At the Edge of the World
Available: August 26, 2014
Format: E-book (Paperback POD Coming Soon)
Genre: YA, Magical Realism, Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Tags: Young Adult, YA, Magical Realism, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Coming of Age, Fantasy
Length: 52,000 words // 107 pages.
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Lost in the chaos of Venice Beach, among the homegrown freaks and weirdos, the tourists and life’s forgotten people, one runaway is just another face in the crowd—and this is just how Shane likes it. Torn between the home he left behind and lure of the ocean he ran to, something has tied his fates to the beach, and he is not the only one.
She is a famous mystery: the Venice Skater Chick. Shane has loved her since his first night on the beach. Others are watching her, too—and at least one wants her dead.
A mystery unfolds between the famed boardwalk, a dusty record store, a cramped apartment and a hidden cave. Under the gathering storms, Shane makes a desperate attempt to protect the girl he loves, and the life waiting for him on the other side.
The voice came from far off, and right behind him at once. Shane startled, stumbling back so he landed on his butt, the damp earth seeping through the abused fabric almost instantly. He would be upset about that later, but, for the moment, he was feverishly scanning the canal for whatever neighbor had finally noticed his encroachment.
His gaze lit on something silvery on the other side of the canal, crouched behind a paddle boat, glossy fingers clutching at the side, hair a wild mess over her shoulders.
“What are you doing?” he demanded before he could think of something else to say.
Her eyes darted from side to side, and then her focus retuned to him. “What are you doing?” was her return, like an echo.
That was a better question, maybe. Maybe she lived there, and it was Shane sneaking around where he didn’t belong.
“I’ve never really looked at them,” he said, finally, shifting his legs closer and tucking his feet under him; his ass was already wet, there was nothing to do about that.
“The canals?” Again her gaze swept up and down the expanse of water and then — then — she smiled. It was the first smile he’d ever seen on her face, and it made his heart stop cold in his chest, painful and swollen.
“They’re not really for… people like me,” he finished, gesturing down at his long body, the jeans that were a permanent shade of grey, the frayed and stained hoodie.
She studied him from across the water. The sun glinted off it at crazy angles, moving stars in front of his eyes even as he squinted against the glare.
“You never come back here because you don’t belong?” She sounded surprised by this, as if the words sounded strange in her own mouth.
“I guess you could put it that way,” he agreed, scratching at the back of his neck, the sweat gathering there, making his fingertips sticky.
“Oh.” Her fingers curled against the hard plastic of the paddle boat and, for a moment, he thought he glimpsed gloves on her hands, the usual, but in some kind of shimmering green.
They disappeared behind the boat. “Turn around,” she commanded him.
There was no reason for him to obey, but he did anyway, shifting up on his knees, moving in the mud and moss, so that he was facing the house on the side of the canal. It was larger than anything he’d ever lived in, thousands of dollars of real estate filled with furniture that, from his vantage point, looked un-sat-upon, perfect and magazine ready. He counted his breaths, each one in and out, ten, and then twenty, and at thirty, he vowed to turn at fifty, sure he was being had, and at forty-two, he felt a tap on his shoulder.
With his knees on the ground, she stood above him like a sentry, more so than she had on the beach. He saw her feet were bare again, and the jeans she wore were soaked to the knees, clinging to her skin like a second layer. She was wearing a tank-top, blue, and gloves, but yellow, knit and odd against the wet of her skin.
“How’d you get across?” he asked, struggling to his feet, slipping in the moss.
She looked over the water with a sort of casual disinterest, even as her hand shot out to catch his arm and bring him up to his full height, taller than her, but only just.
“I just did.”
On each hand she pulled on the fingerless gloves. She tied the skates with those in place, legs covered by jeans, stomach and breasts by the tank top that stuck to her like skin. Maya fastened each piece to her like armor, rose to her feet like a giraffe first testing its legs, before she found her balance and rolled forward, picking up speed down the first slope that led towards the main part of Venice Beach.
It was comfort as much as it was a way to move: the wind on her skin and that rumble of wheels over the sidewalk. She never fell, but she suspected she would welcome that, as well, the connection to the earth, like a ribbon keeping her from breaking free entirely.
She never timed herself, but it was ten every morning when she appeared at the end of the boardwalk. The air was not too warm yet, and so maybe that was it: it still smelled salty from the ocean tide, the concrete holding the chill of the night. She could see herself at those times, like a bird, and she raised her hands just once, a wave to those she went past and never spoke to.
There was much speculation about what she did in the hours between ten and four, between four and ten, and the truth was: not a whole lot. She skated into the city sometimes, and back, but she couldn’t make herself move too far from the ocean at any time. She tried, a little bit at a time, like a child trying out steps away from her mother’s hands, but there was a pull that brought her in sight of the water, and her lungs always ached for the salty air, the wind that brought it in off the white caps. The city was full of smoke and harsh noises and grimacing faces, and though there were things she tried to see, to stare at, stand in, her feet always found her home.
Home was Venice. She skated over the little ornate bridges over the canals, up and down the streets of expensive houses and cars, past the flowers and leaning trees and smartly-dressed children.
And sometimes she did take the skates off. She stashed them in rental lockers and under abandoned stairs, in gardens no one was currently tending, and she let her feet meet the earth: the scalding surface of blacktop and the cool of grass, the grit of sand. She only did this when no one was around, when her hands were her own and her body was unnoticed.
Only Shane had glimpsed her this way. She knew why, and she didn’t, and why she didn’t rush away at first glimpse.
She simply couldn’t.
About the Author
L.C. Spoering (generally known as Lorrie) lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, kids, and too many pets. She has a degree in English writing from University of Colorado, and a lesser degree in sarcasm earned from the days of yore on AOL. A storyteller since she started talking, she now spends her days writing, reading and contemplating the universe through various pop culture lenses.