Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with JA Souders’s Asher from Revelations.
Six weeks after her arrival on the Surface, Evelyn Winters is no closer to unlocking the memories lost in her subconscious than she was when she first came. Isolated in a strange new society, Evie has only Gavin Hunter to remind her of who she once was.
But even with a clean slate, it’s easy to see that Evie doesn’t fit in on the Surface. And as her differences make her feel more and more alone, she can’t help but yearn for that place she doesn’t remember: the isolated city hidden in the depths of the ocean. Elysium. Home.
But she can’t exactly tell Gavin what she’s feeling. Not when he’s the one who helped her escape Elysium in the first place, and has the scars to prove it. Though the doctors say otherwise, Gavin believes that Evie just needs time. And if her memories don’t come back, well, maybe she’s better off not remembering her past.
But the decision may be out of their hands when Evie’s ever-elusive memories begin to collide with reality. People and images from her past appear in the most unlikely places, haunting her, provoking her…and making her seem not only strange but dangerous.
Evie and Gavin can’t wait around for her memories to return. They’ll have to journey across the Outlands of the Surface to find help, and in the end, their search may just lead them back to the place it all started…
The Many Colors of Black Friday
Black Friday a day that, since the twentieth century, has technically been defined as the day where stores start actually turning a profit, or operating “in the black” as opposed to operating at a loss or “in the red.” It was a day, until the War started, which took place the day after a holiday that had been known as Thanksgiving. Why we needed one day a year to remind ourselves we needed to be thankful for what we had is beyond me, but apparently that thankfulness never carried into the rest of the year and certainly not into the day after.
We no longer celebrate Thanksgiving, which was brutally killed off by the War that took us from one giant but connected world, to a still giant, but no longer connected one. Where the only things left were small cities spread throughout the country, completely cut off from each other besides the occasional delivery. Where Outsiders are treated with extreme intolerance, and where people have forgotten what it means to be grateful for anything.
Black Friday, however, is alive and well–at least in Rushlake City. Celebrated the last Friday of November every year. The day when everyone, including the extremely poor and the extremely wealthy, wait impatiently outside buildings decorated for the holiday formerly known as Christmas, but now simply known as “mid-winter”. A holiday where we celebrate that the long winter nights are finally over and the days will start becoming longer again until “mid-summer” where the nights start becoming longer again.
I’ve always hated this day. In my opinion Black Friday was so named, not because of the state of the retailers ledgers, but because of the horrible things people do to each other in the name of saving a buck. Where the color from the world is sucked out of it to leave an empty black space.
I haven’t gone out in the disaster since I was ten. When a mob of people almost trampled me for no apparent reason.
My mother and grandmother still go out, but I stayed home where I’d watch the news. And sigh as someone was hurt or killed over whatever the newest entertainment gadgets were on sale or people beat bloody over the last of the waffle makers.
I never understood why so many people went out that day. Even if you weren’t one of the ones fighting over stupid stuff, there were plenty of other things to hate. The traffic. The rudeness of shoppers and store personnel. The ridiculousness of waiting an hour and half in line to save just a few more dollars.
But now…now I have Evie. And somehow she’s convinced me to venture out into the madness and chaos of it all, before her tests tomorrow. Before we get the answers to the questions she’s so desperately waiting for.
And damned if I’m not enjoying it despite myself.
Sure the shoppers are still rude, and push us around to get to that next deal. And there’s a scuffle now and then. But Evie seems oblivious to it. She’s excited and…Dare I say it?…happy. Or at least as happy as she can be considering the circumstances with Gavin. And now that it’s dark, she’s like a child basically running here and there, pointing out things I’d long stopped noticing.
Even though there are obvious moments where she’s flashing back to some elusive memory of her past, and you can see panic dart across her features, she quickly pulls herself together and we’re off and running to some other thing that’s caught her fancy.
Like now when she tugs on my arm and pulls me to the park and says with a wistful sigh, “I love how they’ve strung up all those sparkling lights across the walkways. Every time I stare up it’s like looking at the stars shining on the ocean.”
She lifts her face to the sky and her eyes reflect the lights, making her eyes appear like they are the stars she’s talking about.
She tilts her head back down and smiles at me. And I want to show her more. Not just the ugliness of Black Friday, but the awesomeness of it too. The wonder that I’d forgotten had existed, when you push back the dark curtains. I glance over to the gazebo draped in those same crystalline lights before slipping her arm through mine and pulling her along the pathway lined by trees dripping with even more of those same lights. They’re so white, that they make everything appear blue in the darkness. She appears blue and practically glowing as we make our way to the gazebo and I have to smile. She’s beautiful. Almost as if someone had sculpted her in glass and placed her in my care as a gift of forgiveness for all the horrible things I’ve done.
My heart clenches at what that gift means and the reason why it’s even my gift at all. I shouldn’t be here. With her. There’s someone else who deserves her much more than I ever will, but he’s gone and it’s my duty to take care of her, because she’s not just my best friend’s girl anymore. She’s mine too.
When we get to the edge of the walkway before the boardwalk to the gazebo starts, I stop. “Close your eyes,” I whisper in the near silence. She does and I guide her by her arm along the wooden planks until we’re in the gazebo and leaning against the railing.
“Open your eyes,” I say.
And I don’t need to watch her to know when she does. She lets out this little gasp and places her hand against her chest as she stares out over the water at the lights from the city twinkling on them. The way the lights draped over Town Hall make it appear to be some kind of castle from a fairy tale.
She smiles. “It’s gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous.” She reaches out a hand as if to touch the golden lights that shine from the other boardwalk. She turns to me. “Thank you.”
It’s in that moment I remember that black isn’t the absence of color, but the absorption of all of it.
I shake my head. “No. Thank you.”
She laughs and shakes her hair back from her face. “Come on.” She tugs me back the way we came. “I want to do some more shopping.”
And even though my arms are full of bags and my legs feel they’re going to fall off from all the walking and the city is still completely insane with bargain hunters looking for the best deal. Not to mention I’ve been run over by a stroller twice, yelled at by a lady my grandmother’s age for accidentally bumping into her, and my head is pounding with the sounds of too many people talking at once, I’m loving every minute of the chaos. I think I might even have a new favorite holiday.
Meet JA Souders!
J.A. SOUDERS is the author of the Elysium Chronicles and lives in the land of sunshine and palm trees with her husband and two children where she spends her time writing about the monsters under the bed, day dreaming about living in an underwater colony, and failing miserably at playing video games.
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Thank you JA Souders for taking part in Literary Escapism’s Black Friday!