Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Book Trailer: Fracture by Megan Miranda


Fracture by Megan Miranda
Release Date: 5th January
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Young Adult

Eleven minutes might as well be eternity underwater. It only takes three minutes without air for loss of consciousness. Permanent brain damage begins at four minutes. And then, when the oxygen runs out, full cardiac arrest occurs.  Death is possible at five minutes. Probable at seven. Definite at ten. Delaney Maxwell was underwater for eleven minutes. And she’s alive.

Note: There's an extract from the book below here, if you can't see it, then click on the title of the blog post and you can read it. Blogger apparently won't play fair with these jump breaks.




Chapter 1

The first time I died, I didn’t see God.
 No light at the end of the tunnel. No haloed angels. No
dead grandparents.
 To be fair, I probably wasn’t a solid shoo- in for heaven.
But, honestly, I kind of assumed I’d make the cut.
 I didn’t see any fi re or brimstone, either.
 Not even an endless darkness. Nothing.
 One moment I was clawing at the ice above, skin numb,
lungs burning. Then everything— the ice, the pain, the brightness
fi ltering through the surface of the lake— just vanished.
 And then I saw the light.
 A man in white who was decidedly not God stuck a
penlight into each eye, once, twice, and pulled a tube the size
of a garden hose from my throat. He spoke like I’d always
imagined God would sound, smooth and commanding. But I
knew he wasn’t God because we were in a room the color of
custard, and I hate custard. Also, I counted no less than five
tubes running through me. I didn’t think there’d be that much
plastic in heaven.
 Move, I thought, but the only movement was the blur of
white as the man passed back and forth across my immobile
body. Speak, I thought, but the only sound came from his
mouth, which spewed numbers and letters and foreign words.
Sound and fury, signifying nothing.
 I was still trapped. Only now, instead of staring through
the surface of a frozen lake, I was staring through the surface
of a frozen body. But the feelings were the same: useless, heavy,
terrified.
 I was a prisoner in my own body, lacking all control.
“Patient history, please,” said the man who was not God.
 He lifted my arm and let it drop. Someone yawned loudly in
the background.
 Tinny voices echoed in the distance, coming from all angles.
 “Seventeen- year- old female.”
 “Severe anoxic brain injury.”
 “Nonresponsive.”
 “Coma, day six.” 
 Day six? I latched onto the words, clawed my way to the
surface, repeated the phrase until it became more than just a
cluster of consonants and vowels. Day six, day six, day six. Six
days. Almost a full week. Gone. A stethoscope hung from the
neck of the man in white, swinging into focus an inch in
front of my nose, ticking down the time.

