the very next day my parents' car had veered through the guardrail.
I didn't say anything. If Irene hadn't connected those dots herself, then it wasn't my place to do it for her, to explain that everybody knows how things happen for a reason, and that we had made a reason and bad, bad, unthinkable things had happened.
Excerpted from The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth. Copyright © 2012 by Emily M Danforth. Excerpted by permission of Balzer + Bray. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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