Boundless (Unearthly, #3)

Boundless (Unearthly, #3) by Cynthia Hand


The first thing I’m aware of is the dark. Like somebody just shut off the lights. I squint into the inky nothingness, straining to see something, anything, but my eyes don’t adjust. Tentatively I feel with my feet along the floor, which is oddly slanted, as if the room is being tilted downward. I take a step back, and my leg strikes something hard. I stop. Try to regain my balance. Listen.

There are voices, faint voices, from somewhere above.

I don’t know what this vision is about yet, where I am or what I’m supposed to be doing or who I’m hiding from. But I do know this: I’m hiding.

And something terrible has happened.

It’s possible that I’m crying. My nose is running, but I don’t try to wipe at it. I don’t move. I’m scared. I could call the safety of glory, I think, but then they would find me. Instead I draw my hands into fists to stop the trembling. The darkness closes in, encasing me, and for a moment I fight the urge to call glory so hard that my fingernails break the surface of my palms.

Be still, I tell myself. Be quiet.

I let the darkness swallow me whole.



“How you holding up, Clara?”

I jolt back to myself in the middle of my bedroom, a pile of old magazines strewn around my feet, which I must have dropped when the vision hit. My breath is still frozen in my lungs; my muscles tense, as if they are preparing me to run. The light streaming through the window hurts my eyes. I blink at Billy, who leans against the door frame of my bedroom and offers up an understanding smile.

“What’s the matter, kid?” she asks when I don’t answer. “Vision got you down?”

I gulp in a breath. “How did you know?”

“I get them, too. Plus I’ve been hanging around people who have visions for most of my life. I recognize the post-vision face.” She takes me by the shoulders and sits down with me at the edge of my bed. We wait until my breathing quiets. “Do you want to talk about it?” she asks.

“There’s not a lot to it yet,” I say. I’ve been having this vision all summer, since Italy with Angela. So far there hasn’t been much to go on but darkness, terror, an oddly slanted floor. “Should I tell you anyway?”

Billy shakes her head. “You can if you want, if it would help you get things off your chest. But visions are personal, for you and you alone, in my opinion.”

I’m relieved she’s so laid-back about it. “How do you do it?” I ask after a minute. “How do you go on living like normal when you know that something bad’s going to happen?”

There’s pain in her smile. She puts her warm brown hand over mine. “You learn to find your happiness, kid,” she says. “You figure out those things that give your life meaning, and you hold on to them. You try to stop worrying about the stuff you can’t control.”

“Easier said than done.” I sigh.

“It takes practice.” She claps a hand on my shoulder, squeezes. “You all right now? Ready to come up swinging?”

I conjure a weak smile. “Yes, ma’am.”

“All right, then, get to work,” she says playfully. I resume packing, which is what I was doing before the vision clobbered me, and Billy grabs a tape gun and starts sealing up the finished boxes. “You know, I helped your mom pack for Stanford, back in the day. 1963. We were roomies, living in San Luis Obispo, a little house by the beach.”

I’m going to miss Billy, I think as she goes on. Most of the time when I look at her, I can’t help but see my mom, not because the two of them look anything alike, outside of being tall and gorgeous, but because, as my mom’s best friend for like the last hundred years, Billy has a million memories like this one about Stanford, funny stories and sad ones, times when Mom got a bad haircut or when she lit the kitchen on fire trying to make bananas flambé or when they were nurses in World War I together and Mom saved a man’s life with nothing but a bobby pin and a rubber band. It’s the next best thing to being with Mom, hanging with Billy. It’s like, for those few minutes, when she’s telling the stories, Mom’s alive again.

“Hey, you okay?” Billy asks.

“Almost done.” I cough to cover the catch in my voice, then fold up the last sweater, lay it in a box, and glance around. Even though I haven’t packed everything, even though I’ve left my posters on the walls and some of my stuff out, my room looks emptied, like I’ve already moved out of this place.

I can’t believe that, after tomorrow, I won’t live here anymore.

“You can come home anytime you like,” Billy says. “Remember that. This is your house. Just call and tell me you’re on your way and I’ll run over and put fresh sheets on the bed.”

She pats my hand and then heads downstairs to load boxes into her truck. She’ll be driving to California tomorrow, too, while Angela’s mom, Anna, and I follow along behind in my car. I go out into the hall. The house is quiet, but it also seems to have some kind of energy, like it’s full of ghosts. I stare at Jeffrey’s closed door. He should be here. He should have already started his junior year at Jackson Hole High School. He should be well into football practice and his disgusting early-morning protein shakes and tons of mismatched stinky gym socks in the laundry basket. I should be able to go to his door right now and knock and hear him say, Go away, but I’d go in anyway, and then he’d look at me from his computer and maybe turn his throbbing music down a notch or two, smirk, and say, Aren’t you gone yet? and maybe I’d think of something smart to fire back, but in the end we’d both know that he would miss me. And I would miss him.

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