Beautiful Redemption
Author:Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl





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For our fathers, Robert Marin and Burton Stohl, who taught us to believe we could do anything, and our husbands, Alex Garcia and Lewis Peterson, who made us do the one thing we never thought we could.






Death is the beginning of Immortality.











Beginning Again



Other people had flying dreams. I had falling nightmares. I couldn’t talk about it, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it either.


About him.


Ethan falling.


Ethan’s shoe dropping to the ground, seconds before.


It must have come off when he fell.


I wondered if he knew.


If he’d known.


I saw that muddy black sneaker dropping from the top of the water tower every time I closed my eyes. Sometimes I hoped it was a dream. I hoped I’d wake up, and he’d be waiting out in the driveway, in front of Ravenwood, to take me to school.


Wake up, sleepyhead. I’m almost there. That’s what he would’ve Kelted.


I’d hear Link’s bad music coming through the open window, before I even saw Ethan behind the wheel.


That’s how I imagined it.


I’d had nightmares about him a thousand times before. Before I knew him, or at least knew he was going to be Ethan. But this wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen in any nightmare.


It shouldn’t have happened. It wasn’t how his life was supposed to be. And it couldn’t be how my life was supposed to be.


That muddy black sneaker wasn’t supposed to drop.


Life without Ethan was something worse than a nightmare.


It was real.


So real that I refused to believe it.




February 2nd


Nightmares end.


That’s how you know they’re nightmares. This—Ethan—everything—it isn’t ending, has no sign of ending.


I felt—I feel—like I’m stuck.


Like it’s my life that shattered when he—when everything else ended.


It broke into a thousand tiny pieces.


When he hit the ground.






I couldn’t stand to look at my journal anymore. I couldn’t write poetry; it hurt to even read it.


It was all too true.


The most important person in my life died jumping off the Summerville water tower. I knew why he did it. Knowing why didn’t make me feel any better.


Knowing he did it for me only made me feel worse.


Sometimes I didn’t think the world was worth it.




Sometimes I didn’t think I was worth it either.


Ethan thought he was doing the right thing. He knew it was crazy. And he didn’t want to go, but he had to anyway.


Ethan was like that.


Even if he was dead.


He saved the world, but he shattered mine.


What now?





















A blur of blue sky over my head.






Just like the sky in real life, only a little more blue and a little less sun in my eyes.


I guess the sky in real life isn’t actually perfect. Maybe that’s what makes it so perfect.


Made it.


I squeezed my eyes shut again.


I was stalling.


I wasn’t sure I was ready to see whatever was out there to see. Of course the sky looked better—Heaven being what it was and all.


Not to assume that’s where I was. I’d been a decent guy, as far as I could tell. But I had seen enough to know that everything I thought about everything had pretty much been wrong so far.


I had an open mind, at least by Gatlin’s standards. I mean, I’d heard all the theories. I had sat through more than my share of Sunday school classes. And after my mom’s accident, Marian told me about a Buddhism class she took at Duke taught by a guy named Buddha Bob, who said paradise was a teardrop inside a teardrop inside a teardrop, or something like that. The year before that, my mom tried to get me to read Dante’s Inferno, which Link told me was about an office building that caught fire, but actually turned out to be about a guy’s voyage into the nine circles of Hell. I only remember the part my mom told me about monsters or devils trapped in a pit of ice. I think it was the ninth circle of Hell, but there were so many circles down there that after a while they all sort of ran together.


After what I’d learned about underworlds and otherworlds and sideways worlds, and whatever else came in the whole triple-layer cake of universes that was the Caster world, that first glimpse of blue sky was fine by me. I was relieved to see there was something that looked like a cheesy Hallmark card waiting for me. I wasn’t expecting pearly gates or naked cherub babies. But the blue sky, that was a nice touch.


I opened my eyes again. Still blue.