Monday, January 17, 2011

Fractured (My novel) Chapter 1

Here is the first chapter of my novel Fractured. It is a young adult contemporary novel. If you are an agent, an author, or an editor and would like to see my query or more chapters, please contact me at
Here is my author website
For my readers, I welcome and and all feedback. If you see something you like, dislike, think works well or doesn't work, please let me know. 

Chapter 1

I scan the audience desperately hoping to see my parents’ faces. I feel sick to my stomach at the fact they’re not here.

“Meredith Lyons. Graduating with a 4.0 and full honors.” I walk across the stage and receive my diploma from the principal. In a flash, I am officially a high school graduate. As I am leaving the stage I finally catch sight of my sister Lucy clapping wildly, a glowing smile on her face. My heart drops at the sight of the empty chairs beside her.

They aren’t here.

I bite my lip and close my eyes, fighting back the tears. I need them here, but I feel sick imagining what would keep them from being here. I take a deep breath and plop down on my chair. Sherry Matthews flashes me a glance, brows furrowed as she takes the seat beside me. I don’t want her pity. I saw her throw up on the playground in first grade, went with my Mom to take her and flowers when her grandfather passed away in middle school.

I give her a smile, and attempt to shove the disappointment away. I hang my head, I know I shouldn’t be this negative in the first place; it’s not like anything can be done to change things. Sherry is just trying to acknowledge my pain. I should be grateful that Lucy is here for me, even when my parents can’t be. I take another breath to calm the tempest of emotions washing over me. Instead, I focus on watching my classmates taking their turns walking across the stage.

Finally, a loud chorus of whoops rings out as everyone around me tosses their caps into the air. Numb, I take mine off and hold it limply by my side. My classmates jostle me as they rush to meet their families, but I’m rooted by my seat. Lucy weaves her way through the crowd, her eyes scanning for me. I take a deep breath and put on a happier face.

Between the two of us, Lucy has always been more playful and outgoing; it’s no wonder she is popular. She knows the words to say to make you smile, and make things seem just a bit brighter. However, words fail her now, just like they do me. She does the only thing that could make me feel any better and wraps her arms around me as we walk to the parking lot. Feeling her warmth and support is comforting-familiar.

“You know he wanted to be here more than anything.”

“I know Luce, I know.”

* * *

The ride home is silent. I keep glancing at Lucy and she looks as distressed as I feel. Worry’s tight fist grips my stomach, and I run through all the scenarios that could possibly keep my parents from graduation.

“Mer!” Lucy exclaims. I realize I’ve veered out of my lane, and quickly adjust the wheel. I rub my eyes and glue them to the road ahead of us. The ten minute drive home feels like it takes hours.

We finally pull into the driveway and the sound of the gravel crunching is the best I’ve heard all day. I put the car in park and glance over at Lucy. I sigh, flopping my head against the headrest. I’m not sure what we’ll face when we go inside, and part of me wants to stay here. Lucy gives me a questioning glance but doesn’t open her door either. The silence stretches on until I finally throw open the car door.

We walk into a war zone. The couch is pushed from its normal position, the television blares-oblivious to its non-audience. Draped over the back of the couch is a Congratulations banner missing the ‘tions.’ A handful of balloons slowly float around the room, caught in a breeze made by the ceiling fan. The rest lay on the end table, waiting to be blown up.

“Mom? Dad?” I call out, not really expecting an answer. Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse, I notice Lucy on the front lawn talking on her cell phone. She hangs up as I walk towards her. She takes a deep breath but can’t stop her face from crumpling.

“He fainted this morning, and the ambulance took him to Mercy.” She buries her face in her hands, quiet sobs racking her body. I want to comfort her. Do something. Say something. But what can make this right?

I can only stare, motionless and raw. Nothing comes to mind.

* * *

We race back to the car and I punch the gas. The trees race by and I pass whatever cars I can. I feel like I could puke, I just want for Dad to be healthy again. All the wishing in the world doesn’t seem to help though.

