Fragments of the Lost Page 1

Author: Megan Miranda

Genres: Mystery , Young Adult

I slide the necklace into my pocket, leaving his jeans on the floor—the outline of his ghost. I look over at the pile of flattened boxes leaning against the wall just inside the door, left there by his mother. His baseball cap hangs from the doorknob, wedged between the boxes and the open door. The room is untouched otherwise, frozen at the exact moment Caleb last left the room.

I can picture it so clearly, see it happening as if I were in this room that afternoon, beside him. The rain pelting the single window, the whir of the ceiling fan overhead. He throws his clothes on the floor as he changes. He must’ve been in a rush, because the clothes are just lying here, and he was usually pretty good about getting his laundry the three steps from his bed to the hamper in his closet. And then: he leaves. He braces his hands against the narrow walls on the sides of the stairs as he catapults himself two, three steps down at a time.

There was this feeling, with Caleb, that he was always late for something.

I imagine this room would’ve stayed like this forever—the door shut, everything frozen in time, his mother sealing off the entrance, preventing anyone from touching it. Except they’re leaving. Leaving this town, leaving it all behind. It’s been one month since the memorial service, one and a half months since the flood, nearly two months since we broke up.

But as I stand in his room, all that time disappears, and I have to remind myself he’s not about to walk in and ask what I’m doing here. I swing the door slightly closed to prop open the first box, and his broken-in baseball cap sways faintly side to side. It’s solid blue with a white swoosh symbol, the brim arched, the edges worn and off-color, bleached from the summers of salt and sun.

And suddenly I can see him turning his face to me on the beach, as he did that first time, the summer before last.

Hailey and I sitting on our towels, side by side, sipping the last of our cold sodas from the cooler, all the ice melted, the afternoon sun baking my exposed skin. Sophie Bartow’s shadow falling over Hailey—they’d been in some class together the year before, but I didn’t know her well—staking out a spot beside her, calling back to someone over her shoulder.

I saw Max first, who I’d heard had started seeing Sophie earlier that summer. He was weaving around towels with Caleb beside him, midconversation, when Max looked up to where Sophie waited, caught my eye, and waved. I waved back.

Caleb tilted his head to the side, said something to Max. To hear Caleb tell it, it was the first time he saw me. He asked Max who I was. And Max said, “Her? That’s Jessa Whitworth. Julian’s sister.” I’d known Max for years, a permanent fixture from the years of Julian’s Little League teams. He knew me as the younger sister of their star player, scorekeeper, stat recorder, occasional Gatorade provider, until I was old enough to grow sick of it all.

“Hey, Jessa,” Max said as he took up his spot beside Sophie. But Caleb stopped in front of me, his shadow blocking the heat of the sun for a moment.

“Hi, I’m Caleb,” he said.

I knew who Caleb was, knew vaguely in the way that you know most people in your year and above, in the way that hearing the stories and rumors about them made you feel like you already knew them. And how the years below kind of faded into the background—like I did for Caleb.

He sat beside me on my beach towel, like he’d known me forever, and took a sip of my soda. I was kind of horrified and said, “I’m not that kind of girl, you know.”

Which made him laugh. “We need to be friends first, don’t we?” he said.

I nodded.

He leaned close and whispered, “I can’t stand Max’s new girlfriend.”

I pulled back, shaken. “What are you doing?”

“I just told you something I haven’t even told my best friend. And I’m trusting you not to tell. Friends, right?”

I rolled my eyes. “You really, really want my soda, don’t you?”

“Oh God, you have no idea. Please. I’m dying here.”

I squinted against the glare. “I’ll trade you for some sunscreen. My nose is burning. I can feel it.”

“Not a fan of the sun?” he asked.

“On the contrary. I love the sun. But in a cruel twist of fate, the sun and I can’t be in contact for more than thirty minutes at a time without SPF 50. And I’m all out.”

He laughed, and the sound caught me by surprise. He took the hat from his head, lowered it over my own, readjusted the brim, and tapped it once, as I tucked my shoulder-length hair behind my ears. He reached his fingers for a wisp of blond hair that blew across my face, brushing it aside.

“Better?” he asked.

I peered up at him from under the brim, his hair moving with the breeze, the side of his mouth turned up in a grin as he watched me back. Caleb looked like he and the sun were made for each other. His light brown hair streaked nearly blond in sections, his tan golden.

I took a long sip before handing the soda to him, and there it was: we were friends. Our circles blending together—Hailey to Sophie, Sophie to Max, Max to Caleb. A month of hanging out that summer before we got together, but he had me right then. He had me with his ease, hooked me with the secret.