Flashback, Spring break, 2084 - their native dimension. April and Beau are 21.
April hadn’t been sleeping, just lying in the dark watching the wind blow the long sheers at the patio doors. Her hair was still wet, but she'd put on dry clothes, and she was actually pretty pissed if he'd lost that bathing suit in the ocean because it was really cute and she'd spent a lot of money on it. The bedroom door opened and April knew it was Beau, his weight on that side of the bed, the smell of his clothes. “Go away,” she said.
Flashback, Spring break, 2084 - their native dimension. April and Beau are 21, Summer and Vicky are 20.
April ran out first into the water, thigh deep, warm and lapping around her knees. The sky was clear and blue and hot, and they were on spring break.
They were in college and there was a war going on. There was a war going on, and they were treating themselves to passed midterms and a spring break vacation. Summer always told April she didn't think about things enough, she didn't pay attention to what was important in the world, politics and war and real things. April didn't want to. Real things were too scary. Real things were too scary even before the war started. And now nothing was right or normal, no matter how they framed it, so when Vicky suggested spring break, April knew it was just what they needed. Summer said it felt so trivial. Maybe it did, after everything. But Vicky had rich and guilt-ridden parents, and they were paying for the trip -- even Summer's ticket -- so who would decline?
You had to let go of the past. You had to keep your spirits up and move forward. April didn't know much, but she knew that was the only way to survive.
This is not LH yet. Petaluma, California. Time unknown.
It wasn't New Year's Eve yet, though the calendar said it was December. The bunch of them had stopped StorySkipping for long enough to take note of the time of year. Winter. Christmastime? There was no snow here like they were used to in Lakeside Heights, but just a chill and early, darkened nights, and the overwhelming pressure of holiday cheer with none of the stress of celebration. None of them expected to be here long enough to need to buy presents.
Carly arrived that evening and April's bar was full of the usual suspects, apart from one. "Is Kyle here? He told me to meet him here."
"Yeah, he's here," April said, pausing her pour for a second to look around. "Somewhere."
"There's a football game in the other room," Carly said. "He's probably comatose."
This is not LH yet. Petaluma, California. Time unknown. Approximate ages: Mariah and Micah Buchanan are 35, Quinn is 13, Lily is 12, Ben is 7, Elijah is 5.
For Mariah Buchanan, it was an ordinary morning in what had turned out to be an ordinary life. Her story was told, a Happy Ending, and she and Micah were living out their Happily Ever After. It was better than she'd expected and more than most people could ask for.
She'd just cleaned up breakfast after having sent the kids off to school. That was when she heard the email notification on her phone. She always forgot to turn off those damn notifications. No big deal though -- it was probably just sales spam from the shoe store, spam from the bookstore, spam from the grocery store.
But for some reason, she felt worried. The school never emailed when something was wrong -- they would have called. But there was something wrong, and she knew it. She couldn't shake it. So she checked her email.
This is not LH yet: Petaluma, California. Time unknown. Approximate ages: April and Beau are 25, Carly is 30.
The needle started to buzz, so much louder than she'd anticipated. She'd imagined a soft noise, like the whir of an electronic toothbrush. But not this -- this thing was like a jackhammer! But what did she know? She'd never gotten a tattoo before.
April cringed waiting for the impact. It wasn't the pain she worried about so much as the permanence. Forever is a long time. And she was poor, so laser removal treatments wouldn't be an option. Signing up for something was easy, but wasn't the removal part always the most complicated? Broken promises, leases, contracts, marriages, unwanted tattoos. Why did everything have to involve such commitment?
"No!!!" April screeched. "Wait! No, no. Not there. I changed my mind."
This is not LH: Petaluma, California. Time unknown.
Approximate ages: Corbin is 33, Carly is 30, Leila and Matt are 29.
Carly was unsure when Corbin first asked her out. First of all, she knew he was living with someone... someone and her husband, however it was that worked. Carly didn't pretend to know the story there. She didn't think he was her type, or even that she liked him much at all. She knew from friends that he was supposedly good in bed, but knowing that some of her friends had actually been in bed with him was a little off-putting in itself. But she thought they could have dinner, some conversation, because she craved someone to talk to here, a thing so simple as companionship.
Carly lost all of her friends in the rewrite. All of them. They all made it into the novel and Carly got written clean out of it. No mentions, no references. She didn't even exist in the backstory.
This is not LH either: Petaluma, California. Time unknown.
Approximate ages: April, Beau and Tyler are 25, Summer is 24.
April had never heard of storyskipping before. Neither had Beau. But in the past few months (if you could call them months -- with as many transfers as they'd had, time sort of lost its meaning) they were getting a crash course in different dimensions. The second dimension didn't last long, the third was longer, a lovely place with a warm, sandy beach. The fourth looked like home, but wasn't. And here was their fifth, Petaluma, they called it. April wasn't expecting this to last long. The letters had been coming so frequently. "Sorry for your inconvenience," they often said. "Due to unforeseen circumstances, you are being transferred. You have one hour to say your goodbyes." Some have speculated that The Author was having a nervous breakdown of sorts.
It got tiring, and it got lonesome, never getting the chance to settle in, make friends, establish new hook-up buddies, never knowing when it was going to happen or why. Most people couldn't understand what was happening to them -- it hadn't happened to them before. They didn't believe in it. And yet every time they transferred, they went together. April and Beau. Beau and April. At least they had that.
The worst thing they could have done was try to have a relationship together.