Home > Earthbound (Earthbound #1)

Earthbound (Earthbound #1)
Aprilynne Pike


I remember the plane going down.

Not the crash exactly, but the moments before—and while it must have been only moments, when I look back, it takes much longer.

I was sitting with my forehead pressed against the tiny window, looking through the cloudless air at farms and settlements passing below me, when the engine exploded, rocking the plane into a crazy tilt that tossed me back and forth in my seat. The actual blast was surprisingly quiet—muffled by the insulated fuselage, I imagine—but the billowing clouds of coal-black smoke pouring off the wing were impossible to miss.

Every nerve in my body clanged, but my eyes stayed riveted to the roiling smoke that streamed back from the engine just feet from my window. My aching fingers clung to the armrests to hold myself steady as the plane dipped forward, then plunged, the momentum forcing me against my seat.

The pop and hiss of hundreds of oxygen masks, springing from the ceiling like venomous snakes, startled my attention away from the smoking wing. Reflexes honed by dozens of droning safety speeches sent hands darting out to grab the oxygen masks, the adults securing their own masks before assisting others.

But I didn’t bother with mine.

Not even when my mother pushed it at me, her eyes dancing with terror as she gripped my father’s arm so tightly I knew her fingernails must be drawing blood.

It was the flight attendant who made me understand. Two of them were standing in the aisle, trying to get everyone’s attention, demonstrating the crash position—like that was going to help. But I focused on the third one. He wasn’t attempting to buckle up or help the passengers; he just stood, his body strangely still amid the chaos, looking out the window, two tears rolling down his cheeks.

That’s when I knew we were all about to die.

And in that moment, my fear melted away and I felt completely at peace. No life flashing before my eyes or sudden aching regrets. Just an overwhelming peace.

I relaxed, stopped struggling, and watched out the window as the ground rushed up to swallow me.

I stare at the photos in horror. It has to be true; there’s no other explanation.

The timing couldn’t be better.

Or worse.

“She’s gone?” I ask in my iciest voice. I’m not mad at him; I’m mad at myself for not seeing it sooner. I should have. Everything balances on a knife’s edge and this could destroy it all.

Or save it.

“We’re doing everything we can.” He’s nattering on about their efforts, but I don’t have the patience to listen. I walk over to the window, arms crossed over my chest, staring down at the lush garden below, seeing nothing.

Not nothing. Seeing her face. That face I’ve known since almost before I can remember my own. That face I thought I was finally free of.

Except now I can never be free. I need her. We need her. It’s difficult not to choke on the bitter irony that after everything she’s done, I need her. Without her, everything will fall to pieces.

Worse than it has already.

And I almost killed her.


Therapy is the epitome of the best and worst of everything in my life. I sit ramrod straight on the couch, tears threatening to spill. I blink, forcing them back. Not because I’m embarrassed—I’ve cried gallons in front of Elizabeth. I’m just sick to death of crying.

I don’t like to talk about my parents, but it’s Elizabeth’s job to make me once in a while. Like today. She tried to focus on happy memories, but this time all that did was remind me that they’re never going to happen again. That chapter of my life is over.



A huge, gaping forever.

“Hey,” Elizabeth says, startling me back to her office with an audible gasp. “It could be worse. You could be a brain-injured orphan with a weak leg and be having a bad hair day.”

For just a second I stare at her, wide-eyed, trying to decide if the joke is funny or not. But her expression—melodramatic concern with just a hint of true sympathy behind it—cracks through my shell and I start to laugh and swipe at my eyes at the same time.

I have, I admit, kind of a weird relationship with my therapist. I theorize it’s because neither of us thinks I’m crazy.

She doesn’t even let me call her Dr. Stanley—which is what the diplomas hanging on her wall say—just Elizabeth. At first I thought it was one of those cheap shortcuts adults try to take with teenagers to get them to relax and spill their guts, but Elizabeth seriously squirmed every time I called her Dr. Stanley and after a while I finally switched. Now it comes naturally.

“Seriously, Tavia,” Elizabeth says, her voice soft and sober. “It’s not supposed to be easy. I think you’re very brave and that you’re handling things extremely well.”

“It doesn’t feel like it,” I admit, shrugging into a black hoodie. I’ve always liked sweatshirts in general, but these days, anything that covers my head—and with it the scar beneath my still-too-short hair—is a distinct preference.

“Then trust my professional analysis,” Elizabeth says with a smile as she escorts me through the darkened and empty waiting room. “You’re not walking home, are you?” she asks once we reach the exit. We had to reschedule our regular appointment, so it’s after hours and her secretary—Secretary Barbie, I call her, because her face looks like plastic and she basically never talks to me—has already gone home.

“No, Reese is coming.” I usually do walk—on the orders of my physical therapist—but since it’ll be getting dark soon, Reese insisted on picking me up today.

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