* * *

 Rewind six days. Decker Phillips, longtime best friend and
longer- time neighbor, yelled up from the bottom of the stairs,
“Get your butt down here, Delaney! We’re late!”
 Crap. I slammed my English homework closed and searched
through my bottom drawer, looking for my snow gear.
 “Just a sec,” I said as I struggled with my thermal pants.
 They must have shrunk since last winter. I hitched them up
over my hips and attempted to stretch out the waistband,
which cut uncomfortably into my stomach. No matter how
far I stretched the elastic band, it snapped instantly back into
place again. Finally, I gripped the elastic on both sides of the
seam and pulled until I heard the tear of fabric. Victory.
 I topped everything with a pair of white snow pants and
my jacket, then stuffed my hat and gloves into my pockets. All
my layers doubled my normal width, but it was winter. Maine
winter, at that. I ran down the steps, taking the last three in
one jump.
 “Ready,” I said.
 “Are you insane?” Decker looked me over.
 “What?” I asked, hands on hips.
 “You’re not serious.”
 We were on our way to play manhunt. Most kids played
in the dark, wearing black. We played in the snow, wearing
white. Unfortunately, Mom had gotten rid of last year’s jacket
and replaced it with a bright red parka.
 “Well, I’d rather not freeze to death,” I said.
 “I don’t know why I bother teaming up with you. You’re
slow. You’re loud. And now you’re target practice.”
 “You team up with me because you love me,” I said.
 Decker shook his head and squinted. “It’s blinding.”
 I looked down. He had a point. My jacket was red to the
extreme. “I’ll turn it inside- out once we get there. The lining
is much less . . . severe.” He turned toward the door, but I
swear I saw a grin. “Besides, you don’t hear me complaining
about your hair. Mine at least blends in.” I messed his shaggy
black hair with both hands, but he flicked me off the same
way he swatted at mosquitoes in the summer. Like I was a
nuisance, at best.
 Decker grabbed my wrist and tugged me out the door. I
stumbled down the front steps after him. We cut through my
yard and Decker’s next door and climbed over a snow drift on
the side of the road. We ran down the middle of the plowed
road since the sidewalks were covered in a fresh layer of snow.
Correction: Decker ran. I jogged anytime he turned around to
check on me, but mostly I walked. Regardless, I was fairly
winded by the time we rounded the corner of our street.
 When we reached the turnoff, Decker fl ew down the hill
in six quick strides. I sidestepped my way down the embankment
until I reached him, standing at the edge of Falcon Lake.
I bent over, put my hands on my knees, and gulped in the
thin air.
 “Give me a minute,” I said.
 “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
 My breath escaped in puffs of white fog, each one fading
as it sunk toward the ground. When I stood back up, I
followed Decker’s gaze directly across the center of the lake.
I could just barely make out the movement of white on
white. Decker was right. Even if I reversed my jacket, we’d
be hopeless.
 Under the thick coating of white, a long dirt trail wove
through the snow- topped evergreens along the shoreline.
Decker traced the path with his eyes, then turned his attention
to the activity on the far side. “Let’s cut across.” He grabbed
my elbow and pulled me toward the lake.
 “I’ll fall.” My soles had traction, like all snow boots, but
not enough to make up for my total lack of coordination.
 “Don’t,” he said. He stepped onto the snow- covered ice,
waited a second for me to follow, and took off.
 In January, we skated across this lake. In August, we sat
barefoot on the pebbled shore and let the water lap our toes.
Even in the peak of summer, the water never warmed up
enough for swimming. It was the first week of December. A
little soon for skating, but the local ice-fishermen said the lakes
had frozen early. They were already planning a trip up north.
 Decker, athletic and graceful, walked across the lake like
he had solid ground beneath his feet. I, on the other hand,
stumbled and skidded, arms out at my sides like I was walking
a tightrope.
 Halfway across the lake, I slipped and collided into Decker.
He grabbed me around the waist. “Watch yourself,” he said,
his arm still holding me against his side.
 “I want to go back,” I said. I was just close enough to make
out the faces of eight kids from school gathered on the opposite
shore. The same eight kids I’d known my entire life— for
better or worse.
 Carson Levine, blond curls spilling out from the bottom
of his hat, cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled,
“Solid?”
 Decker dropped his arm and started walking again. “I’m
not dead yet,” he called back. He turned around and said,
“Your boyfriend’s waiting,” through clenched teeth.
 “He’s not my . . . ,” I started, but Decker wasn’t listening.
 He kept walking, and I kept not walking, until he was on
land and I was alone on the center of Falcon Lake. Carson
slapped Decker’s back, and Decker didn’t flick him off. What a
double standard. It had been two days since I broke Best Friend
Commandment Number One: Thou shalt not hook up with
best friend’s other friend on said best friend’s couch. I slowly
turned myself in a circle, trying to judge the closest distance
to land— backward or forward. I was just barely closer to
our destination.
 “Come on, D,” Decker called. “We don’t have all day.”
 “I’m coming, I’m coming,” I mumbled, and walked faster
than I should have. And then I slipped. I reached out for Decker
even though I knew he was way out of reach and took a hard
fall onto my left side. I landed flat on my arm and felt something
snap. It wasn’t my bone. It was the ice. No.
 My ear was pressed against the surface, so I heard the
fracture branch out, slowly at first, then with more speed.
 Faint crackles turned to snaps and crunches, and then silence.
 I didn’t move. Maybe it would hold if I just stayed still. I saw
Decker’s legs sprinting back toward me. And then the ice
gave way.
 “Decker!” I screamed. I felt the water, thick and heavy,
right before I went under— and then I panicked and panicked
and panicked.
 I didn’t have the presence of mind to think, Please God,
don’t let me die. I wasn’t brave enough to think, I hope Decker
stayed back. My only thought, playing on a repetitive loop, was
No, no, no, no, no.
 First came the pain. Needles piercing my skin, my insides
contracting, everything folding in on itself, trying to escape
the cold. Next, the noise. Water rushing in and out, and the
pain of my ear drums freezing. Pain had a sound; it was a highpitched
static. I sunk quickly, my giant parka weighing me
down, and I struggled to orient myself.
 Black water churned all around me, but up above, getting
farther and farther away, there were footprints— small areas
of bright light where Decker and I had left tracks. I struggled
to get there. My brain told my legs to kick harder, but they
only fluttered in response. I eventually managed to reach the
surface again, but I couldn’t find the hole where I had fallen
through. I pounded and pounded, but the water felt thick, the
consistency of molasses, and the ice was strong, like steel. In
my panic I sucked in a giant gulp of water the temperature of
ice. My lungs burned. I coughed and gulped and coughed and
gulped until the weight in my chest felt like lead and my limbs
went still.
 But in the instant before everything vanished, I heard a
voice. A whisper. Like a mouth pressed to my ear. Rage, it said.
Rage against the dying of the light.

