Title: Where the Waves Go
Entry Nickname: These Little Earthquakes
Word Count: 64K
Genre: YA Contemporary
Seventeen-year-old Charlie Elliott has always run away from life. She drinks to escape her depression, fools around with guys to ease her loneliness, and hangs out in cemeteries to avoid the living. After she’s dumped by the first boy she ever loved, Charlie’s drinking spirals out of control. Her mother kicks her out of the house, so Charlie leaves her hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the city of her dreams: Los Angeles.
Charlie is ready for a fresh start—the only problem is she has no money and no plan. Unwilling to go back to the place where everyone knows her past, Charlie sleeps in a lifeguard tower on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, sharing the space with a stray cat and a schizophrenic homeless man. Life on the streets is harder than anything she’s faced before, and she turns to drinking once again to numb her pain.
Fortunately, Charlie meets Les, an awkward 16-year-old gamer. Charlie crashes with Les when she gets sick, and they quickly develop feelings for each other. But without a job or place to live, Charlie doesn’t have long to decide whether she should go back to Ann Arbor and face her addiction or stay in L.A. where she has nothing…except for Les.
The familiar sting slides down my throat as I take a sip of whiskey. It’s sharp and hollow at the same time. I don’t wince when I feel it, not anymore. Instead, I find it soothing, knowing the relief that the sting will ultimately bring me.
The music is loud, some rap song I’ve never heard before. Stacey Harrington stands right in front of me but might as well be a thousand miles away. She’s saying something about the new exhibit at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, trying to sound intelligent and cultured. Normally, I would force a smile and tell her about the time I went to the Louvre in Paris. I’d talk about how tiny the Mona Lisa is in real life and pretend to be sophisticated and discerning, despite the fact that Paris is the only foreign city I’ve ever been to and it was back when I was ten.
But I don’t feel like playing that game. I haven’t felt like it in a while.
Stacey’s blonde hair is up in the highest ponytail imaginable, and over the top of her head, I see someone step through the front door. Suddenly, I don’t hear the music anymore. I don’t see Stacey, or smell the scent of booze and mildew, or feel the plastic cup gripped in my hand. Everything around me halts to a stop.
His dark brown eyes scan the room like he’s looking for someone, the way he used to look for me.