Kindred Spirits Read online





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  Contents

  MONDAY 14 DECEMBER 2015

  TUESDAY 15 DECEMBER 2015

  WEDNESDAY 16 DECEMBER 2015

  THURSDAY 17 DECEMBER 2015

  FRIDAY 18 DECEMBER 2015

  BEAUTIFUL BROKEN THINGS

  Before

  1

  2

  MONDAY

  14 DECEMBER 2015

  There were already two people sitting outside the theater when Elena got there, so she wouldn’t be first in line. But that was OK. She was still here—she was still doing this.

  She grabbed her sleeping bag, and the backpack she’d stocked with books and food and anti-bacterial wipes, and got out of the car as quickly as possible; it looked like her mom might make one last attempt to talk Elena out of this.

  She rolled down her window to frown at Elena directly. “I don’t see a Portaloo.”

  Elena had said there would be a Portaloo. “I’ll figure it out,” Elena said quietly. “These guys are figuring it out.”

  “They’re men,” her mom said. “They can pee anywhere.”

  “I’ll hold it,” Elena said.

  “For four days?”

  “Mom,” Elena said. And what she meant was: We’ve been through this. We’ve talked about it for weeks and weeks. I know you don’t approve. But I’m still doing it.

  Elena dropped her gear on the sidewalk, behind a tall white boy who was second in line. “OK,” she said cheerfully to her mom. “I’ve got this. See you Thursday!”

  Her mom was still frowning. “See you after lunch,” she said, then rolled up her window and drove away.

  Elena turned back to the line, smiling her best first-day-of-school smile. The guy next to her—he looked like he was probably about her age, seventeen or eighteen—didn’t look up. First in line was a big white guy with a blond beard. He looked old enough to be one of Elena’s teachers, and he was sitting in a fold-out camping chair with his feet propped up on a giant cooler. “Hey!” he said happily. “Welcome to Star Wars, man! Welcome to the line!”

  This, she quickly learned, was Troy. He’d been in line since Thursday morning. “I wanted to invest at least a week in this, you know? I really wanted to gather my focus.”

  The younger guy, Gabe, had got in line Thursday night.

  “There was a couple who hung out with us Saturday for a few hours,” Troy said, “but one of them forgot her sunglasses, so they went home. Weak!”

  Elena hadn’t brought any sunglasses. She squinted into the sun.

  “I’m guessing this is your first line,” Troy said.

  “How can you tell?” she asked.

  “I can tell,” he said, chuckling. “I can always tell. It’s Gabe’s first line, too.”

  “We were eight when the last Star Wars movie came out,” Gabe said, not looking up from his book.

  “Revenge of the Sith!” Troy said. “That wasn’t much of a line anyway. It was no Empire.”

  “Nothing is,” Elena said.

  Troy’s face got somber. “Hear, hear, Elena. Hear, hear.”

  All right, so . . . she’d expected there to be more people here.

  The Facebook group she’d found—Camp Star Wars: Omaha!!!—had eighty-five members, not including Elena, who was more of a lurker than a joiner. This was definitely the right theater; the Facebook posts had been very clear. (Maybe it was Troy who posted them.)

  Elena had planned to continue her more-lurker-than-joiner strategy in the line. She thought she’d show up and then sort of disappear into the crowd until she got her sea legs. Her line legs. It was a pretty good strategy for most social situations: show up, fall back, let somebody else break the ice and take the spotlight. Somebody else always would. Extroverts were nothing if not dependable.

  But even an expert mid-trovert like Elena couldn’t lie low in a crowd of three. (Though this Gabe kid seemed to be trying.) Elena was going to be here for four days. She was going to have to talk to these people, at least until someone else showed up.

  “Cold enough for you?” Troy asked.

  “Actually I think I might be little overdressed,” Elena said.

  She was wearing three layers on the bottom and four on top, and she had a big puffy coat if she needed it. If the temperature dropped dangerously low—which would be inevitable during a normal Omaha December—she’d have to go home. But the forecast was pretty mild. (Thanks, global warming?)

  “What were they thinking when they scheduled this movie for December?” Troy said. “They weren’t thinking of us, I can tell you. May,” he said, shaking his head. “May is when you release a Star Wars movie. If this movie were a May movie, the line would already be around the block.”

  “Lucky for us, I guess,” Elena said. “We get to be first.”

  “Oh, I’d be first no matter what,” Troy said. “I am here for it, you know?” He cupped his hands around his lips and shouted, “I’m here for it!”

  Me, too, Elena thought.

  Elena couldn’t remember the first time she saw a Star Wars movie . . . in the same way she couldn’t remember the first time she saw her parents. Star Wars had just always been there. There was a stuffed Chewbacca in her crib.

  The original trilogy were her dad’s favorite movies—he practically knew them by heart—so when Elena was little, like four or five, she’d say they were her favorite movies, too. Because she wanted to be just like him.

  And then, as she got older, the movies started to actually sink in. Like, they went from something Elena could recite to something she could feel. She made them her own. And then she’d kept making them her own. However Elena changed or grew, Star Wars seemed to be there for her in a new way.

  When she’d found out that there were going to be sequels—real sequels, Han and Leia and Luke sequels—she’d flipped out. That’s when she’d decided to get in line.

  She didn’t want to miss this moment. Not just this moment in the world, but this moment in her life.

  If you broke Elena’s heart, Star Wars would spill out. This was a holy day for her—it was a cosmic event. This was her planets lining up. (Tatooine, Coruscant, Hoth.)

  And Elena was going to be here for it.

  Her left foot was asleep.

  She kept kicking the sidewalk, then stood up to bounce.

  “Is your leg asleep again?” Troy said. “I’m worried about your circulation.”

  “It’s fine,” Elena said, stamping her foot.

  She’d only been sitting for two hours, but she was so bored she could hardly stand it. She could literally hardly stand; even her blood vessels were bored.

  She’d brought lots of books. (She’d planned to read Star Wars books whenever she had a quiet moment in line.) (Which was every moment so far.) But the wind