Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi Chapter 6

Read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi Chapter 6 – Six

1 word, 2 lips, 3 4 5 fingers form 1 fist.

1 corner, 2 parents, 3 4 5 reasons to hide.

1 child, 2 eyes, 3 4 17 years of fear.

A broken broomstick, a pair of wild faces, angry whispers, locks on my door.

Look at me, is what I wanted to say to you. Talk to me every once in a while. Find me a cure for these tears, I’d really like to exhale for the first time in my life.

It’s been 2 weeks.

2 weeks of the same routine, 2 weeks of nothing but routine. 2 weeks with the cellmate who has come too close to touching me who does not touch me. Adam is adapting to the system. He never complains, he never volunteers too much information, he continues to ask too many questions.

He’s nice to me.

I sit by the window and watch the rain and the leaves and the snow collide. They take turns dancing in the wind, performing choreographed routines for unsuspecting masses. The soldiers stomp stomp stomp through the rain, crushing leaves and fallen snow under their feet. Their hands are wrapped in gloves wrapped around guns that could put a bullet through a million possibilities. They don’t bother to be bothered by the beauty that falls from the sky. They don’t understand the freedom in feeling the universe on their skin. They don’t care.

I wish I could stuff my mouth full of raindrops and fill my pockets full of snow. I wish I could trace the veins in a fallen leaf and feel the wind pinch my nose.

Instead, I ignore the desperation sticking my fingers together and watch for the bird I’ve only seen in my dreams. Birds used to fly, is what the stories say. Before the ozone layer deteriorated, before the pollutants mutated the creatures into something horrible different. They say the weather wasn’t always so unpredictable. They say there were birds who used to soar through the skies like planes.

It seems strange that a small animal could achieve anything as complex as human engineering, but the possibility is too enticing to ignore. I’ve dreamt about the same bird flying through the same sky for exactly 10 years. White with streaks of gold like a crown atop its head.

It’s the only dream I have that gives me peace.

“What are you writing?”

I squint up at his strong stature, the easy grin on his face. I don’t know how he manages to smile in spite of everything. I wonder if he can hold on to that shape, that special curve of the mouth that changes lives. I wonder how he’ll feel in 1 month and I shudder at the thought.

I don’t want him to end up like me.

Empty.

“Hey—” He grabs the blanket off my bed and crouches next to me, wasting no time wrapping the thin cloth around my thinner shoulders. “You okay?”

I try to smile. Decide to avoid his question. “Thank you for the blanket.”

He sits down next to me and leans against the wall. His shoulders are so close too close never close enough. His body heat does more for me than the blanket ever will. Something in my joints aches with an acute yearning, a desperate need I’ve never been able to fulfill. My bones are begging for something I cannot allow.

Touch me.

He glances at the little notebook tucked in my hand, at the broken pen clutched in my fist. I close the book and roll it into a little ball. I shove it into a crack in the wall. I study the pen in my palm. I know he’s staring at me.

“Are you writing a book?”

“No.” No I am not writing a book.

“Maybe you should.”

I turn to meet his eyes and regret it immediately. There are less than 3 inches between us and I can’t move because my body only knows how to freeze. Every muscle every movement tightens, every vertebra in my spinal column is a block of ice. I’m holding my breath and my eyes are wide, locked, caught in the intensity of his gaze. I can’t look away. I don’t know how to retreat.

Oh.

G*d.

His eyes.

I’ve been lying to myself, determined to deny the impossible.

I know him I know him I know him I know him

The boy who does not remember me I used to know.

“They’re going to destroy the English language,” he says, his voice careful, quiet.

I fight to catch my breath.

“They want to re-create everything,” he continues. “They want to redesign everything. They want to destroy anything that could’ve been the reason for our problems. They think we need a new, universal language.” He drops his voice. Drops his eyes. “They want to destroy everything. Every language in history.”

“No.” My breath hitches. Spots cloud my vision.

“I know.”

“No.” This I did not know.

He looks up. “It’s good that you’re writing things down. One day what you’re doing will be illegal.”

I’ve begun to shake. My body is suddenly fighting a maelstrom of emotions, my brain plagued by the world I’m losing and pained by this boy who does not remember me. The pen stumbles its way to the floor and I’m gripping the blanket so hard I’m afraid it’s going to tear. Ice slices my skin, h****r clots my veins. I never thought it would get this bad. I never thought The Reestablishment would take things so far. They’re incinerating culture, the beauty of diversity. The new citizens of our world will be reduced to nothing but numbers, easily interchangeable, easily removable, easily destroyed for disobedience.

