Excerpt: Walk the Web Lightly by Mary Pascual

Mary Pascual’s latest – Walk the Web Lightly – releases today, May 7th, from SparkPress.

Naya’s family cares deeply about their art, their traditions, and most importantly, their secret ability to see time. She’s expected to carry on the family business making art and clothes, but what she really wants more than anything is to become a doctor. When a chance to go to a medical science camp arises, her grandmother gives her a challenge: if she can complete her soul wrap before camp begins, she can go; otherwise, she has to give up her science dreams forever. Naya is sure she can win–but she doesn’t know there’s someone outside the family influencing events and willing to do anything to uncover their secrets.

“Pascual expertly weaves friendship, family heritage, and the importance of the choices we make into a mesmerizing tale that’s both beautiful and entertaining. Readers will be inspired to find their own courage thanks to Pascual’s timeless story.” —Katie Keridan, author of Reign Returned and Blood Divided

*Content warning: contains depictions of gun violence and kidnapping.

Amazing Stories is pleased to bring you all this excerpt:

WALK THE WEB LIGHTLY – Chapter Sixteen

Tiggy’s older brother, Brandon, was in juvie. Everyone at school was talking about it. Naya heard about it from three different people before she even got to first period. The spiteful kids were swooping around like birds, looking for the juiciest pieces of gossip. Apparently, Tiggy’s brother had started hanging out with these kids from his high school who got in trouble every time they were bored, and everyone said Saturday night was pretty boring. Those boys set an abandoned car on fire. They said Brandon had already left and was walking home. They said he didn’t even know what was going to happen, but he got picked up by the police all the same.

Naya spotted Tiggy on the far side of the school, near the yucky bathrooms no one liked. Her heart went out to him. He slunk through the halls like he wasn’t sure whether to be ashamed or brag. She walked over slowly so she didn’t spook him.

“Hey,” she said softly. “You okay?”

“Oh yeah! Yeah, I’m good!” He puffed up his chest, but his smile was weak.

She eyed him, her face solemn. “If you want to talk . . .”

He gave up all of a sudden. “It’s so embarrassing! Brandon knew they were going to do something dumb, so he left. Not ten minutes later, they set that car on fire! They thought it would be funny. It was a stupid prank.” Tiggy put his hands over his face.

“I’m so sorry.”

“My parents are coming down on me hard. They put me on a curfew, want me to check in all the time. I’m practically grounded. It’s so unfair! I didn’t do anything. My brother didn’t even do anything!”

She wondered, with a guilty twinge, if that was really true. She could go back and look, walk the line backward. She couldn’t see how they would have picked up his brother so quickly unless he was still close by. Just thinking about it made her feel disloyal. She didn’t think it would help Tiggy knowing either way.

“How’s your brother doing?” she asked instead.

He dropped his hands with a shaky laugh. “Worse than me, that’s for sure. He says juvie sucks. He won’t get out until his detention hearing. Then there might be a trial . . .” He trailed off. “It’s so weird, him not being there. I’m used to talking to him every day, you know?”

He sounded very lost.

“Things will get better,” she said. “Just wait.”

“I’m glad we got to see the meteor shower.” He smiled at her. “I probably won’t get to do anything like that again for a long time.”


The rumors at school turned ugly, saying Tiggy’s brother was in a gang now and that the car fire was part of his initiation. They said he wasn’t walking home at all. They said he held up someone at a gas station for the gasoline. That he danced around the fire like a wild man, and the gang was coming for Tiggy next. The rumors were just ridiculous. But Tiggy got mad and punched a garbage can. Naya gripped a thread in her pocket without realizing it, and when she pulled it out later it was a horrid color, gray brown and pulsing with anxiety.


“I’m not surprised. I mean, look at his brother.”

Naya buried her head in her locker like she was searching for King Tut’s tomb. But she was listening. She had found, time and again, that if she held really still, sometimes people didn’t notice her at all. She’d slide into her locker sideways if it would let her hear more.

“I heard they were going to send him home, but he asked for after-school detention instead. Who asks for detention?”

The girls were talking about Tiggy.

I heard that his parents don’t want Brandon around anymore. They might send him to military school or just leave him in jail. If Tiggy starts following in his footsteps . . .” Sylvia let the thought dangle for their imaginations.

