The first of two extracts from ‘For Now’, the debut novel by Harriet Selina.
Alice: How long is forever?
White Rabbit: Sometimes just one second.
August 1st 2000:
The last week Gabe had taken to turning up early on Edie’s porch with two large iced coffees and a bag of hot waffles from Bennies.
He was the kind of boy who believed he could do anything and made you feel the same way. He had all these dreams and got in a frenzy talking about them, scared they might escape him. He’d been like that for as long as she could remember.
That morning she drank her coffee and watched his hands jerk across the paling sky as the stars folded in. He told her all the things they were going to do and the places they were going to see once they left Alderhaven. He had big plans for the both of them. Nothing ever seemed to worry Gabe. Maybe it was all the time he spent with Nick, who got a kick outta losing himself in the things most people stressed over.
‘Are you afraid of anything Gabe Winter?’
He grinned like it was the craziest thing she’d ever asked him.
‘Yes Eeds’ he tugged her hair, ‘time.’
She stretched her legs out across the porch.
Time’s the most insidious thing of all. A minute can last forever and a year can pass in a breath – it’s what gives everything meaning, you don’t wanna fuck that thing up.’
With his free hand he began rubbing patterns across her wrist, ‘people go on about not having to rush because we’re young. I think that’s bullshit. I want to see and do everything while I can – the world won’t sit around and wait for us. Time won’t stop so we can kick back and think about what it is we want.’
He brushed his wild hair out his eyes.
‘And you should be with people that give you forever in a moment – the people who stretch time to the point it feels like it’s gunna break. You do that for me Edie. When I’m with you, I feel like I’m beating time.’
Her jeans had torn on the knee and he traced his finger across the skin there. She wondered how much time two people that give each other forever in a moment could give each other in an entire life time.
She thought of Rosie, and felt a stab of guilt. She didn’t want to think about her now, or what any of this meant. She just wanted to be a girl, having coffee with a boy she’d liked forever.
‘Come here’ he said, as if he’d read her mind.
She moved to sit between his knees and he pressed his lips to her jaw.
‘I’m thinking the Mendip Hills first’ he murmured, ‘I wanna see where Lennon wrote love me do.’ He started tapping his foot and singing, ‘love, love me do’ and she laughed, ‘you know I love you I’ll always be true so please, love me do whoa, love me do.’
He carried on singing as the world started waking up, ‘someone to love, somebody new someone to love someone like you.’