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The Long Road Home

The Long Road Home

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The Long Road Home

4/5 (6 Bewertungen)
70 Seiten
1 Stunde
Jun 24, 2020


Bell and Stuart could hardly be more different, so socially removed from one another they wouldn’t normally ever cross paths — and yet, in the aftermath of a random street crime, they do. Bell is wounded, daring, desperate, and beautiful — and she blazes into Stuart’s life, disrupting his careful structure of self-protection. A night of falling stars and fiddle music isn’t enough to bridge enormous social chasms, however, and efforts to reach out to another are too easily misunderstood. Bell and Stuart’s path to breaking down the barriers between them is not easy, but the struggle only makes their shared triumph that much sweeter in the end.

Jun 24, 2020

Über den Autor

Iris Forester is never happier than when she’s tossed everything aside to follow one of the story threads that cross her path. She shares her home place with eagles, ravens and owls — but also makes time every year to spend in New York City. When she’s not writing, Iris works with paint, clay, and various difficult creatures.

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The Long Road Home - Iris Forester

Chapter One

Bell hunched down on the cement pad by the train tracks and tried to make herself as invisible as possible. She was sweating, and she used the edge of her T-shirt to wipe her forehead and eyes.

From six feet away, Lizard hissed, Lay down! They can still see you!

Clumsy with fear, Bell obeyed, putting her hand under her face so she didn’t have to lay it directly on the gritty surface. Holding their breaths, they listened to the sound of the security officer’s footsteps as he passed within a few yards of their hiding place. Once the officer was at a safe distance, Lizard stood up.

Come on, he told Bell and CJ. We gotta get on. The train’ll be leaving in a couple minutes.

Slinging their heavy backpacks over their shoulders, the three young people hoisted themselves up into the empty boxcar they had scouted out earlier and settled down in the shadowy gloom of its far corner. A few torn hunks of cardboard made for unexpectedly good seating, and they breathed deep sighs of relief. Now there was nothing to do except wait as the train made its way from Los Angeles up to Portland. Bell opened her pack and got out one of her water bottles, sipping it carefully. Carrying enough water for a whole trip was the biggest challenge, and Lizard and CJ had both repeatedly warned her to keep her consumption to a minimum.

The boxcar was a safe one, although Bell was too inexperienced to know how lucky they were to have found it. One section of its roof was open to the sky, with a ladder to climb out in case the train workers closed the door. This extra ventilation also meant that the car wasn’t any hotter than the air outside, and thankfully, its only odor was of rusting metal.

Bell had never hopped a long-distance freight train before. As a teenager, she and a couple friends had tried train-hopping as a lark, taking a few short rides from one station to the next and then jumping out, racing recklessly down the tracks as train-yard police yelled at them. This time, though, it was serious travel, and Bell was not feeling larkish at all.

Bell’s twenty-two years of life had not been easy, and as she stretched out her long legs in the dark boxcar, she wondered if she would ever be able to change that. Growing up in six different foster homes meant that friendships and relationships had always been a minefield, and her extraordinary beauty made her teen years even more treacherous. She loved her hair too much to cut it short, but she kept its shining black waves tightly braided into a bun and firmly hidden under a baseball cap. In the aftermath of the trauma that had sent her life over the edge, Bell had hidden her body inside drab, baggy clothing, but her five-foot, eleven-inch height and high cheekbones still drew attention. She tried to forget the things that had happened to her as a teenager, and the past several years were a hectic blur in her mind. She didn’t know what PTSD was, or that she had it, but for many seasons she had just blankly survived from one day to the next. Despite her deep emotional injuries, however, some rock-bottom sense of self-preservation had prevented her from following the lethal paths that some of her friends had taken. Stealing, panhandling, prostitution, and drug-selling were all in Bell’s skill set, but over the past year she had felt herself genuinely beginning to heal and emerge from her fog. Buoyed by discovering her own returning strength, she had decided that the best way to face life would be as a warrior, and in that spirit, she had moved out of her free lodgings. It was time to begin her new life in a new place.

Watching for the right moment, Bell had scooped up what she considered was her fair share of the cash that her slimy landlord kept in his room, but this theft meant that she absolutely had to leave town — and quickly. Fortunately, her connections among the street people brought her together with Lizard, who said he would help her ride trains to Portland. Bell asked him what he’d charge for this guide service, and he waved away the question.

Me and my boyfriend are going there anyway, he said. You just gotta do what I say. So we all stay safe. Bell didn’t tell him that her eventual plan was to move to Seattle, because in her world you didn’t entirely trust people, but she respected Lizard as much as she did anyone. During the hours they spent scouting trains and waiting to catch the right one, Lizard taught her the basics of self-defense, and he shared with her the snacks he’d effortlessly shoplifted.

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