- Author: Laura Walter
Book online «Body of Stars Laura Walter (chrome ebook reader .txt) 📖». Author Laura Walter
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Copyright © 2021 by Laura Maylene Walter
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Illustrations by Alexis Seabrook
Interior Art: paper background by MM_photos/Shutterstock
library of congress cataloging-in-publication data
has been applied for.
ISBN 9780593183052 (hardcover)
ISBN 9780593183069 (ebook)
ISBN 9780593185117 (export edition)
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover design by Christopher Lin and Kaitlin Kall
Silhouette by Hibrida13/Getty
Trees by Lysuna/Getty
Night Sky by Tinker Street/Gallery Stock
Star chart courtesy of NASA
For Huda and Jennifer
Part I: Possibility
Part II: Changeling
Part III: Awake
Part IV: Reclamation
About the Author
Mapping the Future: An Interpretive Guide to Women and Girls
Universal Marking Locations, Front View
1. Mental Acuity
4. Family, Nuclear
5. Family, Extended
6. Fitness and Sport
8. Matters of the Heart
9. Transition and Change
12. Method and Order
From the time of my birth my brother Miles read me like a map, tracing my patterns of freckles and birthmarks to see my future and to learn something of his own. In those early years, my body was as much his as it was mine. To share meant letting him lift the back of my tank top or sweater so he could search my skin for a hint of what was to come. I never complained because I believed we were the same, that the predictions marked on my body were part of him, too. We were partners working in a discipline that required practice. He’d approach me at the breakfast table or in the upstairs hallway and ask if he could examine me again, as if my markings might have shifted—a phenomenon we both knew wasn’t possible. At least not yet.
When I was too old for Miles to see me shirtless, he studied my arms, focusing on the constellation of moles near my left elbow. “You’re lucky,” he told me. “You know what will happen.”
It was true. I did, as a girl, have this blueprint of my life imprinted on my skin. At sleepovers my friends and I stripped to our underwear to read our own futures. We lingered over our lower backs, the place for love and romance. “You’ll fall in love more than once,” Marie told Cassandra, and Cassandra in turn studied Marie’s back and said, with wonder, “You’ll live with a woman,” which none of us at that age understood. All we knew was that our lives were speckled in advance on our skin, as it had been for our mothers, as it was for our sisters, while our brothers and fathers were left in the dark.
Over the years Miles memorized me, every inch, and documented my marks in his notebook. That notebook was thick, with unlined pages and a pale blue cover. Sometimes I’d sneak into his room and flip through it, the little dots of ink pressed so hard into the pages they made a series of bumps, like a book for the blind. I was nearly sixteen, and the childhood markings my brother recorded would soon be outdated when I matured to my adult markings. Then, I knew, he’d want to study the revised map my body had produced.
That summer and early autumn leading up to my sixteenth birthday was a time of uncertainty, of risk and wonder. All around me, other girls were entering puberty, and before long I joined them. My hips widened, and I grew taller and gained some weight. I understood these changes extended beyond my physical body. Soon, everything would change—my predictions, my expectations, my future. My entire life.
* * *
We kept our household copy of Mapping the Future: An Interpretive Guide to Women and Girls—an ancient, leather-bound edition that had been in our family for generations—on the living room mantel, but Miles often claimed it for himself. My brother’s interest in interpretation seemed to me another one of his quirks, like how he was left-handed or disliked chocolate. Interpretation was a female art, and for Miles to spend hours studying patterns and predictions seemed a bewildering choice. His love of interpretation was an obsession, a wildness, a force swelling beyond his control. Watching Miles cultivate a skill he was not meant to have, not meant to love in the first place, was a lesson all on its own.
We spent so much time together then. In August, a heat wave drove us into our basement, that shadowy space with the dirt floor and beams furred with cobwebs. We slipped past stacks of boxes to a tight spot under the kitchen where we could hear snatches of our mother’s disembodied voice from above. When we were younger, Miles and I would hide there to eavesdrop on our parents, but on this occasion we were motivated by little more than heat and boredom. We sat on the floor and leaned against the concrete walls, letting the coolness sink into our skin. Much later, I’d recall that afternoon as a dark point in the evolution of our relationship, the start of a chasm yawning open between us. But at the time, we were merely trying to fill a few empty hours.
“Let’s play Did You Know,” I suggested. The game