Read The Geography of You and Me Online

Authors: JENNIFER E. SMITH

The Geography of You and Me

Also by Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks Like

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

The Storm Makers

You Are Here

The Comeback Season

Copyright

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2014 by Jennifer E. Smith Inc.

All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher is unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the publisher at [email protected] Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.

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First Edition: April 2014

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

RRD-C

Printed in the United States of America

To Allison, Erika, Brian, Melissa, Meg, and Joe—for being such great company during the real blackout

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

—e.e. cummings

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Also by Jennifer E. Smith

Copyright

Dedication

Epigraph

Part 1: Here

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Part II: There

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Part III: Everywhere

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Part IV: Somewhere

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Part V: Home

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Acknowledgments

PART I
Here
1

On the first day of September
, the world went dark.

But from where she stood in the blackness, her back pressed against the brassy wall of an elevator, Lucy Patterson had no way of knowing the scope of it yet.

She couldn’t have imagined, then, that it stretched beyond the building where she’d lived all her life, spilling out onto the streets, where the traffic lights had gone blank and the hum of the air conditioners had fallen quiet, leaving an eerie, pulsing silence. Already, there were people streaming out onto the long avenues that stretched the length of Manhattan, pushing their way toward home like salmon moving up a river. All over the island, car horns filled the air and windows were thrown open, and in thousands upon thousands of freezers, the ice cream began to melt.

The whole city had been snuffed out like a candle, but from the unlit cube of the elevator, Lucy couldn’t possibly have known this.

Her first thought wasn’t to worry about the violent jolt that had brought them up short between the tenth and eleventh floors, making the whole compartment rattle like a ride at an amusement park. And it wasn’t a concern for their escape, because if there was anything that could be depended on in this world—far more, even, than her parents—it was the building’s small army of doormen, who had never failed to greet her after school, or remind her to bring an umbrella when it was rainy, who were always happy to run upstairs and kill a spider or help unclog the shower drain.

Instead, what she felt was a kind of sinking regret over her rush to make this particular elevator, having dashed through the marble-floored lobby and caught the doors just before they could seal shut. If only she’d waited for the next one, she would’ve still been standing downstairs right now, speculating with George—who worked the afternoon shift—about the source of the power outage, rather than being stuck in this small square of space with someone she didn’t even know.

The boy hadn’t looked up when she’d slipped through the doors just a few minutes earlier, but instead kept his eyes trained on the burgundy carpet as they shut again with a bright ding. She’d stepped to the back of the elevator without acknowledging him, either, and in the silence that followed she could hear the low thump of music from his headphones as the back of his white-blond head bobbed, just slightly, his rhythm not quite there. She’d noticed him
around before, but this was the first time it struck her how much he looked like a scarecrow, tall and lanky and loose-limbed, a study of lines and angles all jumbled together in the shape of a teenage boy.

He’d moved in just last month, and she’d watched that day from the coffee shop next door as he and his father carried a small collection of furniture back and forth across the gum-stained sidewalk. She’d known they were hiring a new superintendent, but she hadn’t known he’d be bringing his son, too, much less a son who looked to be about her age. When she’d tried getting more information out of the doormen, all they could tell her was that they were somehow related to the building’s owner.

She’d seen him a few more times after that—at the mailboxes or crossing the lobby or waiting for the bus—but even if she’d been the kind of girl inclined to walk up and introduce herself, there still was something vaguely unapproachable about him. Maybe it was the earbuds he always seemed to be wearing, or the fact that she’d never seen him talking to anyone before; maybe it was the way he slipped in and out of the building so quickly, like he was desperate not to be caught, or the faraway look in his eyes when she spotted him across the subway platform. Whatever the reason, it seemed to Lucy that the idea of ever meeting him—the idea of even saying something as harmless as
hello
—was unlikely for reasons she couldn’t quite articulate.

When the elevator had wrenched to a stop, their eyes
met, and in spite of the situation, she’d found herself wondering—ridiculously—whether he recognized her, too. But then the lights above them had snapped off, and they were both left blinking into the darkness, the floor still quivering beneath them. There were a few metallic sounds from above—two loud clanks followed by a sharp bang—and then something seemed to settle, and except for the faint beat of his music, it was silent.

As her eyes adjusted, Lucy could see him frown as he pulled out his earbuds. He glanced in her direction before turning to face the panel of buttons, jabbing at a few with his thumb. When they refused to light up, he finally hit the red emergency one, and they both cocked their heads, waiting for the speaker to crackle to life.

Nothing happened, so he punched it again, then once more. Finally, he lifted his shoulders in a shrug. “It must be the whole building,” he said without turning around.

Lucy lowered her eyes, trying to avoid the little red arrow above the door, which was poised somewhere between the numbers 10 and 11. She was doing her best not to picture the empty elevator shaft below, or the thick cables stretched above them.

“I’m sure they’re already working on it,” she said, though she wasn’t at all sure. She’d been in the elevator when it got stuck before, but never when the lights had gone out, too, and now her legs felt unsteady beneath her, her stomach wound tight. Already, the air seemed too warm and the space too small.

She cleared her throat. “George is just downstairs, so…”

The boy turned to face her, and though it was still too dark for details, she could see him more clearly with each minute that passed. She was reminded of a science experiment her class did in fifth grade, where the teacher dropped a mint into each of the students’ cupped palms, then switched off the lights and told them to bite down hard, and a series of tiny sparks lit up the room. This was how he seemed to her now: his teeth flashing when he spoke, the whites of his eyes bright against the blackness.

“Yeah, but if it’s the whole building, this could take a while,” he said, slumping against the wall. “And my dad’s not around this afternoon.”

“My parents are away, too,” Lucy told him, and she could just barely make out the expression on his face, an odd look in her direction.

“I meant ’cause he’s the super,” he said. “But he’s just in Brooklyn, so I’m sure he’ll be back soon.”

“Do you think…?” she began, then paused, not sure how to phrase the question. “Do you think we’re okay till then?”

“I think we’ll be fine,” he said, his voice reassuring; then, with a hint of amusement, he added: “Unless, of course, you’re afraid of the dark.”

“I’m okay,” she said, sliding down the wall until she was sitting on the floor, her elbows resting on her knees. She attempted a smile, which emerged a little wobbly. “I’ve heard monsters prefer closets to elevators.”

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