Miles Away from You

Miles Away from You

by A.B. Rutledge
Miles Away from You

Miles Away from You

by A.B. Rutledge



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 From debut voice A.B. Rutledge comes a quirky and completely fresh story of young love, loss, and the drastic distances we sometimes have to travel in order to move on, perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Jandy Nelson. Explores gender nonconformity and the spectrum of sexual preference in an authentic way.
It's been three years since Miles fell for Vivian, a talented and dazzling transgender girl. Eighteen months since a suicide attempt left Vivian on life support. Now Miles isn't sure who he is without her, but knows it’s time to figure out how to say goodbye.
He books a solo trip to Iceland but then has a hard time leaving the refuge of his hotel room. After a little push from Oskar, a local who is equal parts endearing and aloof, Miles decides to honor Vivian's life by photographing her treasured Doc Martens standing empty against the surreal landscapes. With each step he takes, Miles finds his heart healing--even as he must accept that Vivian, still in a coma, will never recover.
Told through a series of instant messages to Vivian, this quirky and completely fresh novel explores love, loss, and the drastic distances we sometimes have to travel in order to move on.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781328476906
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 03/20/2018
Format: eBook
Pages: 272
File size: 3 MB
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

A.B. Rutledge is an optician from Southeast Missouri. She likes '90s alternative music, dresses with pockets, and leaving Halloween decorations up all year long. When she's not up at 3 a.m. scribbling out stories, you can find her in her art studio covered in paper scraps, paint, and cats. Miles Away From You is her first novel.
Twitter @a_b_rutledge
Instagram @a.b.rutledge

Read an Excerpt

chapter one

Miles Away to Vivian Girl

April 25 8:49 PM

This will be my last message to you. I don’t know why I’m still doing this, since I’m basically just talking to myself anyway. I guess I feel like I need to get my story straight. I need to put it all down so that tomorrow I’ll be able to articulately say why exactly I’m dropping out of the case.
     And that is, well . . . it’s obvious that we’re not going to win. I’m not your husband. We only dated for a year and a half. I have no legal rights to you.
     And I know, okay, I know that this whole thing goes beyond win or lose. I know it’s a statement. I’m taking a stand for your rights, and the rights of a lot of other people. But, damn, Vivian. I have rights, too. I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE.
     I am not being articulate tonight. Just angry. I need to walk away.

Miles Away to Vivian Girl

April 25 8:53 PM

Why the fuck did you take all those pills, babe?

Miles Away to Vivian Girl

April 25 9:03 PM

So selfish. There. I said it.

Miles Away to Vivian Girl

April 25 9:13 PM

I’m done. I have nothing left to say to you.

Miles Away to Vivian Girl

April 29 12:14 AM

Okay, I know I said I was done, but here I am writing to you again because somehow—despite the coma—you just woke me up. My phone went off at midnight reminding me that it’s the anniversary of the day we first started talking online. It had to be you that set the alarm a long time ago. I even got a new phone last summer. Stupid Cloud must have transferred it over.
     My heart is racing. I didn’t even know you had the capability to do that to me anymore. Five years, Vivian. Has it really been that long?
     I remember how happy I was when you found me on DeviantArt and asked if you could use my scribbly cartoon explaining different gender identities in your online magazine. I was thirteen and convinced I’d been “discovered” as a fancy-pants artist. Even after I learned that you were only a couple years older than me and Mixtape Mag wasn’t that big of a deal (well, not at the time, anyway), I still felt like this was something BIG AND IMPORTANT. And I was right. I can’t believe how much Mixtape’s grown over the years.
     I feel horrible about this: your website is gone. Everything. At first I tried to keep it running, but you’re the one who set it all up. Nothing’s in my name. Your parents sent me a cease and desist almost a year ago. And of course they didn’t bother renewing the domain, so now everything’s lost. Or it will be soon. I contacted the host, and there’s a forty-five-day grace period, but there’s no way the case will make it to court on time. What is even the point anymore? I can’t save you. I can’t save Mixtape.
     I’m sorry.
     I’m out.

