My Sunshine Away

My Sunshine Away

by M. O. Walsh

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Overview

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"A tantalizing mystery and a tender coming-of-age story...Unputdownable."—Oprah.com

In the summer of 1989, a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom is rocked by a violent crime when fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson—free spirit, track star, and belle of the block—is attacked late one evening near her home. As the dark side of this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia is revealed, the close-knit neighborhood is irreversibly transformed.
 
In My Sunshine Away, M.O. Walsh brilliantly juxtaposes the enchantment of a charmed childhood with the gripping story of a violent crime, unraveling families, and consuming adolescent love. Acutely wise and deeply honest, it is an astonishing and page-turning debut about the meaning of family, the power of memory, and our ability to forgive.
 
Named A Book of the Year by NPR, The Dallas Morning News, Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist

An Entertainment Weekly 'Must List' Pick 

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594887508
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/05/2016
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 131,869
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Milton O’Neal Walsh, Jr.’s stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Epoch, and Best New American Voices, among others. He is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Mississippi and is currently the director of the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans, where he lives and works, happily, with his wife and family.

Read an Excerpt

There were four suspects in the rape of Lindy Simpson, a crime that occurred directly on top of the sidewalk of Piney Creek Road, the same sidewalk our parents had once hopefully carved their initials into, years before, as residents of the first street in the Woodland Hills subdivision to have houses on each lot. It was a crime impossible during the daylight, when we neighborhood kids would have been tearing around in go-karts, coloring chalk figures on our driveways, or chasing snakes down into storm gutters. But, at night the streets of Woodland Hills sat empty and quiet, except for the pleasure of frogs greeting the mosquitoes that rose in squadrons from the swamps behind our properties.

On this particular evening, however, in the dark turn beneath the first busted streetlight in the history of Piney Creek Road, a man, or perhaps a boy, stood holding a long piece of rope. He tied one end of this rope to the broken light pole next to the street and wrapped the other around his own hand. Thinking himself unseen, he then crawled into the azalea bushes beside Old Man Casemore’s house, the rope lagging in shadow behind him like a tail, where he perhaps practiced, once or twice, pulling the rope taut and high across the sidewalk. And then this man, or this boy, knowing the routine of the Simpson girl, waited to hear the rattle of her banana-seated Schwinn coming around the curve.

You should know:

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a hot place.

Even the fall of night offers no comfort. There are no breezes sweeping off the dark servitudes and marshes, no cooling rains.

Instead, the rain that falls here survives only to boil on the pavement, to steam up your glasses, to burden you. So this man, or this boy, was undoubtedly sweating as he crouched in the bushes, undoubtedly eaten alive by insects. They gnash you here. They cover you. And so it is not a mistake to wonder if he might have been dissuaded from this violence had he lived in a more merciful place. It is important, I believe, when you think back about a man or a boy in the bushes, to wonder if maybe one soothing breeze would have calmed him, would have softened his mood, would have changed his mind.

But it did not.

So the act took place in darkness, in near silence, in heat, and Lindy Simpson remembered little other than the sudden appearance of a rope in front of her bicycle, the sharp pull of its braid across her chest. Months later, and after much therapy, she would also recall how the bicycle rode on without her after she fell. She would remember how she never even saw it tip over before a sock was stuffed into her mouth and her face was pushed into the lawn. The crush of weight on her back. The scrape of asphalt against her knees. She would remember these, too. Then a voice in her ear that she did not recognize.

Then a blow to the back of her head.

She was fifteen years old.

This was the summer of 1989 and no arrests were made. Don’t believe what you see on the crime shows today. No single hairs were tweezed out of Old Man Casemore’s lawn. No length of rope was sent off to a lab. No DNA was salvaged off the pebbles of our concrete. And although the people of Woodland Hills answered earnestly every question the police initially asked of them, although they tried their best to be helpful, there was no immediate evidence to speak of.

All four of these primary suspects therefore remained unofficial and uncharged, as the rape had occurred so quickly and without apparent witness that the crime scene itself began to fade the moment Lindy Simpson regained consciousness and pushed her bicycle back home that night, a place only four doors away, to lay it down in its usual spot. It faded even further as she walked through the back door of her house and climbed upstairs to her bathroom, where she showered in water of an unknown temperature.

There are times in my life when I imagine this water scalding.