Naya held her breath against the surge of anger.

“No?” chimed the other girls. “Really?”

“Well, if the worst happens, I’m sure they’ll let the brothers bunk together at juvie,” she finished in mock sympathy.

Laughter barked next to Naya’s locker. “You’re terrible, Sylvia!”

“Hey, I didn’t set a car on fire.”


Sometimes, if people say something often enough, they can narrow the possibilities of the lines. Like if a dancer enters a contest, but she keeps telling herself she won’t win, then more lines appear where she doesn’t win. Even if there are lines where she was successful, the dancer might unconsciously choose actions that lead her down the lines where she fails. Because, ultimately, the dancer doesn’t really believe in the best outcome. She still has a choice, but she puts out such a strong intention of failing that the lines react. Grandmother called it a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Naya had seen it happen to people from the outside too, though—an outside-fulfilling prophecy, and that really scared her. One time, a rumor started about an older man in the neighborhood . . . labeling him a sex offender because he liked to go to the park and talk to the kids. He wasn’t actually a sex offender. Mama had checked his lines when she heard, but people believed it anyway. He got yelled at on the street. People called the cops when he went to the park. He stayed indoors more and more. He had been a postal worker before he retired; it was hard on him to stay inside all the time. Naya watched as there were fewer and fewer possibilities on his lines, until he gave up and moved away. Everyone else had created his future for him. Naya would hate for that to happen to Tiggy and his family.

Maybe . . . maybe she could help him somehow. Maybe if she took a peek down the lines.

She traced the line backward. She didn’t know Brandon very well, so it was harder to find him in the lines. She’d only seen him coming or going, at a distance. It was easier to find someone, or something, if she had a clear picture in her mind. It was almost like she called them, and then their line would come to her. In any case, she could get to their location if she knew what someone looked like and their name. She found it much easier to trace the lines of people and things she didn’t know anything about, like randomly surfing the Internet. She’d just pick a line and follow it to see if anything interesting happened. Then once she knew a person’s line, she could find it again. Naya blew her breath out in an exasperated puff. She didn’t have as much practice tracing specific events, especially backward, the way Mama and Grandmother could.

Grandmother always told her to practice more.

“But I already know how to walk the lines. I just see them. We all do!” she had protested.

“Any talent you have can be improved with training and practice! Life can be improved with practice! It comes down to seeing the street, or seeing the colors of everyone’s shoes on the street. Sometimes the fine details lead you to big movements on the lines.”

Naya would roll her eyes and watch a video instead. She didn’t know why anyone would want to see the color of someone’s shoes. Practicing was just one more thing for Grandmother to lecture about.

Now Naya wished she had paid a little more attention to the tips.

She could trace Tiggy’s lines to find Brandon, but she felt weird about that. It wasn’t implicitly against the rules; sometimes they had to look for people they knew in the lines, and all the times she was with him would be blocked to her sight anyway. But he was her friend, and it felt like spying. What if she accidently saw Tiggy in the bathroom or something embarrassing?

She needed another way to find Brandon. What if she started at the car they set on fire? The car in question, a rusty green Honda Civic, had sat abandoned at the edge of the mini-mart’s parking lot forever. Everyone knew it. A car doesn’t make choices, doesn’t have a timeline itself, but it was part of time, just like everything. If she zeroed in on the location, she could watch what happened around the area.

She concentrated on the image of the car in her head. She didn’t usually walk the lines this way, through an object instead of people, but Grandmother talked about it, so she knew it could be done. As she concentrated, the lines shifted to a new angle but . . . not really. It felt like when she watched TV lying upside down on the couch. Naya blinked rapidly, and the car snapped into focus, black with fire damage, the lines of multiple people running around it. Good. Now all she had to do was trace those lines back until she found Brandon or one of his friends.

It took longer than she thought to find the right one. She had to get to the correct time, and a lot of people had been out to the mini-mart that night. Then a bunch of people had stopped to stare at the fire’s destruction afterward, adding more lines. Most of the strongest lines were from the firefighters and police at the scene. Finally, she caught an arc of light from one of the police officers.

