Home > Everything, Everything(12)

Everything, Everything(12)
Author: Nicola Yoon

“Oh my God, you’re scared of it!”

“We haven’t even gotten to great white sharks or saltwater crocodiles or Indonesian needlefish or—”

“OK, OK,” I say, laughing and holding up my hands for him to stop.

“It’s no joke,” he says with mock seriousness. “The ocean will kill you.” He winks at me. “It turns out that Mother Nature is a lousy mom.”

I’m too busy laughing to say anything.

“So, what else do you want to know?”

“After that? Nothing!”

“Come on. I’m a fount of knowledge.”

“OK, do one of your crazy tricks for me.”

He’s on his feet in a blink and begins assessing the room critically. “There’s not enough room. Let’s go out—” He stops himself midsentence. “Crap, Maddy, I’m sorry.”

“Stop,” I say. I stand up and hold a hand out. “Do not feel sorry for me.” I say this harshly, but it’s too important a point. I couldn’t stand pity coming from him.

He flicks his rubber band, nods once, and lets it go. “I can do a one-armed handstand.”

He steps away from the wall and simply falls forward until he’s upside down on his hands. It’s such a graceful and effortless movement that I’m momentarily filled with envy. What’s it like to have such complete confidence in your body and what it will do?

“That’s amazing,” I whisper.

“We’re not in church,” he whisper-shouts back, voice slightly strained from being upside down.

“I don’t know,” I say. “It feels like I should be quiet.”

He doesn’t answer. Instead, he closes his eyes, slowly removes his left hand from the floor, and holds it out to the side. He’s almost perfectly still. The quiet bubbling of the pond and his slightly heavier breathing are the only sounds in the room. His T-shirt falls up and I can see the hard muscles of his stomach. The skin is the same warm, golden tan. I pull my eyes away.

“OK,” I say, “you can stop now.”

He’s upright again before I can blink.

“What else can you do?”

He rubs his hands together and grins back at me.

One backflip later he sits back down against the wall and closes his eyes.

“So, why outer space first?” he asks.

I shrug. “I want to see the world, I guess.”

“Not what most people mean by that,” he says, smiling.

I nod and close my eyes as well. “Do you ever feel—” I begin, but then the door opens and Carla bustles in to rush him out.

“You didn’t touch, right?” she asks, arms akimbo.

We both open our eyes and stare at each other. All at once I’m hyperaware of his body and mine.

“There was no touching,” Olly confirms, his eyes never leaving my face. Something in his tone makes me blush hard, and heat travels a slow wave across my face and chest.

Spontaneous combustion is a real thing. I’m certain of it.



Before Carla arrives the next morning I spend exactly thirteen minutes in bed convinced that I am getting sick. It takes her exactly six minutes to un-convince me. She takes my temperature, blood pressure, heart and pulse rates before declaring that I am simply lovesick.

“Classic symptoms,” she says.

“I’m not in love. I can’t be in love.”

“And why not?”

“What would be the point?” I say, throwing my hands up. “Me in love would be like being a food critic with no taste buds. It would be like being a color-blind painter. It would be like—”

“Like skinny-dipping by yourself.”

I have to laugh at that one. “Exactly,” I say. “Pointless.”

“Not pointless,” she says, and looks at me seriously. “Just because you can’t experience everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experience anything. Besides, doomed love is a part of life.”

“I’m not in love,” I say again.

“And you’re not sick,” she retorts. “So there’s nothing to worry about.”

For the rest of the morning I’m too distracted to read or do homework. Despite Carla’s reassurances that I’m not getting sick, I find myself paying too close attention to my body and how it feels. Are my fingertips tingling? Do they usually do that? Why can’t I seem to catch my breath? How many somersaults can a stomach do before becoming irreparably knotted? I ask Carla to do an extra check of my vitals, and the results are all normal.

By the afternoon I acknowledge in my head that Carla might be onto something. I might not be in love, but I’m in like. I’m in serious like. I wander the house aimlessly, seeing Olly everywhere. I see him in my kitchen making stacks of toast for dinner. I see him in my living room suffering though Pride and Prejudice with me. I see him in my bedroom, his black-clad body asleep on my white couch.

And it’s not just Olly that I see. I keep picturing myself floating high above earth. From the edge of space I can see the whole world all at once. My eyes don’t have to stop at a wall or at a door. I can see the beginning and the end of time. I can see infinity from there.

For the first time in a long time, I want more than I have.


And it’s the wanting that pulls me back down to earth hard. The wanting scares me. It’s like a weed that spreads slowly, just beneath your notice. Before you know it, it’s pitted your surfaces and darkened your windows.

I send Olly a single e-mail. I’m really busy this weekend, I say. I need to get some sleep, I say. I need to concentrate, I say. I shut down my computer, unplug it, and bury it under a stack of books. Carla raises a single questioning eyebrow at me. I lower two nonanswering eyebrows back at her.

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