I park haphazardly in the parking deck, and throw open the car door.

“Are you going to wear that all day Sis?” Lucy asks, gesturing to my graduation robe. I’d forgotten all about it. I tear it off and throw it in the back seat. Underneath, I’m wearing a black and red lacy dress and heels. Not exactly normal hospital attire, but nothing is more important than getting to Dad’s side right now.

The hallway leading to the oncology floor drags on feeling like it’s miles long rather than hundreds of feet. The clicking of my heels resound loudly, our double time pace making the sound nearly match my rapid heartbeat.

When we finally enter his hospital room, I throw open the door and run to him, throwing my arms around his neck.

“Daddy!” I exclaim.

I hardly ever call him that anymore, but I feel helpless, like a little girl.

“I’m so sorry I missed the ceremony. Tell me all about it Mer-bear.”

The fear of losing him coats the back of my throat, and I can’t speak. I shake my head and bury my face into his shoulder. Only a parent would ask about graduation while lying in his hospital bed. I hear Mom and Lucy whispering about low blood counts and hypotension from the latest round of chemotherapy, but I can’t focus on anything except Dad’s arms wrapped around me. They feel so different from three years ago; they are thin now where they used to be toned, muscular, strong.

It seems that I would’ve gotten used to seeing Dad in the hospital, but I’m not. It still takes my breath and makes my heart pound. He is weaker than ever, he’s depressed, but trying to hide it.

I shove it all down and lift my head up to offer him a smile. I sit on the side of his bed and the rest of the day passes by in a blur of doctors, nurses and tears.

* * *

I wake up hoping it was all a dream. I glance at the clock. Eleven. Ugh. That means it was real. Graduation has come and gone, and I faced it without my parents. Dad got to come home last night but we all went straight to bed, not bothering to try to clean up the failed attempt at a graduation party.

I stretch and throw on some clothes, determined to focus on my family and not wallow in self-pity. I can clean things up and make it look like our home again. I trudge downstairs, feeling the tiniest bit optimistic at being able to offer something.

“Surprise!” Family gathering in the living room is surely not what I’m expecting. I’m prepared to tackle a mess, not a surprise party.

Dad envelops me in a hug and puts something in my hand. “This is for my girl. I can’t believe that this day is here.” I open the box to find a sparkling silver bracelet. “I picked it out myself. I thought that it would match your eyes.” Sure enough, the tiny sapphires are almost the same shade as my eyes. Eyes that I share with my Dad.

I wrap my arms around his neck. Unshed tears make my throat thick and I can’t manage a thank you. I try to stop my hands from shaking as I pull away. I can’t bear the thought of losing him.

“Your Mom and Grandma handled the party, but I wanted to get something just for you. I’m sorry we couldn’t do this yesterday, but we still wanted to celebrate with you.” We walk into the kitchen to find a huge cake and a luncheon fit for a king waiting for me.

Grandma wastes no time asking about college, which effectively halts the conversation. I’ve been offered a full scholarship, and it’s been an agonizing decision about what to do. I remember the interview like it was yesterday even though it’s been almost six months now. My first question to the committee was about deferring it for a year.

“Why would you want to do that?” I remember the lady with beehive hair and a plaid pantsuit asking.

“Well, ma’am. My father will be starting his next round of chemotherapy soon.” An awkward silence fell in the room as Beehive Lady shuffled papers and cleared her throat, averting her eyes.

“I’m certainly sorry to hear that. You could apply next year, but unfortunately there is no guarantee.”

So Mom and Dad encouraged me to accept. I was really unsure about it. I didn’t want to leave with him so sick and not knowing what his condition will be like day to day-much less having to think that far in advance. They finally convinced me if his condition worsened, I could always change my mind. So I reluctantly accepted.

I snap back to reality and remember Grandma is waiting for an answer. I tell her that I will be starting in the fall as an undeclared freshman. I am thinking of going into Accounting, just like Dad. He has been playing math games with me since I was a kid. Numbers always make more sense to me than words.