Arcs showed up wherever two people, or animals, or things had an interaction. Since interactions happened all the time, the arcs happened all the time too. Stopping on the street to say hello to someone would form an arc, a bright curve connecting their lines together. But the arcs were temporary and faded quickly. Naya usually didn’t pay any attention to them at all. The only time an arc lingered was if it had a strong emotional attachment or if it led to a significant event in a timeline.

The arc from the policeman was still showing days after the fire. On a hunch, she traced the policeman’s line, and a short while later, she found out why it lingered. He was one of the arresting officers.

Brandon’s face was terrible to watch as the police questioned him. Denial, feigned innocence, anger, belligerence, shock, and finally fear passed through his eyes before he was put in the back of the police car.

Naya almost stopped then, her hands hovering in the air. But she had his line, so she traced it back.

Her stomach clenched in a sick twist.

Tiggy’s brother wasn’t part of setting the fire. But he was a lot closer than he let on, just down at the other side of the parking lot, yelling encouragement and laughing. He watched from the sidewalk, his face alight, as the first flames licked the frame of the car. He didn’t even leave until someone down the street started yelling. Then he sauntered slowly away.

He didn’t even look worried. He looked sort of . . . proud.


Naya wandered, dazed, into the painting nook. Mama was painting night skies and blackbirds.

“Mama,” she whispered. “What if you knew something . . . that you didn’t want to know about a person? But you kind of feel like it’s important that someone else who also knows that person should know what you know.” She wasn’t sure if that made sense. “Do you . . . tell them?”

Mama squinted at her, her forehead pinched, her paintbrush floating over the canvas.

“You’ve been looking at the lines. For what?” Her voice sharpened. “What are you planning?”

Naya jumped. “Nothing! Nothing, I just feel really bad for Tiggy’s family.”

“Oh, that mess.” Mama’s face cleared. “It is a shame.” She thought for a moment. “Will what you saw help his case? Or help anyone feel better?”

“No. No, I don’t think so.”

“I’m not sure there’s a point to saying anything then, my love.”

“I just feel bad,” she repeated wretchedly. How was she supposed to face Tiggy at school knowing what she knew?

“Hey.” Mama’s hand was gentle on her cheek. “You don’t have to hold guilt for other people’s choices. He’s young, and we all make mistakes. Maybe he’ll get a second chance.”

Should he get a second chance? Naya wondered. He didn’t actually do anything. But he didn’t seem innocent either.

Maybe she shouldn’t say anything at all.


“He’s a good kid, a good kid.”

Naya kept hearing it whispered—at school, at the store, anywhere the grown-ups gathered.

Well, not all the grown-ups. Some of them were outraged mean.

“Thank goodness the fire didn’t spread. Can you imagine? These damn kids think they’re being clever. Never thinking about the consequences.”

“They got what they deserved.”

“Just plain stupid. Good thing they were arrested. I don’t want idiots at school with my kids.”

That was something Sylvia would say. But it hurt more, hearing it out of an adult’s mouth. Naya couldn’t decide what was more disappointing: what she saw in the lines, or the petty things people were saying.

Tiggy came to school late, right before the bell rang, so he could run to his locker and then to class without talking to anyone. The only place she could find him anymore was in the yucky bathroom. He even ate lunch in there. She had to knock three times on the boys’ door, their secret code, to hand him a banana from the cafeteria. Then he might talk for a minute or two. But there were times when she knew he was in there and he never answered the door.


Naya had been staring out her bedroom window for an hour. She’d given up on homework. Tiggy’s worried face kept floating through her mind. Mama’s advice was right; saying something would only upset Tiggy’s family more, but it gave Naya an idea. Maybe she could find something else in the lines that would help. When a thread snags in a sweater, sometimes if you pulled threads in the opposite direction, you could smooth the snag out. She had looked at the past. Now that she knew how to find Brandon, she could walk his future lines.

That meant she’d probably see his time at juvie. Naya bit her lip. When she imagined prison, all that came to mind was dark and dirt, bars on windows and black bars on clothes. She knew bad things happened in prison, like people getting beat up or stabbed. Would juvie be like that too? She didn’t like cop shows much—too violent. Now she wished she’d watched a few, just to know what to expect.

Wait, they didn’t even wear striped prison clothes anymore, did they? It was all about orange jumpsuits. Orange could be a difficult color to wear.

