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The Rest of Us Just Live Here(3)
Author: Patrick Ness

“Mel,” Henna says. “You gotta stop–”

Which is when one of the indie kids comes running out of the treeline, his old-timey jacket flapping out behind him. He pushes his fashionably black-rimmed glasses back on his nose and runs past about twenty feet from where we’re all tumbled together. He doesn’t see us – the indie kids never really see us, not even when we’re sitting next to them in class – just crosses the Field and disappears into the opposite treeline, which we all know only leads to deeper forest.

There’s a silent few seconds where we all exchange wtf glances and then a young girl glowing with her own light comes running out of the woods from where the indie kid came. She doesn’t see us either, though she’s so bright we all have to shade our eyes, and then she disappears into the second treeline, too.

None of us says anything for a minute, then Jared asks, “Was that Finn?”

“Which Finn?” my sister says. “Aren’t all the indie kids called Finn?”

“I think there are a couple Dylans,” Henna says, “and a Nash.”

“There are two Satchels, I know that,” I say. “A boy Satchel and a girl Satchel.”

“It was one of the Finns,” Jared says. “I’m pretty sure.”

A pillar of blue light, bright enough to see even in the sunshine, shoots up suddenly from a point where the indie kid (I think Jared’s right, it was one of the ones called Finn) and the glowing girl might have run.

“What are they doing now?” Mel says. “What was with the little girl?”

“And the lights?” I say.

“They better not blow up the high school again,” Jared says. “My cousin had to have his graduation ceremony in a parking lot.”

“Do you think Nathan is an indie kid?” Henna asks, making Mel groan.

“The name could go either way,” Jared says, watching the pillar glow.

“What kind of a guy transfers to a new school five weeks before the end of his senior year?” I ask, trying not to make it sound like anything, tapping the corners of my textbook again.

“The kind of guy that Henna falls in love with,” Mel says.

“OH MY GOD I DIDN’T SAY LOVE!” Henna shouts.

Mel grins. “You sure seem to have a lot of passion about the subject, though. Or is that just your stomach talking?”

The wind stops, all of a sudden.

“Light’s gone,” Jared says. The pillar of light has faded. We can’t hear the sound of anyone running any more. We watch the woods, not sure what to expect, then we all jump when my sister ’s laptop starts playing a song we like. It’s an alarm she set. It means our parents have left our house for the evening to go visit our grandmother.

It means it’s safe to go home.

CHAPTER THE SECOND,  in which indie kid Satchel writes a poem, and her mom and dad give her loving space to just feel what she needs to; then an indie kid called Dylan arrives at her house, terrified, to say a mysterious glowing girl has informed him of the death of indie kid Finn; Satchel and Dylan comfort each other, platonically.

Over the course of my life, I’ve told Henna about my mad, desperate feelings for her exactly zero times.

We’ve got a lot in common: a thing with anxiety we don’t really like to talk about, best friends who we kind of love more than any girlfriend or boyfriend could really compete with, parents who …

aren’t the best. We’ve got Mel in common, of course, so that’s good, and we’re also both not indie kids, even though she’s totally got an indie kid name (but it’s because her dad is foreign, so it doesn’t count; and I guess in Finland, “Henna” isn’t very indie kid anyway. Plus her last name is impossible).

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