Chapter 1

I often feel like shutting my eyes and disappearing, vaporizing. I find myself dreaming about becoming invisible, turning my back on the world forever. In PE class once the need became so intense that I actually walked into a wall, hoping to be able to disappear within in.
That resulted in a broken nose and a permanent NERD label.
But then we-my dad, my brother Rickie, and I-moved to Rockville, Maryland. That could be interpreted as a good or a bad thing. The good news: I was starting with a clean slate at the Gold Star Academy. The bad news: I was starting with a clean slate at the Gold Star Academy.
You see, things have been going downhill for me since my mother left us to pursue her acting career in New York City. That could also be interpreted as a good or a bad thing, but don't get me started. . .
I could trace back the urge to disappear to my second grade teacher, who once wrote a letter to my dad that read, "Aeva is a beautiful girl, but she is so painfully shy that many children don't see it. I think you should enroll Aeva in a private school."
Private schools ever since.
But what Dad didn't know was that I actually read the note. "Painfully shy," I remember saying. Even then, I was a poet with an artistic sense of things. Painfully shy. I loved the way it sounded on my tongue.
At night, when everyone was asleep, I'd whisper it over and over again. Painfully shy, painfully shy, painfully shy. . .
It was then that my dreams of disappearing really kicked in. All through middle school, I learned to stay quiet, to hide in the corners. I spent my time daydreaming. In middle school, kids nicknamed me Aeva the Dreamer.
Aeva the Dreamer, painfully shy, Aeva the Dreamer, painfully shy.
I learned to turn off my sense. I didn't remember the last time I turned on the waterworks. Seriously. I became numb and unfeeling, almost as if I was living a dream. A dream that could turn into a nightmare at any moment.
I was too scared to let loose, to live. And I only put half of myself into life, so that I couldn't get hurt.
But once Mom left us. . . I didn't think I could ever live, even only half of me. And I was reduced to an even number person than I already was. I was afraid that if I stopped being Aeva the Dreamer, if I stopped hiding my emotions, if I became the Real Me. . . I was afraid that I'd get hurt.