* * *

 Blink.
 The commanding voice spoke. “And today, she’s breathing
without the aid of the ventilator. Prognosis?”
 “At best, persistent vegetative state.”
 The voices in the background sharpened. “She’d be better
off dead. Why’d they intubate her if they knew she was brain
dead?”
 “She’s a minor,” the doctor in charge said, leaning across
me to check the tubes. “You always keep a child alive until the
parents arrive.”
 The doctor stepped back, revealing a chorus of angels.
 White- robed men and women hugged the walls, their mouths
hanging open like they were singing to the heavens.
 “Dr. Logan, I think she’s awake.” They all watched me,
watching them.
 The doctor— Dr. Logan— chuckled. “You’ll learn, Dr. Klein,
that many comatose patients open their eyes. It doesn’t mean
they see.”
 Move. Speak. The voice, again, whispered in my ear. It
demanded, Rage. And I raged. I slapped at the doctor’s arms, I
tore at his white coat, I sunk my nails into the flesh of his fingers
as he tried to fight me off. I jerked my legs, violently trying
to free myself from the white sheets.
 I raged because I recognized the voice in my ear. It was
my own.
 “Name! Her name!” cried the doctor. He leaned across my
bed and held me back with his forearm against my chest, his
weight behind it. And all the while I thrashed.
 A voice behind him called out, “Delaney. It’s Delaney
Maxwell.”
 With his other hand, the doctor gripped my chin and
yanked my head forward. He brought his face close to mine,
too close, until I could smell the peppermint on his breath and
see the map of lines around the corners of his mouth. He didn’t
speak until I locked eyes with him, and then he flinched. “Delaney.
Delaney Maxwell. I’m Dr. Logan. You’ve had an accident.
You’re in the hospital. And you’re okay.”
 The panic subsided. I was free. Free from the ice, free from
the prison inside. I moved my mouth to speak, but his arm on
my chest and his hand on my jaw strangled my question. Dr.
Logan slowly released me.
 “Where,” I began. My voice came out all hoarse and raspy,
like a smoker’s. I cleared my throat and said, “Where is—” I
couldn’t finish. The ice cracked. I fell. And he wasn’t here.
 “Your parents?” Dr. Logan finished the question for me.
 “Don’t worry, they’re here.” He turned around to the chorus
of angels and barked, “Find them.”
 But that wasn’t what I meant to ask. It wasn’t who I meant
at all.
 Dr. Logan prodded the others out of the room, though they
didn’t go far. They clumped around the doorway, mumbling
to each other. He stood in the corner, arms crossed over his
chest, watching me. His gaze wandered over my body like he
was undressing me with his eyes. Only in his case, I was pretty
sure he was dissecting rather than undressing, peeling back
my skin with every shift of his gaze, slicing through muscle
and bone with his glare. I tried to turn away from him, but
everything felt too heavy.
 Mom elbowed her way through the crowd outside and
gripped the sides of the doorway. She brought both hands to
her chest and cried, “Oh, my baby,” then ran across the room.
She grabbed my hand in her own and brought it to her face.
Then she rested her head on my shoulder and cried.
 Her hot tears trickled down my neck, and her brown curls
smelled of stale hair spray. I turned my head away and breathed
through my mouth. “Mom,” I said, but she just shook her head,
scratching my chin with her curls. Dad followed her in, smiling.
Smiling and laughing and shaking the doctor’s hand. The
doctor who hadn’t even known my first name, who’d thought
I would never wake up. Dad shook his hand like it was all his
doing.
 I worked up the nerve to say what I had meant before.
 “Where’s Decker?” My voice was rough and unfamiliar.
Mom didn’t answer, but she stopped crying. She sat up and
wiped the tears from her face with the edge of her sleeve.
 “Dad, where’s Decker?” I asked, with a tinge of panic in my