Naya shook the distractions out of her head and squared her shoulders. No matter how nervous she felt, if she could find something that would help, she had to try. Shifting in her seat to a comfortable position, she narrowed her eyes and put up her hands as the lines snapped into focus around her.

She found Brandon easily. He was sitting on a bunk bed, in a white-and-gray room full of other bunk beds. The room wasn’t nearly as dark as Naya had imagined, more like a small gym or a large classroom, with tile floors and fluorescent lights. Brandon wore baggy khaki pants and an oversized khaki polo shirt with a gray long-sleeve shirt underneath it—almost like a school uniform, but ill-fitting and uglier.

Naya waited for Brandon to move, but he just sat on the top cot, staring off into space. She traced the lines with her hands as they split.

Most of his lines only had small variations, which made sense, considering he was in an enclosed space under lock and key. She zoomed out until she could see around the time of his trial. Naya frowned. She couldn’t see many options. He looked belligerent in a lot of the lines, angry and put out. He yelled at people, or he was huddled with other boys in juvie, looking like he had a chip on his shoulder.

The judge ruled against him every time.

One time, he was limping and he had a tight, frightened look on his face. She zoomed in on that line. The judge didn’t rule against him then. In the courtroom, his mom’s eyes welled up with tears; his dad’s hands clenched and unclenched. Brandon looked small as he walked out of the room with his parents. But at least he got to go home.

She didn’t have it in her to walk farther down his lines.


“It’s so unfair! He didn’t do anything!” Tiggy raged. “He wasn’t even there when it happened!”

They were sharing lunch outside the bathroom again. Two other boys were eating with them, listening to Tiggy’s rant. Naya stared at the floor. Tiggy thought he knew what had happened, but she knew better.

“They’ve got the other two. Why do they need him?” agreed one of the boys.

“They just have it out for us. It’s racial profiling. I heard they’re trying to clean up the gangs.” The other boy made air quotes around the word “gangs.” “Like every brown kid is in a gang,” he said sarcastically, and slurped his chocolate milk. When he was finished, he dunked the carton into a garbage can and nudged Tiggy. “Hey, we’re going to play some basketball before the break ends. You wanna come?”

Tiggy glanced over at Naya. “No, I’m good.”

As soon as the other boys left, Tiggy sagged against the wall next to her. He ran a hand over his head in a bewildered, forgotten way—deflated.

“They need scapegoats. That’s what it is,” he said, more to himself than to her.

He sounded tired, and he looked miserable, utterly miserable. Naya wondered if it was normal for her heart to hurt this bad.

“I don’t know what I’ll do if he doesn’t come home.” His voice caught. He covered it with a cough.

“Tell your brother . . .” It came out as a whisper. She swallowed and tried again. “Tell your brother to act extra sorry at the hearing. Maybe even a little scared.”

“What?” Tiggy looked at her, astonished.

“He can’t act tough. Or angry! Tell him to hang his head and apologize, even if he doesn’t feel like it.”

“Is this . . . is this like that guy with the apple?”

Naya pressed her lips into a line. “Do you want your brother to come home? Just tell him. Okay?”

“Okay,” he said, hope blooming in his eyes.


Something was wrong. She wasn’t sure what it was. It wasn’t the something big trembling on the lines. But there was something . . . down deep at the bottom of her stomach and then shivering up through her heart. Like an ache for a blow that hadn’t come yet. The lines didn’t show her anything at all.


Mary Pascual

Growing up is hard for anyone, but it’s especially difficult if you can actually see time. In her latest YA release, Mary Pascual explores what it would be like to grow up in a family that is able to look into the future at will through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Naya, whose biggest dream is to break the family’s artistic mold and become a doctor. Perfect for early summer reading, this is a title you won’t want to miss!

Mary Pascual is a writer and artist who believes finding magic is only a matter of perspective. She loves stories about characters with heart and fantastical settings that are more than meets the eye. She grew up in California and enjoys reading, art, traveling, exploring outside, and building elaborate stage sets for Halloween. Writing has taken her on a number of unexpected adventures, including working in high tech, meeting psychics, interviewing rock bands, and even once attending a press conference for Bigfoot. She got hooked on reading adult science fiction and fantasy in the fifth grade; in retrospect, much of her reading material was completely inappropriate (which probably explains a few things). She lives with her husband, son, and assorted demanding cats in San Jose, California.

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