Other times, frozen.

Regardless, Lindy never came down for dinner.

She was likely thought by her parents to be yapping with friends on the telephone, twirling the cord around her young fingers, until her mother, a woman named Peggy, made her evening rounds with the laundry basket. It was then she saw a pair of underpants in the bathroom, dotted with bright red blood, lying next to a single running shoe. The other shoe, a blue Reebok, was missing.

By this time, her daughter Lindy was curled in her bed and concussed.

A bed that just that morning had been a child’s.

I should tell you now that I was one of the suspects.

Hear me out.

Let me explain.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for My Sunshine Away
 
“Try and restrain yourself from flying through the pages of this wonderful novel. Instead savor this lush Louisiana mystery that takes you back to what life tasted like when you were still somewhat naïve to the ways of the world. Not just Southern, but American in its vivid Baton Rouge colors and scents, treetops and grasses, My Sunshine Away is the story of how the events of our youth profoundly affect us as adults. The last page is as satisfying as the first. A mystery you cannot wait to solve.” —Kathryn Stockett, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Help

"Recalls the best of Pat Conroy: the rich Southern atmosphere, the interplay of darkness and light in adolescence, the combination of brisk narrative suspense with philosophical musings on memory, manhood, and truth.... Celebrate, fiction lovers: The gods of Southern gothic storytelling have inducted a junior member." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Suspenseful, compassionate, and absorbing, Walsh’s word-perfect rendering of the doubts, insecurities, bravado, and idealism of teens deserves to be placed in the hands of readers of Tom Franklin, Hannah Pittard, and Jeffrey Eugenides.” —Booklist (starred review)
 

“I really loved this book. I am in awe, swept up in the quiet beauty of the prose, and in the wisdom and compassion of the narrator. I can't praise it enough. My Sunshine Away is not a thriller; it is not genre fiction; but it's realism at its finest, and it is a page turner—a story made memorable in paragraph after paragraph by the brilliance of its author, and by the scope of the questions he asks as to how we live this life to the fullest as loving and moral beings. It’s about love, obsession, and pain. Such a beautiful book. Such a remarkable book. I can't praise it enough.” —Anne Rice, #1 nationally bestselling author of Prince Lestat 

My Sunshine Away is that rarest find, a page-turner you want to read slowly and a literary novel you can’t look away from. At times funny, at times spine-tinglingly suspenseful, and at times just flat-out wise, this novel is also a meditation on memory, how it can destroy or damn us but redeem us as well. It’s a book to read and reread, one that will only get better with time, like its writer. I’m already excited about M. O. Walsh’s next book, whatever it is.” —Tom Franklin, bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

"Much more than a simple coming-of-age story; it is a rumination on how events in one’s life can appear differently depending on where and when they are experienced and recalled.... Rarely does a new author display the skill to develop a page-turner with such a literary tone. Readers of both popular and literary fiction will get their fixes from this novel." —Library Journal

“From beginning to end, My Sunshine Away is full of wisdom, wit, and wonder.” —Bookpage

“This is literature of the highest order. Although the book snaps with the tautness of a thriller––and Walsh keeps the reader guessing until the end, as the best mystery writers do––My Sunshine Away also asks essential questions, like how much responsibility we have to each other, and whether we can we ever fully reassemble the pieces of broken lives. And while Walsh hints at answers, it’s his willingness to engage such ideas that makes My Sunshine Away an important work of fiction. We need more novelists with the guts and clarity of M. O. Walsh.” ––Matthew Thomas, New York Times–bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves
 
“If you start this novel, you will not put it down. My Sunshine Away is a riveting, suspenseful, page-turning mystery. It is also a wise, insightful, and beautifully written novel. This is an extraordinary debut.” ––Jill McCorkle, New York Times–bestselling author of Life After Life
 
“M.O. Walsh has written one of the best books I've read in a long while. An outstanding examination of the way that the past and the weight of our memories shape us, My Sunshine Away, thanks to Walsh’s verve and total control over the narrative, feels utterly original.” —Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang

“Q: When is it a thrill to feel gutted? A: When you start reading the book you hold in your hands. M. O. Walsh’s My Sunshine Away reminds us that art can be wrenching and a delight, that pain—if examined through wit, intimacy, and wisdom—can be a salve. This novel is great.”––Darin Strauss, internationally bestselling author of Half a Life and Chang and Eng
 

