Join me in welcoming Rainbow Award winning author Suki Fleet to my blog with a never-before-seen excerpt from her newest book, The Glass House!
About The Glass House
At seventeen, Sasha is a little lost and a lot lonely. He craves friendship and love, but although he’s outwardly confident, his self-destructive tendencies cause problems, and he pushes people away. Making sculptures out of the broken glass he collects is the only thing that brings him any peace, but it's not enough, and every day he feels himself dying a little more inside. Until he meets Thomas.
Thomas is shy but sure of himself in a way Sasha can't understand. He makes it his mission to prove to Sasha that he is worthy of love and doesn't give up even when Sasha hurts him. Little by little Sasha begins to trust Thomas. And when Sasha is forced to confront his past, he realizes accepting the love Thomas gives him is the only way to push back the darkness.
The house was a lot more interesting than the outside of it had suggested. For one it was full of art—mostly these slightly deranged sculptures of headless figures made of melted vinyl records. I liked them a lot. Glancing at Thomas to make sure it wasn’t a huge no-no, I picked one up—a horse. It had ears but no face.
“Made that when I was thirteen.” Thomas shrugged, glowing with a strange sort of self-conscious pride.
I opened my mouth to say something incredulous, because I didn’t believe him—these sculptures were amazing, and if he was doing these at thirteen, the stuff he would be doing now at fifteen must be fucking awesome. But then it occurred to me I had no idea about Thomas’s art, what he did in class with me at school, because he was the one who always came over to talk to me, not the other way around, so I closed my mouth again.
I peered at the lurid record label on the horse’s belly.
“The Bee Gees?” I said with raised eyebrows, unable to squeeze out anything nice about the sculpture even though I was impressed.
“Car boot sales, most of them. Loads of sixties ones, and I’ve got some really obscure rave ones in beautiful colors upstairs,” he replied, unfazed.
“Do you listen to them?”
“Of course.” Thomas looked at me and frowned. The expression made three deep lines appear on his forehead, and I had the strangest desire to run my finger along them. “That’s how I got the idea of what each one wanted to be. I listened, and I visualized the record spinning in space, changing shape.”
“You’re not serious.” I almost snorted. I knew I was being rude.
Thomas regarded me uncertainly. “You make huge abstract glass sculptures—how do you come up with your ideas?”
“I don’t. I just….” What did I do? I had no idea how my sculptures came into being, where my ideas came from.
Now it was my turn to frown. When I was working on a sculpture, I was aware of nothing else. I was in this space where I hardly even existed. It was as close to happiness or peace as I ever came.
I put the horse down, and Thomas took me upstairs. He showed me his gran’s studio. The room was tiny, full of hundreds of very small, amazingly delicate and intricately cut out white paper shapes hanging from the ceiling on invisible threads. They were like beautiful suspended snow or fragments of an explosion caught and time stopped.
I looked around for a bit, transfixed by the miniscule detail of each piece.
“It’s her hobby,” Thomas said. “I keep telling her she should do an art show. She has loads of art friends, but I think she’s too scared.” He smiled, and I figured he really cared about his gran.
Thomas’s room was in the attic. His bed was in the corner under the eaves. There was a dip in the mattress, a groove he had made over the years. The mattress in my room was the same. Weirdly this comforted me.
“Do you want a drink of anything?” he asked, gesturing that I sit down somewhere.
I looked between the chair covered in clothes and the beanbag on the floor next to a pile of records. I chose the beanbag.
“No,” I answered, picking up a few records and flicking through them.
Thomas had a record player on the floor next to his bed. I didn’t ask his permission—I just reached over and put on the record I had in my hand.
“So what’s this one going to be?” I said as the initial notes of “Dream Weaver” blasted through the stereo.
Thomas frowned again, unhappily this time, and turned the record off.
“They’re my dad’s.”
I shrugged. “You don’t want to know if this one wants to be a dragon or a gorgon?” I knew I was pushing us into the realm of awkward with my question, but I couldn’t seem to stop. I didn’t even know why I was doing it.
I got like this sometimes. It was one of the reasons I avoided making friends.
Thomas looked uncomfortable. I wasn’t so insensitive I couldn’t see he missed his dad. But so what?
At least he had a dad to miss. Mine was so long gone I knew he was never coming back.
“I haven’t done any vinyl sculptures for a while. It’s something I did with my dad.”
“So what is your art project for your exam, then?” I said without thinking as I leafed through the record pile.
I probably shouldn’t have let my ignorance about Thomas’s art show. All it would have taken would be for me to look around in class once in a while.
When I glanced up, I could see he was hurt. I felt a brief flash of twisted victory—I hurt everyone, and once again I’d proved myself right.
“If I didn’t come and talk to you at school, you wouldn’t even notice me, would you?” he said in a hollow voice.
Should I be honest? Sometimes people said things like that when the last thing they wanted was for you to be honest. But honesty had a brutal kind of charm that I liked, even though I could feel the edge of this conversation biting into me with the sharpness of a shard of glass.
“I don’t notice anyone,” I said.
“You noticed Jessica Cassidy.”
“She pestered me to model for her,” I replied tiredly. Just like Jeff Deal had. It was like I was stuck in some sickly repeating loop.
“If I asked you to model for me, would you?”
He had this confrontational thing going on with his tone. I didn’t much like it.
We were clashing big-time.
“Depends.” Though it didn’t really—if he asked me, I would say no. I didn’t know why.
“Model for me.” Even as he said it, his voice waivered, and I knew he was going to storm out before he did it.
“Only if you sculpt me out of vinyl.”
His bedroom door slammed shut, and I heard him descend the stairs.
I laughed even though nothing was funny.
There was something wrong with me.
Miserably I got up off the beanbag, I didn’t want to be in this room anymore. The whole house was permeated with bad feeling now. This whole day.
I left a piece of the glass from my pocket on Thomas’s desk, then crept silently downstairs and slipped out the front door before anyone saw me.
I’d left him my second-favorite piece, the glass all blue-green iridescence, shaped like Africa. I wondered if he’d know what it meant, because I had absolutely no idea.
About Suki Fleet
Suki Fleet grew up on a boat and as a small child spent a lot of time travelling at sea with her family. She has always wanted to be a writer. As a kid she told ghost stories to scare people, but stories about romance were the ones that inspired her to sit down and write. She doesn’t think she’ll ever stop writing them. Her novel This is Not a Love Story won Best Gay Debut in the 2014 Rainbow Awards