We have lost our humanity.

I wrap the blanket around my shoulders until I’m cocooned in the tremors that won’t stop terrorizing my body. I’m horrified by my lack of self-control.

I can’t make myself still.

His hand is suddenly on my back.

His touch is scorching my skin through the layers of fabric and I inhale so fast my lungs collapse. I’m caught in colliding currents of confusion, so desperate so desperate so desperate to be close so desperate to be far away. I don’t know how to move away from him. I don’t want to move away from him.

I don’t want him to be afraid of me.

“Hey.” His voice is soft so soft so soft. His arms are stronger than all the bones in my body. He pulls my swaddled figure close to his chest and I shatter. Two three four fifty thousand pieces of feeling stab me in the heart, melt into drops of warm honey that soothe the scars in my soul. The blanket is the only barrier between us and he pulls me closer, tighter, stronger, until I hear the beats humming deep within his chest and the steel of his arms around my body severs all ties to tension in my limbs. His heat melts the icicles propping me up from the inside out and I thaw I thaw I thaw, my eyes fluttering fast until they fall closed, until silent tears are streaming down my face and I’ve decided the only thing I want to freeze is his frame holding mine. “It’s okay,” he whispers. “You’ll be okay.”

Truth is a jealous, vicious mistress that never ever sleeps, is what I don’t tell him. I’ll never be okay.

It takes every broken filament in my being to pull away from him. I do it because I have to. Because it’s for his own good. Someone is sticking forks in my back as I trip away. The blanket catches my foot and I nearly fall before Adam reaches out to me again. “Juliette—”

“You can’t t-touch me.” My breathing is shallow and hard to s*****w, my fingers shaking so fast I clench them into a fist. “You can’t touch me. You can’t.” My eyes are trained on the door.

He’s on his feet. “Why not?”

“You just can’t,” I whisper to the walls.

“I don’t understand—why won’t you talk to me? You sit in the corner all day and write in your book and look at everything but my face. You have so much to say to a piece of paper but I’m standing right here and you don’t even acknowledge me. Juliette, please—” He reaches for my arm and I turn away. “Why won’t you at least look at me? I’m not going to hurt you—”

You don’t remember me. You don’t remember that we went to the same school for 7 years.

You don’t remember me.

“You don’t know me.” My voice is even, flat; my limbs numb, amputated. “We’ve shared one space for two weeks and you think you know me but you don’t know anything about me. Maybe I am crazy.”

“You’re not,” he says through clenched teeth. “You know you’re not.”

“Then maybe it’s you,” I say carefully, slowly. “Because one of us is.”

“That’s not true—”

“Tell me why you’re here, Adam. What are you doing in an insane asylum if you don’t belong here?”

“I’ve been asking you the same question since I got here.”

“Maybe you ask too many questions.”

I hear his hard exhalation of breath. He laughs a bitter laugh. “We’re practically the only two people who are alive in this place and you want to shut me out, too?”

I close my eyes and focus on breathing. “You can talk to me. Just don’t touch me.”

7 seconds of silence join the conversation. “Maybe I want to touch you.”

There are 15,000 feelings of disbelief hole-punched in my heart. I’m tempted by recklessness, aching aching aching, desperate forever for what I can never have. I turn my back on him but I can’t keep the lies from spilling out of my lips. “Maybe I don’t want you to.”

He makes a harsh sound. “I disgust you that much?”

I spin around, so caught off guard by his words I forget myself. He’s staring at me, his face hard, his jaw set, his fingers flexing by his sides. His eyes are 2 buckets of rainwater: deep, fresh, clear.

Hurt.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” I can’t breathe.

“You can’t just answer a simple question, can you?” He shakes his head and turns to the wall.

My face is cast in a neutral mold, my arms and legs filled with plaster. I feel nothing. I am nothing. I am empty of everything I will never move. I’m staring at a small crack near my shoe. I will stare at it forever.

The blankets fall to the floor. The world fades out of focus, my ears outsource every sound to another dimension. My eyes close, my thoughts drift, my memories kick me in the heart.

I know him.

I’ve tried so hard to stop thinking about him.

I’ve tried so hard to forget his face.

I’ve tried so hard to get those blue blue blue eyes out of my head but I know him I know him I know him it’s been 3 years since I last saw him.

I could never forget Adam.

But he’s already forgotten me.

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