My Sunshine Away begins with a crime. But the novel is so much more than a mystery; it’s half lament, half love letter to youth and to possibility. On every page, we feel complicit, perhaps even guilty. Guilty of what? For ever having been young ourselves. The magic of My Sunshine Away is in M. O. Walsh’s extraordinary ability to make us long for the heartache of youth and its inevitable sins. This is an awe-inspiring debut.” —Hannah Pittard, author of Reunion and The Fates Will Find Their Way 
 
“If I were asked to list the qualities the ideal novel would offer, I’d start by demanding beautiful sentences. I’d want the opening to grab me and I’d want the ending to refuse to let go. I’d ask for characters who consistently surprise by being somehow deeper and less predictable than we could ever have guessed they’d be. I’d want Place to be written with a capital P. I’d want a mystery at the heart of the story, and a mystery or two in every heart. And when I finished reading the book, I’d want to be both wiser and sadder than when I started. M. O. Walsh’s magnificent novel My Sunshine Away afforded me all these pleasures and more. This is one of the best novels I’ve read in ages.” —Steve Yarbrough, author of The Realm of Last Chances
 
 

Matthew Thomas

This is literature of the highest order. Although the book snaps with the tautness of a thriller——and Walsh keeps the reader guessing until the end, as the best mystery writers do——My Sunshine Away also asks essential questions, like how much responsibility we have to each other, and whether we can we ever fully reassemble the pieces of broken lives. And while Walsh hints at answers, it's his willingness to engage such ideas that makes My Sunshine Away an important work of fiction. We need more novelists with the guts and clarity of M. O. Walsh. ——Matthew Thomas, New York Times—bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves

Jill McCorkle

If you start this novel, you will not put it down. My Sunshine Away is a riveting, suspenseful, page-turning mystery. It is also a wise, insightful, and beautifully written novel. This is an extraordinary debut. ——Jill McCorkle, New York Times—bestselling author of Life After Life

Reading Group Guide

My Sunshine Away by M. O. Walsh
Discussion Questions
 
1. The narrator recounts the story out of chronological order. Why did the author choose to tell the story this way? How does this narrative structure allow him to explore the ways that events in our youth shape our lives as adults?
 
2. The book begins with the story of a rape. It also deals with child and animal abuse, as well as death and divorce. Yet the book does not feel bleak. Could My Sunshine Away be described as an optimistic book? If so, how?
 
3. The narrator feels that people have preconceived notions or stereotypes about both Baton Rouge, where he is from, and the South in general. In what ways does this book try to subvert those stereotypes? In what ways does it reinforce them? Is the place where you grew up stereotyped? How do you feel connected to that place? How do you feel separated from it?
 
4. Although this novel is intensely personal, it also touches on moments of national importance, such as the Challenger disaster and the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. How have world events affected you personally? At a time of constant news coverage, is there a difference between local and global?
 
6. At the end of the book, we realize the narrator is telling this story to his unborn son. Were you surprised? Did this discovery change your perception of the book and why he was telling the story? Do you think this “audience” affects the way it is told? Is it more honest, or less so?
 
7. The title of the book is the last line of the Louisiana state song, “You Are My Sunshine.” In what ways does it play into the themes of the book?
 
8. Chapter 28 is devoted entirely to the differences between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. How is this important to understanding the relationship between Lindy and the narrator?
 
9. Look back to the discussion of whiteflies on page 47. These insects reappear several times later in the book. How might they serve as a metaphor for memory in the novel?
 
10. Although the narrator spends years of his life thinking about Lindy Simpson, he comes to the realization that he never really knew her. What mistakes was he making in his attempts to understand her, both before and after the crime?
 
11. When the narrator begins the story of what he discovered in Jacques Landry’s private room, he has to stop himself and recount a good memory first. He says that doing this helps “keep darkness from winning.” Is it cowardly or perhaps dishonest for him to shuffle his memories around in this way, or is it wise? In what ways do you use your own memories to construct the type of person you want to be?
 
12. During one of the narrator’s lowest points, he gets great comfort from his uncle Barry. However, Uncle Barry is far from a typical role model. Why is he such a great help for the narrator? Can people to serve as role models or counselors even when they are deeply flawed?  
 