Miles Away to Vivian Girl

May 1 6:15 AM

It’s been a crap couple of days, no reprieve in sight. Especially after what I just did. I called my lawyer and told him he should go ahead and send the emails to your parents and mine, telling them I’m done with all this lawsuit bullshit. They can keep fighting if they want, but I can’t anymore. I thought about it all night. I haven’t slept. I wandered over to Brian’s house at, like, four a.m., but I couldn’t get him to wake up, so I’m sitting alone in the bed of his truck. I just saw the sun rise.
     A minute ago, there was this plane. A little lemon-colored crop-duster on its way from the airport to spray pesticides on the field. I imagined for a moment that it was one of those sky-writer planes. I pictured it loop-de-looping as it etched out my deepest, darkest secret in fluffy white clouds for all the world to see.
     I want my girlfriend to die.
     I’m an atheist, a pacifist, a vegetarian, and a clingy, pansexual queer. Up until a year ago, a death wish was something I’d never experienced before. I’m the kind of guy who shoos insects out of the house by scooping them up on scraps of junk mail and ushering them out the front door.
     I once rehydrated a slug.
     And, yet, here I am. Wishing with all my might that you, an actual human being, would just quit fucking being alive. I’m the selfish one now. But I’m just so tired. Your parents want to pretend the real you never existed, and my parents seem to think that I’m the one who should get to call all the shots. I turned eighteen last month, and you know what I got? My moms marched me over to the courthouse and made me file a lawsuit. They called it a declaration of war. And for what? To give me the power to do what your family won’t: pull the plug.
     I’ve spent the last year and a half with all this anger. A hatred directed toward your parents who, despite all scientific and ethical reasoning, have elected to keep you on life support.
     Normally, I seethe. I think about how your family members still call you by your birth name. How, after you were defenseless, they cut off your hormones and your beautiful hair.
     And underneath it all, normally, there is pity. For the girl I love, who hated her body so much. I don’t know what you were feeling that day. I wish you’d left a note. All I know is that you swallowed a bottle of pills and a bottle of vodka and then all the best parts of you blinked out.
     You hated your body so much. And now your body is all that is left.
     I’ve been waiting here for the cycle of negativity to come. I invited Anger and Pity and Seething and Rage to my one-man tailgate party, but I guess Apathy’s the only one who’s going to show up.
     Soon your parents will check their email and cheer, having officially worn out the enemy before the battle even began. And soon my parents will check their email and know what a huge fucking disappointment I am.
     And, two hours away from me, in a hospital just outside of St. Louis, a machine will keep you breathing—indefinitely now—while a nurse clips your toenails.

Miles Away to Vivian Girl

May 1 9:54 AM

Well, my phone is blowing up. A lot of people want answers from me right now, and I don’t know what to say to them. I think I’ll turn this thing off and take the long way on my walk home. Let my moms and all the lawyers and reporters catch my voicemail for a while. Later, V.

Miles Away to Vivian Girl

May 7 5:23 AM

You know who I hate right now? Your sister. She texted me the other day to ask when your parents could come get your stuff, and she actually referred to you as her “sibling.” Like she’s trying to be all gender-neutral and PC about it. Too late, bitch. Too. Fucking. Late.
     So, they came last night. Your mom and dad showed up with a van and a couple of people from their church. I was sitting out on the fence under the welcome sign at Camp waiting for them to arrive. They stayed in the van until a cop car showed up, then all of them walked over to me, police escort in tow.
     The cop said my full name like a question, and I said yes and led them down to your cabin. Officer Lewis said I could supervise, make sure they didn’t take anything that wasn’t yours. I plunked down on the couch and said, “They can have what they want.”
     I meant it. I was supposed to have everything ready and packed up for them, but it’s sort of impossible to tell anymore what’s mine and what’s yours. Since you’ve been gone, I’ve been staying at Camp a lot. Sleeping there, even. I guess you could say I moved in.
     The cop sat with me on the couch and played around on his phone.
     “Miles?” your mom called from your bedroom in the loft. Your parents peeked down into the main room and did that thing they always do where your mom pretends to be a sweet person and your dad folds his arms across his chest and shoots thoughts of fiery-hot damnation into my soul. “Have you seen hi—the Bible?”
     Gaaaaaaawd. There were so many, so damn many, answers to that question. Yes, Mrs. Loftis, I have seen the Bible. I know, I know, it’s NOT Adam and Steve.
      Bible? Oh, there’s hardly anything left of that old thing. You see, every Sabbath, your daughter and I would tear out a page, burn it, then commit most unholy acts of fornication atop the smoldering pile of ash.
     Be civil, Mamochka always tells me. Do not engage.
     “Mm-hmm,” I said, grabbing your Bible off the bookshelf and tossing it into one of the cardboard boxes they’d brought.
     “Thank you,” she said.
     They didn’t take much. Just . . . I don’t know, kid stuff. Old-you stuff. Pre-Vivian stuff. Photo albums and trinkets and shit. They took your childhood, V. They didn’t take any of your real clothes, of course. But I think those assholes took some of mine. Like that stripy sweater you gave me. I guess to them it seems like something either of us would have worn. Your sister was here with them, just kind of crying. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. When they’re around, I always feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. How much more of you do they think they can take from me?

