GENRE: YA paranormal
"You tired, Micah?" Mom asks as she steps out of the bathroom.
She navigates slowly through the dim light to sit on my bed. Even her strawberry shampoo can't mask the smell of stale cigarettes in our room.
"Yeah." Sorting and cleaning our apartment has numbed my brain and body. Staying in a cheap hotel while we do it hasn't helped.
She leans forward to give me a hug like she does every night. She's the only person I don't flinch away from. The only one that feels safe for me to touch. I never know what I'll see when I brush against someone or shake their hand. But from Mom I see and feel the same thing. Every time. I see me. She's my one constant in the mass of images and emotions I'm hit with every day.
"At least it's over, right?" She chuckles, leans forward and put her arms around my shoulders.
I suck in a breath, and I swear my heart stops. I see through her eyes, as always, but the picture's all wrong. A man, short cut hair, a non-descript brown with grey at the temples. Warm, kind eyes, a friendly smile on the corners of his mouth. She likes him. A lot.
It's not me.
This can't be happening. Mom's my safe place. Home's my safe place. And now, with one picture, it's gone. It takes every ounce of willpower not to jerk away. My heart is frantic, beating desperately against my ribs.