TITLE: Of Ice and Ashes
GENRE: YA Fantasy
after a toxic explosion disfigures hundreds of survivors, a town leader
declares they are diseased and must all be purged. Self-conscious,
seventeen-year-old Wren knows she’s the only truly dangerous survivor,
and must brave brutal guards and the malicious leader herself to find
the others—or she’ll burn with them.
Three layers of hand-knit sweaters and my gloves protected my skin. I tweaked the leather over my wrists, ensuring that no portion of flesh was exposed.
“You’re too cautious,” Jolie said. Her soft, clumsy hand pinned my mother’s old jade brooch to my outermost sweater. “Everyone knows what will happen if they touch you.”
“Accidents happen,” I said. Actually, an accident hadn’t happened in years thanks to my layering, but I didn’t dare risk it.
I saw Jolie’s lips purse in the silver-framed mirror by my bed. Ten years of nonstop caring for me had sprouted premature lines around her eyes. Otherwise, her face was smooth and soft, particularly round at the apple of her cheeks. Sometimes I wondered if she could have been beautiful without me as her only companion. Her burden.
My lips tugged down as I lost myself in that thought; Jolie’s pout transformed into the easy, sweet smile she always put on to cheer me up. She radiated hopefulness through every pore of that bustling body, regardless of her Scar.
I averted my gaze from hers, silently ashamed that I could never follow her lead.
Her fingers prodded against the back of my neck, adjusting the sweaters. A slight shiver always ran up my spine at these moments, probably my body’s warning against human proximity. Then I’d almost imagine warmth rushing beneath my skin, like it would if a normal person touched me. But I could barely remember what warmth felt like.
Neither Jolie nor I had felt temperature for ten years.