That out of the way, I focus on eating, letting small talk wash over me in waves.

After eating, I wander outside. I go and sit on the backyard swing with Dad, the sun shining down on us.

“You know I wanted to be there yesterday, right, sweetie?” He says, breaking the silence.

“Of course, Dad. It’s not like you can help being sick.”

“This latest treatment is just taking so much out of me…”

I feel a pang in my chest at the mention of the new treatment. I’m pretty sure it hurts him more than me that he was unable to come. Mom tries to protect us from the bad news, but I can tell by whispered conversations with Grandma that things are not promising for Dad. Every night he tells me he’s fighting and he wants to pull through. He says he wants to be there for all of the milestones in our lives, but I sense a resignation in him-one that I desperately don’t want to accept. My muscles tense and my head pounds; selfish or not, I want my dad. I don’t want to lose him to cancer.

He snaps me from my reverie saying, “Besides, I didn’t want to make a scene and take the attention off of you like you deserve. I am so proud of you. You know that right?”

“Dad, you only tell me every day. How could I forget?” I nudge him playfully in the side, but regret it, seeing the pain masked in his eyes. “Are you okay?”

“For the moment.” He pauses as if weighing his words. “You deserve the truth, Mer-bear; I don’t think this treatment is working. I’m more tired than ever, and I just feel ready to go home.”

I know that he’s talking about Heaven.

“Mer, I believe in Heaven, you know? I believe that I am going to be with Jesus, and that I will not be in pain. I know that you’ve always had seeds of doubt, and I don’t fault you for that. I just want you to remember that I love you, and that I wish I could be with you always.”

I brush tears from my eyes and hug him, not knowing how to respond. I don’t want him to die, but I also don’t want him to suffer and be in pain. This feels almost like surrender to me. I feel hollow at his resignation. “What happened to fighting, Dad?”

“That’s the thing about fighting Mer, you have to know when to give in, and I have no more fight left in me. I have so much to fight for but no more strength. I want to stop this treatment, and I want to live what time I have left, up and about, not stuck in bed and feeling bad.”

I swallow bile, my stomach sour. “Does Mom know?”

He looks at me, smiling for the first time since we started talking. “Yes, baby. We have been planning a last family vacation. We wanted to spend some time traveling this summer, just taking in the sights.”

“Does Lucy know?” I ask, feeling left out.

“Yes, she needed to get basketball business in order. Honey, we didn’t tell you because we knew that you needed to focus on school, and on graduation. If you would have known, you would have wanted to be home, and your attention would have been further divided.”

Even as he says it, I know that he had kept it from me out of love. I know he is right. I feel helpless, I wish there was something more I could do. I still graduated with a 4.0, but my studies have not been a priority for some time. I didn’t take honors courses or extracurriculars the last few semesters so that I could help at home. It seems like such a small sacrifice in the grand scheme.

I’ve always thought my family was the perfect sort that you see on TV My parents were in love, and although their public displays of affection were embarrassing, they were also reassuring. I knew they were in it for the long haul, and their love for one another carried over to me and my little sister Lucy.

With this idealistic childhood, nothing could have prepared us for Dad’s cancer. In the summer of my freshman year, Dad told us he was not up to taking our yearly vacation, he just needed to rest. Since this was out of character, Mom took him to the doctor. They found cancer. Our hearts broke. Dad suffered through treatment. I tried then like I do now to be strong, to push my anger at the cancer and helpless to fix it down. We got through it, and his cancer went into remission. The relief during that time was like nothing I’d ever felt. Overjoyed to have my Dad back, I spent more time with him, and less time with friends.

I still cry when I remember the day we found out his cancer relapsed. Lucy and I came home to an empty house, which rarely happened. I looked on the calendar and saw Dad had an appointment that day. I heard my heart pounding in my ears. Sure enough, when they arrived home an hour later, eyes red-rimmed and shoulders slumped-they gave us the bad news.