Miles Away to Vivian Girl

May 9 10:16 PM

I just binge-watched an entire season of Orange Is the New Black and logged on here to tell you about it. That doesn’t seem healthy. I guess it could be worse. I could be one of those people who throws birthday parties for their cats.
     I feel okay. Not okay. Numb. Which is better than Constant Pain. Numb Is the New Okay. So much shit has happened, though, so I’m not going to talk about some TV show. I should update you on what’s going on in my life. The life that I am still living because I have yet to try that booze and Vicodin combo that seems to have worked so well for you.
     Everyone is so pissed right now. Strangers even. My inbox is full of hate mail from all over, people telling me what a shitbag I am for not standing up for you anymore. As if some random person in, like, New Zealand should have a say in what happens to your body.
     My mothers keep saying they’re not mad at me. They keep calling to tell me that they still love me. I wish they would just admit how pissed they really are. Mamochka never will, of course. She’s been checking on me, like, every fifteen minutes, like she’s genuinely worried I might try to off myself.
     She must have forgotten that I’m on the Camp email list. I just got a huge mass email about you and how “we as parents” must make suicide prevention a top priority. Did you know, Vivian, that suicide is the second leading cause of death among youths aged ten to twenty-four? And did you also know that a whopping 41 percent of transgender youths have attempted to take their own lives? And ohmygodcanyouimagine that I am 100 percent done with this shit?

Miles Away to Vivian Girl

May 11 8:52 PM

I’m a horrible best friend. I haven’t talked to Brian in months. I went to his house today to see if he would help me move the rest of your stuff before Camp opens again, but I felt so bad about ignoring him for so long. I ended up just asking to borrow his truck. He handed over the keys, and I did all the moving by myself. It’s probably for the best.
     I hate the idea of moving back in with my moms. But I just can’t live there anymore. Not in that little cabin where you and I used to spend all our time. It doesn’t even feel like the same place now that so much of your stuff is gone. I really loved us being out on our own. I felt like a grownup. Most of the time. Sometimes I knew we were just playing house.
     When I showed up at my parents’ house, Mom was at work, but Mamochka was home. She was working on a quilt, knitted panels scattered all over the living room. She rose out of the mess and sprinted to meet me in the entryway.
     “I don’t want to talk about it right now,” I said. “But can I move back in?”
     “Why do you think you even have to ask?” She threw her arms around me, pressing her ear against my chest. I remember one time you said that she and I were the same, that whatever we’re feeling, we wear it. You were probably right. I could tell—just feel it in the air—how happy she was to have me back home.
     And it’s not like I was angry when I moved out. Or that there was some huge fight. I just wanted some independence. Some space. And now all that space feels like the tip of a freshly extinguished match pressed against my skin. Sulfur, heat, and pain without any flames.
     Mom came home with Chinese takeout, and I could tell by the way she was acting that she’d already gotten a he’s-here-and-don’t-badger-him text from her wife. She put the food and her car keys down, then threw an arm around my back.
     “We love you, son. We’re not mad, okay?” she said. For the millionth time.
     I nodded. I wanted to believe her, but I knew she was pissed. She was the one who’d decided to fight for power of attorney over you. Who convinced me. The one who’d filed the lawsuit. And the one who has decided to keep it up, despite the fact that I dropped out. Her actions turned your situation into a media circus. She answered phone calls from reporters and even let them fly her out to New York so she could debate conservative newscasters live on cable TV. She lives for that bullshit.
     And I am trying, really trying, to not be mad at her anymore. I don’t know if all this is just her chance to soapbox about LGBT rights, or maybe this is her way of repairing the wrong of losing a patient-turned-family-member. All I know is that whatever all this shit is, it’s not about me.
     “I want to go to Amsterdam,” I told them at dinner. Just to break the silence. To talk about other things.
     “Amsterdam?” Mamochka asked. “You’ll just get into trouble.”
     “No, see, that’s the point. I won’t get into trouble, because everything I could possibly want to do is already legal there.” I doubt I actually would get high or pay a complete stranger for sex, but maybe I want the option?
     Mamochka stuck out her lip, but didn’t say anything. Across the table, Mom had her eyebrows raised. Sex work is the one thing upon which my über-liberal lesbian parents do not agree. Mom thinks people should do what they want with their bodies, and Mamochka says human beings are not to be bought and sold.
     I thought maybe I wanted to see them fight. Deep down I knew it was something else. “Actually, I don’t even care if it’s Amsterdam or Bumfuck, Texas. I just can’t be here in June, okay?”
     Camp. I know I can’t handle it. Especially since they decided to rename it. Mamochka’s idea, of course. Camp Vivian. Privately I’ve considered it Camp Vivian for a while now, because that’s where I fell in love with you.
     And, I mean, Camp means everything to me. How cool is it that my moms combined their individual interest of crafting and counseling into something—besides me—that they both really love? But I can’t deal with the campers right now. You adored those kids, and they idolized you. How the hell am I supposed to be a role model for two dozen LGBT teenagers? Am I supposed to act like everything’s going to be just dandy for them when they grow up? How am I supposed to even look at them when they know I couldn’t fight for you?
     Last summer, we shut down because none of us could handle Camp without you there. This year, though, everyone is ready to go back. Everyone but me, that is.
     I really need to get the hell out of here, V.

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