Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling
The sun is aggressive, beating down into the street. Sweat sticks my t-shirt to my lower back and I imagine icicles and snowy hills of winter instead of the blistering city in the dead of summer.
I hate July.
I’m going to have to run to catch the shuttle at Cheverly. The metro lines are down again as if the trains are protesting the sticky putrid underground air. It seems like they always are lately, but maybe it’s my mind playing tricks.
My feet slap the pavement and I have an arm up to ask the driver to wait, though I know the cause is pretty much lost.
That’s when he catches me.
Eyes green like apples but blue like the water when I was on Caribbean cruise before my family hated me. Eyes that are crystalline, light, and not paying attention.
A cab runs the red, and I know he’s going to die.
My runner’s legs tense, and I know before I turn in his direction that I’ll be too late.
A car horn screams, the sound too light and high for the pounding in my chest.
Somebody yells, “Hey!” but that won’t stop the cab or move the beautiful boy.
The cab clips his left hip, he scorpion falls to the pavement, limbs flailing, smacking his head with a crack like lightning. Beach glass eyes close as he rolls to a stop.
A toddler’s hand slaps me across the face.
“Li-Li! Wake up!”
“Clovie?” My best friend’s baby sister is bouncing on my bed and smiling so big you’d think I hung the moon. To her maybe I can. My hands shake as I ruffle her hair and push the dream and the boy’s blue green eyes out of my mind.
“Clover!” Harrison calls from the front of the apartment. “Did you wake up Liam?”
“No!” she screams. He laughs.
Harrison and I are in charge of the kid for the weekend while his parents are out of town. Not the normal routine for college freshman, but I love the little squirt, so having her bouncing directly on my kneecap is only slightly unpleasant.
“Sorry,” Harrison says, plucking the three year old out of the bed and flipping her upside down. She shrieks and her chubby arms flail as she laughs.
“What’s today?” he smiles down at her.
“Aquarium,” he tells her. “We’re going to the aquarium.”
“Yes. Sharkies,” she insists. He flips her around so she rests on his hip. “LiLi comes!”
Harrison’s eyes rake over my face. It’s probably ragged. His eyebrows disappear into his curly hair, questioning. I half shrug. “He might not want to come,” he tells her.
“Please?” Her big chocolate eyes are too much.
We take Harrison’s car to the metro station. Clover’s headphones keep her occupied on her iPad games in the backseat.
“I had another dream,” I offer.
“I figured,” he says.
That’s why Harrison is my best friend. He is unassuming. He’s the type of guy who will say, “Okay, what do I call you?” when you come out to him as trans. He’s the type of college guy who takes his little sister to see sharkies on a precious day off. He will not probe you for info when you tell him you come from a line of Fates and you think your testosterone injections are causing you to have dreams that are tangled with reality.
He will say, “What can I do?” When you wake up screaming from a dream where your older brother dies in a boating accident. Then, he will refuse to wear a suit to the funeral two weeks later because he knows your brother would hate people standing around him wearing suits.
He’s the type of guy who can have a Fated transgender roommate and not bat an eye. I’m lucky.
“It was different this time,” I tell him.
“I don’t know.” But I do. This time I knew that boy without even knowing him. Whoever he is, he’s meant to stay. Or maybe I’m meant to stay with him.
“Did you talk to Liv about it?”
“You know what she would say.” My grandmother is Fated too. It skips generations, and she was disappointed when I didn’t have the sight. But when the dreams started a month after I got on testosterone, she knew I had found my future.
“To leave it alone?” It;s more statement than question.
“You have to,” he says.
I make a noise that’s somewhere between a groan and a sigh.
“It could kill you. Or someone else,” he says. “You told me how it works. There will be consequences.”
“Thanks, Mom.” It sounds like a joke, but I’m angry. “I don’t understand what the point is. Seeing these things and not being able to stop them.”
He shakes his head and parks the car. “Liv will teach you.”
“Maybe I’ll go see her tomorrow. It shouldn’t be today anyway.”
“Good,” he reaches behind the seat to grab Clover’s foot. “Ready?”
“Yes,” she cries.
I scoop her out of her car seat. “First we ride the metro, and then the aquarium, okay?”
“Close enough,” Harrison says.
We walk to the station swinging Clover between us, earning odd looks from passersby. Two young guys with a toddler is uncommon. I focus on the kid and not on whether or not my strides match Harrison’s in terms of confidence, or whether or not my shoulders are broad enough and my hips are straight enough. They are they are they are.
“Oh, the lines aren’t running,” Harrison says as we get to the station entrance.
I let go of Clover’s hand. She jumps up, trying to catch my elbow.
“We have to take the shuttle from Cheverly.”
“What?” I should tell him right then. About the future. About how this kid can’t die.
But I’m not looking for an answer.
I’m looking for turquoise eyes.
I scan the crowd. The buses have everyone confused and gathered like cattle. The streets are clogged with cars, the weekend rush. It’s hectic and loud and gritty. Harrison swings Clover into his arms. I should’ve done that to keep me grounded. But I’m looking, and finding him.
Thin, lanky, with a brown hair buzzed short enough to put a military man to shame. His eyes are scanning too, but for what I don’t know. He steps into the street and I can’t breathe.
Harrison must feel me go rigid next to him.
“Liam.” It’s a warning.
But I’m already running.
“Li-Li!” Clover’s voice is already behind me.
It’s slow motion chaos.
He’s watching the crowds and not the cars.
The light turns red. His eyes catch mine and are all recognition until a horn tells me it’s about to happen. His eyes tear from mine.
It’s seconds, but it’s hours.
The cab’s brakes screech and I’m halfway through the crosswalk. He’s caught between awareness and helplessness, knowing he can’t get out of the way fast enough, so I lunge for him.
I catch his shoulder and ribcage with my chest, sending us both sprawling. The heat of the pavement burns into my skin and my legs glance off the cabs bumper, but we clear the tires. We roll to a stop, but in this reality, we are both breathing. It’s a tangle of limbs and for a moment my ears roar with adrenalin. There’s nothing but my heart pounding and my blood pumping and then thin fingers squeezing mine. I push myself up and shift my weight off him. We’re both bruised and bleeding.
His eyes are closed, but he’s got my fingers in a vice grip.
“Liam?” he asks.
My heart stops.
“Hey,” is all I can manage. He tries to sit up.
“Shh,” I say, “Stay still. I think you hit your head.”
Aquamarine eyes open. “I was looking for you.”
“You missed the cab.” I can’t think.
“You shouldn’t have done that.”
People press around us, cell phones in shaking hands. Shrill voices call for help. Sirens wail in the distance.
“Your eyes are greener than my dreams,” he says. “Like Clover.”
His focus scatters, eyes roll backward, consciousness lost. But the hand still grips mine, chest rises and falls, and I don’t care how I pay Fate for this, because I’m looking at Azure, and Azure is future.