The Other Side of Here - E.M. Lindsey

Prologue

Once upon a ti—

“Fuck. No. Okay, uh…”

Dear Me…

“God, what the fuck am I doing?”

Once there was…

“Okay, I’m seriously going to fucking give up, this is the stupidest thing…”

Dear…

I don’t know who to address this to. Dear Diary sounds so contrived, but Dear Alexander sounds even worse. I’ve never liked talking to myself, which was why I thought this whole thing was a ridiculous idea, but Allie swears that it helped her work through some stuff. I considered writing to my parents, but it seems overly morbid to speak to the dead that way. I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to their graves when she dragged me there last weekend, so I don’t think I’d make it a full entry if I tried now.

Maybe in the future, which is a wild thought. The future. I never really considered not having one. I understood death as a concept, but it was never a reality until that knock on the door. And it was funny, because I knew. I don’t really believe in psychics or any of that shit. I used to hate when Mom would make me listen to my horoscope in the mornings. Funny how I’d give anything for it now.

I took Aunt Jenny’s paper the other morning and tried, but it wasn’t the same. I think maybe the magic is gone now that Mom is. Or maybe it’s just the grief.

But it’s been a year, and stuff is supposed to start making sense again, which is why I’m writing this. Not because I had some grand idea that life would make sense again after starting a diary—or letters. Whatever. But because I met someone.

He was in my morning history class. He wasn’t a TA—he was filling in because the guy was out sick, but I noticed him staring. I kind of thought maybe I was imagining things, but he caught up to me in line to get coffee outside Wells and offered to buy it.

That was when he told me he wasn’t the TA, which I was kind of bummed about because I mean, who doesn’t have a hot professor fantasy, right?

Oh. His name is Max, which is so…I don’t know. Not like him.

Anyway, he asked me out. There’s that stupid bar that all the history nerds hang out in, but I never get invited because I still haven’t figured out how to talk to people like a normal person. He told me he’d be there at eight, and it’s…shit. It’s six fifty, and I haven’t even started getting ready.

It feels like the start of something good. Maybe it won’t go anywhere, but it was the first time saying yes to something that was just for me didn’t make me feel like I was betraying my grief. I think my therapist would tell me I was making progress—if I was brave enough to go back.

Anyway, I have a new pair of jeans that are the most uncomfortable things I have ever worn, but Allie swears my ass has never looked better, so I’m gonna go for it.

Wish me luck, dear….

Dear…

Future husband? Maybe. Maybe you’re Max and you’re reading about the first night I met you and how stupid I was over a single date. Or maybe you’re someone else, laughing at me for being such a dumb kid back when I was nineteen.

Either way, hi. I’m Alexander. I’m a nineteen-year-old history major with two dead parents and the inability to speak in class, but I’m hoping I can get over myself soon because I want to be happy.

I’m hoping tonight starts something, because I think I’m ready.

Love Always,

Alexander

Xan missed being able to starfish on his bed, stretching his limbs wide and feeling all the parts of the sheet that had grown cold throughout the night. He always woke up overheated—he had since he was a kid. He used to trudge downstairs in boxers, and his mom would always give him a look, but she never really complained as she served him cold cereal with just a splash of milk because he hated the way it tasted when it was soggy.

She was always doing small things like that—tiny indulgences because he was picky. He should have been more grateful for her.

Now, his life consisted of trying not to wake his boyfriend, who was an epic asshole in the mornings, and shoving cold toast in his face as he made a mad-dash for campus, because the only place he ever really felt safe or comfortable anymore was the little nook in the

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