13. The narrator is never named in the book. Why do you think the author decided to leave him unnamed? How does this affect the reading experience?
 
14. At one point, Julie tells the narrator that it would be up to her if she wanted to share painful moments in her past with him. Should partners share everything with each other, or are some secrets important to keep? Does anyone really know everything about someone else? How do we navigate our own secrets with the people we love?
 
15. At the end of the novel, the narrator tells his son that he wants the two of them to be “good men.” What does that mean to the narrator? Does the novel suggest a way of becoming a good man? Is the idea of being a “good” person wholly subjective, or are there moral touchstones to goodness that we all agree on?
 

Customer Reviews

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My Sunshine Away 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is hard to put down. Authentic and full of emotion.
christalvp More than 1 year ago
When I closed this book after finishing it, I was left with such a good feeling. I love the style of the writing with the teenaged male narrator who tells a tale of an innocent childhood in Baton Rouge which becomes more complicated as a violent incident against a young girl occurs in the neighborhood. It was very interesting to have the narrator tell us his perspective from his childhood viewpoint while giving us his current adult take on all that happened.  This one was not what I expected, but was so much better. I opened the book thinking to read a traditional mystery/suspense, but got that tucked inside a very touching story of this male leaving his childhood behind in a difficult way while trying to find out what kind of man he would become. The book is about family, friends, and the hopes all of us have for ourselves and one another. Having lived near the Baton Rogue for several years, I enjoyed the genuine manner in which the author portrayed the area.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best novel I have read in recent memory, and I read about 100 books a year. I hope Walsh can write.as fast as I can read. Lyrical prose, wonderfully evocative of place and time, with the sure voice of a true Southern storyteller in the the literary traditional sense.
Seth Tucker More than 1 year ago
One of the strangest and wonderful coming of age stories that I have read in years, and one of the best novels I have read in the last ten years.  MO Walsh is  at the top of his game, and the world he spins is vibrant and rich and authentic and comic and lovely and tragic.  This should be at the top of everyone's reading list, and if it doesn't win a major award next year I will eat my hat.
Jan-Housebookreader More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I read it in 2 sittings. Would have read it in one but started too late at night.i really hope this author is hard at work on his next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic Book!  Great for personal reading or book club. I really enjoyed reading this book.  I've seen reviews that focus on the fact that there are some dark and (and for some) uncomfortable scenes. However, i think the book is largely about family and love, and trying as a teenager to figure out how to negotiate these.   Having a full time job and kids I don't often find time to read for personal enjoyment.  And I have many books on my night stand that I have started, but as of yet have finished. However, this one is different.  I felt the story line truly compelling and found it hard to put down.   Though I read this on my own, I also think it would be good for a book club, as I have found myself very much interested in  other peoples takes on it.
Scorn9 More than 1 year ago
My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh is a haunting yet beautiful tale about a tragic childhood. This book has blown me away with how thought provoking it is! M.O. Walsh's beautiful writing style tells the tale of fifteen year old Lindy (in our narrator's point of view) and the horrors that occur in their neighborhood. Add in the setting of Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the late 80s and you've got yourself the perfect coming of age story addressing some really tough issues that we are still seeing today. This is another book that I wish would have been around in my high school years. I think this would have been perfect reading material that addresses the growth and change of a child to an adult, and the big issues in society that are still happening. M.O. Walsh made the story light hearted and fun (at times) in a setting that could have been extremely brutal. As the book moves forward, the effects on the town and Lindy slowly unravel and the mystery of it all falls into place. The ghosts of everyone's past comes to a nice close at the end of the book, so don't worry about cliffhangers! The last few pages of the book are the perfect summary, better than anything I've ever seen before. It's a real shame I don't see this book (or eventually more) by M.O. Walsh on bookshelves at my local bookstore. This book is top tier writing! My Sunshine Away had effects on me similar to 1984, To Kill a MockingBird and Shakespeare's best works. The book tells a story and a narrative, but has grande themes that can be picked apart. On top of that, the book feels nostalgic of what most adults had in their childhood (I can relate to talking on the phone when your parents answer it and hold it for you). The surprise of a