Dad had to go back into the hospital the very next day to start treatment, and Mom started working from home. Since then, we’ve fallen back into an exhausting routine of visiting Dad when he’s in the hospital, forcing smiles on our faces to try and cheer him up. I cry myself to sleep many nights after seeing Dad so sick- hardly able to lift his head, losing his hair or vomiting.

As hard as I try, I can’t bring up the good memories, of him teaching me to swim or ride my bike, throwing me in the air with his strong arms. Hearing Mom working until the wee hours of the morning and occasionally hearing her sobs doesn’t help any.

This all brings the conversation at hand crashing back down. Dread trails icy fingers down my spine. The numbers are against us, and I realize that Dad is getting worse, even if I don’t want to face what that means. The idea of stopping treatment is hard for me to grasp, but I want to honor Dad’s wishes. No matter how hard it is on me.

I tilt my face to the sun, soaking in rays, wishing they would bring me hope. I look over at Dad, whose face is vacant. He too is lost in thought. I enjoy the silence, embracing our time together, seeing it as a gift.

* * *

The next few days, Dad is gaining energy; happier than I have seen him in a while. Time passes in a haze. I’m busy trying to come to terms with Dad’s wishes, packing, and planning. The general mayhem before a trip now has the additional medical concerns for Dad. We have to make sure we have enough medication for the whole trip and map out the nearest emergency room-just in case.

Lucy has a week of training for basketball at school, and then we are going to South Carolina to visit the zoo and aquarium. Even though it’s only one state away, for some reason, we have never visited. We live in small town North Carolina, and a drive to our neighboring state shouldn’t be too hard on Dad.

Before I know it, Monday morning is here and it’s time to go. We settle into the car, Lucy and I in the back, Dad reclined in the front, and Mom driving. Dad is singing Disney songs before we reach the interstate. Lucy digs through the snacks, and I bury my nose in a book. If you looked in on us from the outside, we could almost pass for that picture perfect family of my youth.

©Brandi Kosiner


  1. Hi there... Just wanted to stop by and give you this: Stylish Blogger Award!

  2. I awarded you the Stylish Blog Award. You can read the details here:

    It looks like someone beat me to the punch, though. :) I haven't had a chance to read this post yet, but I will and I'll make another comment when I do.

  3. it had such a sad tone to it, but I liked it. Your protagonist is young and yet mature (probably due to what she is going through). So far the Dad's illness and how she reacts to it is the drive of the story.
    I hope someone gets interested into it. Much luck to you.

  4. Brandi, you made me fall in love with the "picture perfect family"! If only all of us at 17 were as smart as your character Meredith than families might have a better chance of being picture perfect rather than falling apart like so many do... Nice first chapter, already know things go downhill but would still like to find out what happens and how the family copes with the loss to come...

    jackie >_<

  5. Thank you Jackie and Akoss!
    Glad to know it catches attention

  6. This looks fabulous! It's nice to see people writing contemp fiction. I love reading paranormal, but all I'm really good at writing is contemp fiction.
    I like how you threw in background information like looks and family history without bogging the story down. The first chapter left me wanting to know what was going to happen next.

  7. Thank you Alison! It is great to hear there is interest in knowing what happens next!

  8. This is a very good opening. There's an underlying tone of sadness and by the end of chapter 1, you so know something terrible is about to happen.

    Nice work, Brandi. Me likes

  9. This looks amazing; the sadness is so obvious, and I have to know what happens next! And you managed to get the balance of the amount of background info in so I felt like I knew everything, but didn't feel overwhelmed.
    I really, really hope someone gets interested: I really want to find out what's going to happen! I loved it. Good luck! x


I would love to hear from you! (I always try to visit your blog back) I love links, so feel free to link to your blog or a post you like.
Sorry, but I am award and tag free zone, I do not have the time to return. Comments are reward enough :)