Character Interview with Emily Haven
She glides almost effortlessly toward the dasher boards. The arena is totally silent, save for the scrape of her skates on the ice. That sound reverberates hollowly from the rafters far above, the baleful hiss of a snake.
It isn’t real, of course. She knows that now—she knows it—but it is so hard to remember that when these visions seem to capture every nuance of the world around her. She can hear her heart thudding in her ears; she can feel the cool air that swirls around her as she picks up speed.
And then, she sees him.
He stands on the other side of the glass, every inch the consummate nerd. He’s wearing a t-shirt with the emblem of some superhero Emily doesn’t recognize on it. His jeans are faded and just a little too big for him, and, dear God, is that black electricians tape that is holding his glasses together?
It is; of course it is. She remembers him. He’s the boy who always covered the games for the school paper.
“Emily,” he says perfunctorily, and he smacks his gum between his teeth. “I’ve got some questions for you.”
She stops skating, staring at him through the glass. She wishes she could remember his name and feels a mixture of guilt and embarrassment as she realizes she cannot. He’d always been sort of an outsider at Lindsey High, the way she was now.
“Are you here for the paper?”
“Maybe yes, maybe no,” he sing-songs, a small, tight smile curving his lips but not touching his eyes. “But, as I said, I do have some questions for you.”
“What do you want to know?” she asks, a prickle of unease threading its way through her.
He pulls out a pen from somewhere and holds it expectantly over his notepad. He clears his throat, glancing down at the blank page before him, then back up at Emily. There are fingerprints on his glasses, very visible beneath the harsh lights of the arena, but they don't look like real lenses; they look as if they've been expertly carved out of clear crystal.
Maddy did that, she thinks, but it is a fleeting thought. She doesn't know if that's true or not. She doesn't know.
“What’s it like,” he asks slowly, “discovering that there’s a whole other world out there in the universe? I mean, it wasn’t something you were expecting, was it?”
Emily laughs. This is so surreal. The visions have never steered her wrong, though, and so she decides to go with it, come what may.
“No,” she says. “I wasn’t expecting to find another world. I was just trying to—“
But she breaks off, unable to give voice to the events of that terrible night. She doesn’t want to think about that; the pain is still too fresh. It may always be too fresh.
“Would you come back? Surely you don’t want to spend the rest of your life running around some alien world with people and customs you don’t understand. Surely you have friends to come back to here.”
“I don’t know,” she says, though she’s not entirely sure which part of that question she is answering. She thinks of Celine; she sees Michael’s face and hears Corbbmacc’s voice. These are her friends now, and the world in which she finds herself feels more real than the one she’s left behind.
“Your team needs you, you know? Casey needs you. She's unravelling without you. Why are you doing this?” His voice is rising, becoming belligerent, and his words tear at her heart, reawakening all the guilt and uncertainty she thought she’d already overcome—already left behind, back in that other life.
She turns from him and begins to skate away.
“You can’t run from this, Emily!”
But she can, and she does. She keeps skating, her feet moving faster on the ice.
She thinks on all that has happened to her since that last terrible night in Minneapolis. For the first time, she is beginning to believe that her life could be more than simply hiding from the demons that torment her. She has friends with whom she shares a bond that runs deeper than the one she’d had with her teammates—well, except for Casey. More, she has a purpose—a goal—that is more than simply surviving another day.
Abruptly, she executes a neat spin on her skates and stares back at the boy. He’s still standing there beside the glass, his pen and notepad in hand, and a look of disbelief written across his splotchy face.
“You want something to write about?” she asks, and when he doesn’t respond, she goes on. “Tell your readers I say thank you. Thanks for all the times they stood and cheered me on when I scored a goal for them. They were the best part of my life. But that’s all over now, and it's time for me to walk another path.”
She nods to the boy, turns, and skates back into the cloudy, white mists.