safe neighborhood not really being all that safe. Also seeing some of the non-fictitious aspects of our world (like the Challenger and Jeffrey Dahmer) really made this book feel real. The characters also felt like people I would have known in my childhood - nerdy kids, the "weirdos", that one girl everyone loves - they all were relatable. Seeing them change and how they ended up in adulthood was also a nice touch that helped close the story. When I read this book, I thought it was a very soft adult novel - but apparently it's a Young Adult novel! It's a really nice read that Young Adults could handle. It has some tough themes, but nothing graphic. I'm actually even happier that this book should be on a Young Adult shelf, so those readers can get the impact of this story in their environment. Overall, this book is an emotional, yet melancholic ride that will pull at your heartstrings and play with your emotions. It's so well developed, it's hard to believe that this is a debut novel! It feels like an expert in his craft wrote it! I highly recommend this book, and it's a definite must read! I'm sad I didn't pick this book up years ago! What a truly fantastic novel! PS - What a stunning cover! This cover calls out to me, even though it's so simple yet so elegant! What a gem! Five out of five stars!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt like it was all over the place honestly like the main storyline but it was so much overkill getting to the ending
Tracey_L More than 1 year ago
This is a stunning debut novel that I am so very pleased to have been given the opportunity to read. The story is about a brutal crime against a teenage girl, and the boy who not only was infatuated by her, but was one of four suspects in the crime. The boy, forever nameless, serves as the narrator for the story, told in flashback from his adult self. The settings are vivid; I almost felt the sweat running down the back of my neck and found myself craving iced tea, even though it was December in San Francisco and not summer in Louisiana as I was reading. The people were well-developed, and I was left wondering from one page to the next as to who had motive and what people's secrets were. The attention to detail was engaging, and enhanced the story greatly, rather than detract from it, as can sometimes be the case. I'm not often in the position of being held captive by a story, and usually I have an idea how things will turn out. This was not the case with My Sunshine Away. I was surprised even until the last pages. Kudos to Mr. Walsh; he has written a stunning story and I look forward to seeing more from him. This is an honest review given in exchange for an ARC from Penguin's First To Read program.
JudyBookLover More than 1 year ago
Overall I thought this was an interesting story about a boy whose secret crush is raped and how this effected him over the years. The writer Walsh did a really good job, especially about showing the realistic thoughts and feelings of a teenage boy. The narrator is going through family tragedies of his own like the divorce of his parents and trying to figure out why his father left them. He never seems to really understand the terrible thing that happened to his friend and secret crush. Teenage boys can be selfish and clueless and I guess that is the whole point! There is an ongoing mystery too - about who could have been the rapist for this poor girl Lindsay - and there are many suspects in the neighborhood - even our own narrator! He does his share of things that have to make you wonder. So that part of the book was really very interesting. One thing that bothered me - sometimes though the book would go off on tangents about Louisiana and New Orleans or about the boy's past. Some of these really went on a long time and did not seem very important to the story overall. Sometimes these tangents would even come up in the middle of important scenes which I found to be distracting and unncessary. I think authors put things like this in just to make a book longer sometimes. In summary I would have rated the book four stars if it hadn't been so bad about wandering off on tangents.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One man's introspective look at life. Sad, happy and gripping, it will make you think ~*~LEB~*~
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Started the book off with such an uneasy feeling about men in general, couldn't have finished it with a greater respect for a man. Thank you, this book was incredibly well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SFlibres More than 1 year ago
Painfully realistic from a love-lorn teenaged boy's perspective. Spot on dialogue and believable characters. Sometimes mired a tiny bit in the narrator's obsession with his neighbor, but a well crafted novel with a perfect ending that was well worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
