First Excerpt

So I figured I’d go ahead and show the first few pages in my WIP entitled Second Chances. It’s a contemporary with a mild paranormal element. Hope you enjoy!

My name is not Meredith. That should have been the first clue.


“Meredith, time to get up,” my mother repeats. I imagine a hand firmly placed on her hip, her blue eyes staring me down. I moan. “I don’t have time for this!” She exclaims.


Without bothering to offer a warning, my mother (whose voice, I realize, is different), pulls back a curtain to let in a rush of light. The light is sharp, with a stinging quality. It’s impossible to keep my eyes closed.


So they open.


And my immediate thought is: This is not my room.


And this woman is not my mother.


Apparently, though, the woman doesn’t find my confused expression funny. She pulls off the blankets, believing it is Meredith that’s grabbing for the warmth of her covers.


My name is Hana, I want to say. Not Meredith.


My throat is paralyzed though. I try to piece together the events of last night—the rain, the lights, the screams—it all fills me with an overwhelming sense of panic and confusion. I spot an adjoining bathroom, and I rush towards it without a word, making sure to close the door behind me.


“Meredith, are you okay?” I hear the woman call. I would have corrected her this time. I would have demanded she stop calling me ‘Meredith’, except the image before me leaves me breathless. I am no longer looking at a tall, slender 16-year-old, with blue eyes, and straight blond hair. That girl had confidence. That girl knew who she was and where she was headed. The girl before me is heavier, with frizzy brown hair and light brown eyes. Her skin is slightly tanned, with freckles splattered across the cheeks. Meredith.


For a few moments, I don’t believe what I’m seeing. I’m crazy, I’m crazy, this is crazy. But then I remind myself that this bathroom is unfamiliar, and the woman’s voice is unfamiliar. I have no idea when or how I got here, which scares me. I can’t help myself. I feel a pressure rise in my chest, and proceed to let my legs drop by the toilet. Without thought, vomit comes up and I hear the hurling noises fill the room.

“Meredith, honey, are you sick?”


“I—I’m fine” I breathe the lie. “Just a stomach bug.”


This is more than a simple stomach bug.


I can feel, and see, my body tremble. Everything feels so real. I can’t quite shake off the influx of thoughts that threaten to shatter me, but I tell myself perhaps this is a dream. I’ll wake up and find it all terribly funny. Just a dream. My breathing slows at the thought. Dreams had a tendency to feel real. They also had a tendency to be a bit on the weird side. This has to be a dream. Pretty soon, I’ll wake up, image having to live the rest of my life in a different body, and laugh.


Only now I don’t feel like laughing. I feel a collection of tears brim and blur my vision. At least, this way, I can’t see my reflection properly and I can image it was just a fluke, a momentary lapse in sanity where my brain saw something that wasn’t true, something that wasn’t there. I then lift up a strand of hair and bring it in front of my face for inspection. It’s curly. And brown.


“Mother” knocks on the door again. “Maybe you should stay home then. Get some rest?” That’s not a bad idea, I think.




And then it hits me: where is my body?


“I think I’ll need to stay home today.” I say it with more conviction.


There’s a pause, a void that I fill by listening to my breath. In and Out. Then “mother” hesitantly responds.


“Alright, then. I’ll try and schedule an appointment with the doctor this afternoon.”


“NO!” I yell. “I mean, I—I don’t think it’ll be necessary.” The last thing I need is to be scrutinized by a know-it-all physician. How was I to explain that my name is not Meredith, that this isn’t my body? I would probably be considered insane and carted off the to the nearest asylum for evaluation. And if there was one thing I knew, it was that I was quite sane (thank you very much).


Another pause, and honestly, I’m glad for the silence. When “mother” says “okay”, and I her footsteps fade, I relish in the moment to recollect my thoughts.


One: I am not in my body.


Two: This is not my home.


Three: I need to find out what happened last night, what happened to my body.


It’s crazy, I know. A part of me refuses to accept the first two facts, but how can I not when the evidence surrounds me? Something isn’t right. I need answers. I need to know what happened, and I need to know more about the life I now inhabit. I let out a breath and turn on the water. The sound of it running is soothing, and I gather the liquid in my cupped hands and splash it on my face. The water keeps running. I look up at the mirror once more, hoping to be mistaken, but the same brown-haired girl is looking back. No illusion. It feels strange, trapped in a body that isn’t mine.


I feel my stomach twist, as if I’m rejecting this new life, and body, I’m suddenly inhabiting. For a few seconds I hover, waiting for more bile to come. Nothing does. So I take an empty glass by the sink, fill it with water, and rinse out my mouth. I gargle, spit, and repeat.


Then I turn off the faucet and leave the room. I can still taste the vomit in my mouth. Maybe some juice will help.


As I make my way out of the room, I take note of the plain white walls, the family portraits in the hallways, and the utter simplicity of the room I left behind—a desk, a bed, a bookshelf, and a few stuff animals. No posters hanging on the wall, no huge stereo, and no personal TV (a luxury I am not sure I’ll be able live without). I’m on the second floor of the home, I realize, when the hallway leads me to a set of stairs. I head down, lured by the sound of the TV blasting. The stairs lead to the living room where a man, who I presume to be my –no, Meredith’s—father is sitting in the armchair, watching news. He looks up at me and furrows his brow. “You mother said you were sick…”


I nod. In a way, you could say I was sick.