voice.
 Dad came to the other side of my bed and rested his hand
on my cheek. “He’s around here somewhere.”
 I closed my eyes and relaxed. Decker was okay. I was okay.
We were fine. Dr. Logan spoke again. “Delaney, you were
without oxygen for quite some time and there was some . . .
damage. Don’t be alarmed if words or thoughts escape you.
You need time to heal.”
 Apparently, I was not fine.
 And then I heard him. Long strides running down the
hall, boots scuffing around the corner, the squeal on the linoleum
as he skidded into the room. “What’s wrong? What happened?”
He panted as he scanned the faces in the room.
 “See for yourself, Decker,” Dad said, stepping back from
the bed.
 Decker’s dark hair hung in his gray eyes, and purple
circles stretched down toward his cheekbones. I’d never seen
him so pale, so hollow. His gaze finally landed on me.
 “You look like crap,” I said, trying to smile.
 He didn’t smile back. He collapsed on the other side of my
bed and sobbed. Big, body- shaking sobs. His ban daged fingers
clutched at my sheets with every sharp intake of breath.
 Decker was not a crier. In fact, the only time I’d seen him
cry since it became socially unacceptable for a boy to be
seen crying was when he broke his arm sliding into home
plate freshman year. And that was borderline acceptable. He
did, after all, have a bone jutting out of his skin. And he did,
after all, score the winning run, which canceled out the
crying.
 “Decker,” I said. I lifted my hand to comfort him, but then
I remembered the last time I tried to touch his hair, how he
swatted me away. Six days ago, that’s what they said. It seemed
like only minutes.
 “I’m sorry,” he managed to croak between sobs.
 “For what?”
 “For all of it. It’s all my fault.”
 “Son,” Dad cut in. But Decker kept on talking through his
tears.
 “I was in such a goddamn rush. It was my idea to go. I made
you cross the lake. And I left you. I can’t believe I left you . . .”
 He sat up and wiped his eyes. “I should’ve jumped in right after
you. I shouldn’t have let them pull me back.” He put his face in
his hands and I thought he’d break down again, but he took a
few deep breaths and pulled himself together. Then he fixed
his eyes on all my bandages and grimaced. “D, I broke your
ribs.”
 “What?” That was something I would’ve remembered.
 “Honey,” Mom said, “he was giving you CPR. He saved your
life.”
 Decker shook his head but didn’t say anything else. Dad
put his hands on Decker’s shoulders. “Nothing to be sorry for,
son.”
 In the fog of drugs that were undoubtedly circulating
through my system, I pictured Decker performing CPR on the
dead version of me. In health class sophomore year, I teamed
up with Tara Spano for CPR demonstrations. Mr. Gersham told
us where to place our hands and counted out loud as we simulated
the motion without actually putting any force into it.
 Afterward, Tara made a show of readjusting her D-cup
bra and said, “Man, Delaney, that’s more action than I’ve had
all week.” It was more action than I’d had my entire life, but I
kept that information to myself. Rumors about me and Tara
being lesbians circulated for a few days until Tara took it upon
herself to prove that she was not, in fact, a lesbian. She proved
it with Jim Harding, captain of the football team.
 I brought my hand to my lips and closed my eyes. Decker’s
mouth had been on my own. His breath in my lungs. His
hands on my chest. The doctor, my parents, his friends, they
all knew it. It was too intimate. Too private, and now, too public.
I made sure I wasn’t looking at him when I opened my eyes
again.
 “I’m sorry,” Dr. Logan said, saving me from my embarrassment,
“but I need to conduct a full examination.”
 “Go home, Decker,” Dad said. “Get some rest. She’ll be here
when you wake up.” And Mom, Dad, and Decker all smiled
these face- splitting smiles, like they shared a secret history I’d
never know about.