Most of the characters in this book are teenagers, characters I can relate to as I am raising two of my own right now.   While the crime against Lindy Simpson is the main story, I felt a connection to the younger boy who is obsessed with Lindy.   There is no name ever given to the young boy, yet I felt like I knew him.   He was truly obsessed with Lindy.  He knew her schedule, what she wore, how she sat, and who did the unthinkable to her.    It was frightening and eye opening at how such innocence can turn into something so dangerous without anyone giving it a second thought.   I enjoyed how the story was told from a male point of view.  This is rare in the books I usually read.  The setting of Baton Rouge, Louisiana was interesting and eye opening when it was described how the city flooded, how the people forced to leave New Orleans invaded it, and how the children were left to play outside and entertain themselves.   I could picture the streets, with the lights on the porches, and the kids playing in the front yard with their bikes.    The flooding made me smile, with the idea of a neighbor driving his boat from house to house to check on his neighbors and give them food.    The words in this book are from childhood memories.   They are shared as a child would share them and in the way a child would perceive what was happening.   There was some jumping between timeframes, but it flowed with the story perfectly.   I enjoyed that the memories were not taken from a child view and turned into an adult view.   The innocence and fun of childhood was shown as was how tough circumstance sometimes appear different to a child than to an adult in the same place.   This is a must read for 2015.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have never been so relieved to reach the end of a book. I am not a quitter, so I continued reading hoping it would get better. It did not. I would not recommend this book. I just kept thinking how glad I am that this damaged boy bears no resemblance to my own sons. Parents, teach your children to be honest above all things. It is not just the sorry message of the book, but the writer's inability to grab and hold my interest as he waded, slogging along to the boring conclusion. Skip this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read half the book, then skipped ahead to the end. The storyline dragged and failed to keep my interest. The main character gave us surface information, but there was no depth or believability.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVE BRANDON BUT HE ALREADY HAS A GIRLFRIEND NAMED KASHMERE
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ren.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amaya lay in her bed, yawning. Her eyelids grew heavy. And she felt a...little...sleepy... ***** Amaya woke to the sound of sputtering engines and police cars. She peeked outside, only to find the stone factory surrounded by cops and...her parents. They looked as mad as ever, and Wes had a wine bottle in his hand, patting it on the palm of his left hand. Amaya cringed. Payton came rushing through the door in a matter of moments. He grabbed Amaya's hand and ran out of the room. "My parents called the police!?" She yelped through breaths. Payton nodded. Banging was heard on the steel door. They ran up the stairs and to the valcony. Payton jumped the railing and landed on the roof of the nearby supermarket. Amaya followed and looked below. Dozens of confused customers were staring at then like they both grew three heads. They made their way across the roof and pounced onto the Toys 'R' Us. They got past the tiny store and climbed the fire escape of the old abandoned apartments. Amaya climbed the rusty metal ladder. Payton attempted to follow, and grabbed the last bar. But then the rusty metal cracked and Payton was sent hurling to the concrete parking lot below. Amaya screamed. She wanted to move, to save Payton, but her legs were glued to the spot in panic. She closed her eyes, expecting blood to splash onto her face from 15 feet below. But no. She opened her eyes a slit. Payton had landed on the cushoned seat of a Lexus convertible. Amaya finally was able to take a breath. She climbed down to the parking lot as Payton climbed out. They grabbed each other's hands and continued running. ***** The place wasn't what you'd expect. The wood floorboards were stained black with something and the check-in desk was practically invisible with all the rubble. A sign read, 'WELCOME TO PLASMA HOTEL, THE MOST LUXERWEIOUS HOTEL IN TOWN!!!' 'LUXURIOUS' Was spelled wrong. Payton ran up the marble stairs to the second floor. He pulled a giant keyring out of his pocket and selected a key labled 'ROOM 1438'. He shoved it into the lock and spun it. He then pulled it out and opened the door. Two double beds were placed side by side, sandwiching a bedside table with a Samsung phone. The marble bathroom was really clean, believe it or not. Amaya sprawled out on the bed as Payton lay besides her. Amaya turned her head. Payton gave her a quick peck on the cheek before running off to find dinner. ***** As Payton snored quietly with Amaya, the window slid open. A silouette of a 13-year old appeared and jumped into the Suite. He glanced at the two others and sighed. He sat on the ground, playing with his phone. ***** "WHO ARE YOU!?!?!?" Asked a surprised Amaya. A boy with jet black hair and a hood looked up. He took off his hood and said,"I'm Emmett Shirly. Nice to meet you." "Why are you here?" Shot back Amaya. "My parents died in a car accident, and I was adopted by a foster family. But they abuse me like crazy, so I ran." Emmett's face darkened. "Same here." Sighed Amaya. Payton nodded. "It's sad how many people in this world treat kids like trash." Emmett said. Amaya agreed. "But we can't change them." ***** Payton read a book (Harry Potter) as Emmett went downstairs to make lunch. It was a regular day. The three had been away from home for weeks, and the cops have had no luck in finding them. Everything was going well. Amaya's red eyes glinted in the glaring sun as she wrote a story. She turned the page. She continued jotting down her ideas. ***** HOW IS IT????