The Outside by Laura Bickle

The Outside by Laura Bickle

Author:Laura Bickle
Language: eng
Format: mobi, epub
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Published: 2013-09-02T21:00:00+00:00


One of the most enduring lessons I had learned on this journey was that nothing ever stays the same. Not for long. That was in direct opposition to what I’d been taught as a child: to preserve order and to value the predictability of day-to-day life. This new world was constantly in flux, and we moved with it, as if pushed by a great and terrible river.

But sometimes we found ourselves washed up on a tiny island. Times like these were precious. But they had to end. We always had to jump from the safety of the island back into the river again.

At the department store, we had loved, slept, eaten, and gathered provisions. We stripped the camping department bare. We had found a tent, warm boots, a camp stove, a fancy metal stone that sparked fire, and a nesting set of camp dishes and cutlery. There were flashlights and batteries and even a radio. It never captured anything but static while we were in the store, but Alex assured me that it might be different elsewhere. I pretended to believe him and carefully read the cold rating systems for the sleeping bags. Fenrir was helping me; he had tunneled into one and installed himself as an immovable lump in the bottom. Horace had dismembered all of the scarecrows on the lower level, and his sides felt firm and round as he digested their limbs.

When we were ready to go, when Horace was packed up and the backpacks were full and propped beside the glowing mannequins, I came to Alex. He had dressed himself in the warmest coat he’d found, which he called his pimp coat. It was a long black leather coat with a bizarre gray and black furry lining.

“It’s like Blade meets Jersey Shore,” Alex said.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“It would take too long to explain and would reduce your faith in humanity.”

“Ja, thanks, then.”

I had dug through the women’s department and found a long dark gray coat. It was lined in velvet and possibly the warmest garment I’d ever seen. I’d picked out some tall warm boots without heels and plenty of traction, and gloves and warm leggings.

I had found myself a dress that was as close as possible to an Amish dress. It was dark purple, and long-sleeved, reaching nearly to the tops of my boots. The neck was fancy, with ruffles that reached up to my chin. And there were ruffles on the cuffs. But it was, by and large, plain. I put my bonnet on and walked out to meet Alex and the animals.

He nodded in approval at me. “You look beautiful, Bonnet.”

“Thank you,” I said. The idea still seemed unfamiliar.

He reached down to unlatch the metal grate. I squinted. It had been too long since I’d seen full daylight. I’d grown accustomed to the faint half-light of candles and the softly glowing luminescence of the mannequins. I shaded my eyes with my hand.

“Oh,” I breathed.

It had begun to snow. The ground was coated in a thin layer of white.


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