 The other doctors filed back in, scribbling on note pads,
hovering over the bed, no longer lingering near the walls.
 “What happened?” I asked nobody in particular, feeling
my throat close up.
 “You were dead.” Dr. Klein smiled when he said it. “I was
here when they brought you in. You were dead.”
 “And now you’re not,” said a younger, female doctor.
 Dr. Logan poked at my skin and twisted my limbs but it
didn’t hurt. I couldn’t feel much. I hoped he’d start the detubing
process soon.
 “A miracle,” said Dr. Klein, making the word sound light
and breathy. I shut my eyes.
 I didn’t feel light and breathy. I felt dense and full. Grounded
to the earth. Not like a miracle at all. I was something with a
little more weight. A fluke. Or an anomaly. Something with
a little less awe.
 My throat was swollen and irritated, and I had difficulty
speaking. Not that it mattered— there was too much noise to
get a word in anyway. I had a lot of visitors after the initial
examination. Nurses checked and rechecked my vitals. Doctors
checked and rechecked my charts. Dad hurried in and
out of the room, prying information from the staff and relaying
it back to us.
 “They’ll move you out of the trauma wing tomorrow,” he
said, which made me happy since I hated my room, claustrophobia
personified in a hideous color.
 “They’ll run tests tomorrow and start rehab after that,” he
said, which made me even happier because, as it turns out, I
was really good at tests.
 Mom tapped her foot when the doctors spoke and nodded
when Dad talked, but she didn’t say anything herself. She got
swallowed up in the chaos. But she was the only constant in
the room, so I held on to her, and she never let go of my hand.
She gripped my palm with her fingers and rested her thumb
on the inside of my wrist. Every few minutes she’d close her
eyes and concentrate. And then I realized she was methodically
checking and rechecking my pulse.
 By the end of the day, several tubes still remained. A nurse
named Melinda tucked the blanket up to my chin and smoothed
back my hair. “We’re gonna take you down real slow, darling.”
 Her voice was deep and soothing. Melinda hooked up a new
IV bag and checked the tubes. “You’re gonna feel again. Just a
little bit at a time, though.”
 She placed a pill in my mouth and held a paper cup to my
lips. I sipped and swallowed. “To help you sleep, darling. You
need to heal.” And I drifted away to the sound of the beeping
monitor and the whirring equipment and the steady drip, drip,
drip of the fl uid from the IV bag.
 A rough hand caressed my cheek. I opened my eyes to darkness
and, to my left, an even darker shape. It leaned closer.
 “Do you suffer?” it whispered. 
 My eyelids closed. I felt heavy, water- logged, drugged. Far,
far away. I opened my mouth to say no, but the only thing that
came out was a low- pitched moan.
 “Don’t worry,” it whispered. “It won’t be long now.”
 There was a rummaging sound in the drawers behind me.
 Callous hands traced the line from my shoulder down to my
wrist, twisted my arm around, and peeled back the tape at
the inside of my elbow. This wasn’t right. I knew it wasn’t
right, but I was too far away. I felt pressure in the crook of my
arm as the IV slid from my vein.
 And then I felt cold metal. A quick jab as it pierced the skin
below my elbow. And as the metal sliced downward, I found
myself. I jerked back and scratched at the dark shape with my
free arm. The voice hissed in pain and the hands pulled back
and the metal clanked to the floor somewhere under my bed.
Feet shuffled quickly toward the door. And as it opened,
letting in light, I saw his back. A man. In scrubs like a nurse,
a hooded sweatshirt over the top.
 My eyelids grew heavy and I drifted again. I drifted to the
sound of the beeping monitor and the whirring equipment
and the steady drip, drip, drip of my blood hitting the floor.

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