When the World was Flat (and we were in love)
Author: Ingrid Jonach
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Release Date: 3 September 2013 in the US and Canada, and 5 September 2013 in the UK, as well as worldwide as ebook and audio.
Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.
When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.
But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love.
When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.
An epic and deeply original sci-fi romance, taking inspiration from Albert Einstein’s theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself.
Ingrid Jonach writes books for children and young adults, including the chapter books The Frank Frankie and Frankie goes to France published by Pan Macmillan, and When the World was Flat (and we were in love) published by Strange Chemistry.
Since graduating from university with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing (Hons) in 2005, Ingrid has worked as a journalist and in public relations, as well as for the Australian Government.
Ingrid loves to promote reading and writing, and has been a guest speaker at a number of schools and literary festivals across Australia, where she lives with her husband Craig and their pug dog Mooshi.
Despite her best efforts, neither Craig nor Mooshi read fiction.
Find out more at www.ingridjonach.com
Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
Albert Einstein, 1879 – 1955
I remember when I first heard his name – Tom. I was sitting in the cafeteria with my best friends, Jo and Sylv, in the last week of our sophomore year at Green Grove Central High School, scraping Wite-Out off my nails and wondering whether I could stomach the burger on the tray in front of me, when the news broke about the “new guy”.
It was a lifetime later – three months, twenty-four days, eight hours and three minutes – before I came face to face with him and before he literally turned my universe upside down and inside out.
His arrival in our small town was heralded by Melissa Hodge, who had heard the news from her father, who had heard it from his accountant, who in turn had heard it from the local gallery owners.
Green Grove, Nebraska, has a population of four thousand, six hundred and something, which results in about two degrees of separation between the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. But during his first summer in Green Grove, Tom was like the Loch Ness monster or some sort of sasquatch. You know what I mean; seen only by a friend of a friend of a friend.
Melissa had a photo on her cell, but given our social standing we were the last to get a look. She snorted through her snobby nose about it whenever we saw her at the shops or the pool over summer, but it ended up being one of those grainy shots they put on the news when some hillbilly spots a UFO. It could have been Tom, or it could have been Mr Brady, the hermit who lives in the grasslands with the prairie dogs.
Then we heard that Tom had enrolled in our school and would start at the end of August.
Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary. I like to think of it as BT and AT – Before Tom and After Tom. I must have guessed. I mean there were the dreams after all – nightmares, really. They started a couple of nights after I heard about Tom. You might think it a coincidence, like I did. But I can tell you now that the two were well and truly linked.
In the first nightmare, I was murdered in my bed. In my dream, I woke to see a figure standing beside me, silhouetted in the light from the open window. I screamed as he – she? – leaned towards me, coming so close that I could feel the scratch of what I thought was a beard on my cheek.
I was suddenly racked with cold, like I had been thrown into a bathtub of ice. I screamed again and the sound echoed in my ears as if it came from someone else.
I woke with a start and found Deb shaking me with both hands, like a child with a snow globe.
I slumped against her, breathing in her scent of lavender as she rocked me. It had been a long time since I had allowed her to hold me like that, a long time since we had been in the role of mother and daughter. My tears left damp patches on her nightdress.
“Hush. Hush. Hush,” she whispered to the rhythm of our rocking.
I continued to repeat the word in my mind after she had stopped. They say you can talk yourself into anything through repetition, which is why they replay TV commercials about a thousand times. They call it the “rule of repetition”.
I managed to calm down after what seemed like a few hundred hushes and looked up at my mother through swollen eyes. “I dreamed I died,” I told her between hiccups.
She rubbed my back. “Death symbolizes a new beginning, you know. It means the death of the past and the birth of the future.”
My mother considered herself a dreamologist, amongst other things.
She cupped my face in her hands, considering me with crinkled eyes. Suddenly, she frowned and wiped my top lip with her thumb, showing me a smear of blood; a nosebleed.
My bottom lip quivered. A nosebleed? From a dream?
“Poor Lillie,” Deb clucked, holding a tissue to my nose. “Let me make you a cup of chamomile tea. I could add valerian,” she mused. “And I think I have marshmallow root.”
My mother made herbal teas that were akin to dirty dishwater. Her herbologist credentials came from a couch surfer who had stayed with us last summer who had also read tea leaves. I used to tip my tea leaves into the trash before she could tell me there was someone tall, dark and handsome in the bottom of my mug. I was used to couch surfers and their sideshow talents. When I was about four years old a guy had me convinced he could pull a handkerchief out of his thumb. He stayed for so long that I started calling him Dad. He packed up and left the next day, leaving behind the handkerchief and its rubber thumb.
I drank the tea that night, but the dreams went on and on – a summer of nightmares. Deb continued to wake me with soothing noises and hot cups of tea, as if it were medicine.
In another dream, I was being chased. My sneakers thudded on an uneven flagstone path with dips and crevices that turned my ankles. My breath was short. My heart beat fast. A row of shrubs lined the path on either side and red birds flitted in and out of their branches, their wings waving like warning flags.
I looked over my shoulder at a figure dressed in black and realized the scratch of his beard had been the wool of a balaclava.
Like my other dreams, this dream ended with a chill that spread through my body, from my head to my toes. It brought my lungs to a standstill and stopped my heart dead. The sensation followed me into waking hours, blurring the line between my dreams and reality.
Cold. Cold. Cold, I thought, as I stood in the shower the next morning, my mind like a mouse on a wheel, turning, turning, turning. I shivered under the hot stream of water. The rule of repetition.