Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.
He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.
He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.
Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.
Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.
“I don’t need to talk to a counselor,” I say, a little louder than I intend. My head begins to buzz the way it does when I get overexcited. It’s not good for me to get upset.
“Okay,” he says.
I hate this. The buzzing grows louder. I am a living hive of dread. The memories, those images I don’t want, are swarming around inside me, looking for a way, any way, to get out…
“I need to go,” I mumble. “To the biology lab.”
“You ever read that article I sent you? About-“
“Sea quarks,” I manage feebly. “Yeah, thanks for that.”
I know he wants me to stay and talk because that’s what we did last year. We talked. Not about my grief or my anger or my guilt over how my siblings died like martyrs cast against wicked ways. Those are the things I never talk about. No, we talked about matter – most notably quarks, those tiniest possible components of everything. They came in six flavors, you know: up, down, top, bottom, charm, and strange. I’ll admit those talks really helped me, and when I read about the sea quarks, I understood why. They contain particles of matter and antimatter, and where the two touch exists this constant stream of creation and annihilation. Scientists call this place ‘the sea,’ and it’s what pitches inside of me as I hurry away from Mr. Byles, ignoring his furrowed brow, his worried frown.
I am of the sea.
I am of instability.
I am of harsh, choppy waves roiling with all the up-ness, down-ness, top-ness, bottom-ness, contained within my being.
I am of charm and strange.