If you've never been close to death, life probably seems pretty solid. The truth is, it can be destroyed in an instant, like a photograph. One moment your world is slick and shiny. But then the Universe crumples everything into a ball. And even if you don't get crushed, if you fight to straighten things out, your life will never be the same again.
I can't seem to wipe away the blood. I rub my hands against my nightgown, but traces of the red remain, staining the lines of my palms and the crescents beneath my fingernails. I wipe harder, gathering and bunching the soft cotton inside my fists. The fabric has been slit up the center and for a moment I worry that I've been cut, that maybe the blood is my own. I try to ask what's happening, but there's a mask over my mouth and nose. Suddenly it hits me-I'm in an ambulance. I don't remember how I got here.
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Gideon and I sit there in the dark, wordless for a while, only our ragged breaths disturbing the silence. Memories of my sister overwhelm me-I see her impish grin as she leans over me at the orphanage, tugging on my hair until I wake up. I remember us climbing up to the roof as kids, sitting cross-legged next to the herbs and vegetables our caretakers were growing while we read the English books Rose had 'borrowed' from her class at school. And then there was L.A.-all of our hope for a better life so quickly crushed, but Rose never let despair overtake her. She was there after every single night to hold me until the pain went away. And later, when I got numb to it all, she still made a point of holding me, of promising me that one day things would be different.
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If you asked me whether I was the type of person who liked trying new things or preferred sticking with what was familiar, I would have told you I was the second girl. The if -it-aint-broke-don't-fix-it girl. I also would have told you plays were lame. It suddenly occurs to me that I don't seem to know very much about... me. It's a weird feeling, like maybe a stranger is inhabiting my body. Or maybe a stranger was, and I kicked her out.
Once I accepted the fact that I was bad luck, I shied away from group activities. And groups. And activities. I started spending a lot of time in my room, tucked under my covers reading books. There's only so much damage a book can do, and I wasn't worried about hurting myself. Accidentally hurting yourself is way better than hurting other people. Sure, I got lonely for a while. But getting invited to slumber parties just wasn't worth the stress of wondering if I might accidentally burn down the house with my flat iron or be the only survivor of a freak sleepover massacre. And loneliness is just like everything else-if you endure it long enough, you get used to it.
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I remember the big gaping hole left by my dad's absence in the months following the accident. He'd been the one who went to my parent-teacher conferences, the one who taught me mnemonics to memorize the Great Lakes and the Earth's atmospheres. Whenever I did something silly, my dad always made me feel better by telling me a story from the firehouse about someone who had done something even sillier. Sometimes you don't realize all the things a person does for you until they aren't there to do them anymore.
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Rose lived the same life I did, but she doesn't have PTSD. No bad dreams, no missing memories. Sometimes I'm jealous that she seems to deal with everything better than I do. But then I'll catch her with this hollow look in her eyes and think maybe she just disguises everything for my benefit. Maybe she's broken on the inside too.
Not sure how you can get them to him without looking like a crazy stalker chick, " Micah says. "You think I'm a crazy stalker chick?" "You're using an ancient war manual to try to win back your boyfriend. I think you're a girl who will do whatever it takes to get what she wants, " he says. "Hey, at least you're committed.
We wind our way up the spiral staircase and then down the long hallway that leads to his room. I feel almost like I'm watching the scene unfold from outside my body. My fingers are interlocked with his as he pulls me toward a moment that's going to change everything. We are ten steps away. Five steps. I can't decide. But then I do.