Wake, p.1
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       Wake, p.1
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         Part #1 of Wake series by Lisa McMann
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Wake


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  CONTENTS

  Acknowledgments

  Six Minutes

  Where It Begins

  And Picks Up Speed

  In Earnest

  Oh, Canada

  Truth or Dare

  What Becomes the Longest Day

  Busting Out All Over

  Glory and Hope

  Fade excerpt

  Janie—The Way Cabel Sees Her . . .

  Crash excerpt

  About Lisa McMann

  This one is for you,

  Toots

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  To my amazing in-home cheerleaders, house cleaners, and editors—Matt, Kilian, and Kennedy—you rock. There would be no Janie without your love, help, patience, and support.

  Special thanks to Dr. Diane Blake Harper, my dear friend and Google-monkey; to Dr. Louis Catron for your kind, priceless critiques; to Ramon Collins for your years of support; and to Tricia, Chris, Erica, Greg, Dawn, Joe, David, Jen, Lisa, Andy, Matthew, Linda, Andie, and Ally for your generous assistance.

  Finally, warmest gratitude to my fantastic agent, Michael Bourret, who believed in Janie and in me, and great praises for a most terrific team at Simon Pulse—Jennifer Klonsky, Caroline Abbey, Michael del Rosario, and all the others who help make dreams come true.

  SIX MINUTES

  December 9, 2005, 12:55 p.m.

  Janie Hannagan’s math book slips from her fingers. She grips the edge of the table in the school library. Everything goes black and silent. She sighs and rests her head on the table. Tries to pull herself out of it, but fails miserably. She’s too tired today. Too hungry. She really doesn’t have time for this.

  And then.

  She’s sitting in the bleachers in the football stadium, blinking under the lights, silent among the roars of the crowd.

  She glances at the people sitting in the bleachers around her—fellow classmates, parents—trying to spot the dreamer. She can tell this dreamer is afraid, but where is he? Then she looks to the football field. Finds him. Rolls her eyes.

  It’s Luke Drake. No question about it. He is, after all, the only naked player on the field for the homecoming game.

  Nobody seems to notice or care. Except him. The ball is snapped and the lines collide, but Luke is covering himself with his hands, hopping from one foot to the other. She can feel his panic increasing. Janie’s fingers tingle and go numb.

  Luke looks over at Janie, eyes pleading, as the football moves toward him, a bullet in slow motion. “Help,” he says.

  She thinks about helping him. Wonders what it would take to change the course of Luke’s dream. She even considers that a boost of confidence to the star receiver the day before the big game could put Fieldridge High in the running for the Regional Class A Championship.

  But Luke’s really a jerk. He won’t appreciate it. So she resigns herself to watching the debacle. She wonders if he’ll choose pride or glory.

  He’s not as big as he thinks he is.

  That’s for damn sure.

  The football nearly reaches Luke when the dream starts over again. Oh, get ON with it already, Janie thinks. She concentrates in her seat on the bleachers and slowly manages to stand. She tries to walk back under the bleachers for the rest of the dream so she doesn’t have to watch, and surprisingly, this time, she is able.

  That’s a bonus.

  1:01 p.m.

  Janie’s mind catapults back inside her body, still sitting at her usual remote corner table in the library. She flexes her fingers painfully, lifts her head and, when her sight returns, she scours the library.

  She spies the culprit at a table about fifteen feet away. He’s awake now. Rubbing his eyes and grinning sheepishly at the two other football players who stand around him, laughing. Shoving him. Whapping him on the head.

  Janie shakes her head to clear it and she lifts up her math book, which sits open and facedown on the table where she dropped it. Under it, she finds a fun-size Snickers bar. She smiles to herself and peers to the left, between rows of bookshelves.

  But no one is there for her to thank.

  WHERE IT BEGINS

  Evening, December 23, 1996

  Janie Hannagan is eight. She wears a thin, faded red-print dress with too-short sleeves, off-white tights that sag between her thighs, gray moon boots, and a brown, nappy coat with two missing buttons. Her long, dirty-blond hair stands up with static. She rides on an Amtrak train with her mother from their home in Fieldridge, Michigan, to Chicago to visit her grandmother. Mother reads the Globe across from her. There is a picture on the cover of an enormous man wearing a powder-blue tuxedo. Janie rests her head against the window, watching her breath make a cloud on it.

  The cloud blurs Janie’s vision so slowly that she doesn’t realize what is happening. She floats in the fog for a moment, and then she is in a large room, sitting at a conference table with five men and three women. At the front of the room is a tall, balding man with a briefcase. He stands in his underwear, giving a presentation, and he is flustered. He tries to speak but he can’t get his mouth around the words. The other adults are all wearing crisp suits. They laugh and point at the bald man in his underwear.

  The bald man looks at Janie.

  And then he looks at the people who are laughing at him.

  His face crumples in defeat.

  He holds his briefcase in front of his privates, and that makes the others laugh harder. He runs to the door of the conference room, but the handle is slippery—something slimy drips from it. He can’t get it open; it squeaks and rattles loudly in his hand, and the people at the table double over. The man’s underwear is grayish-white, sagging. He turns to Janie again, with a look of panic and pleading.

  Janie doesn’t know what to do.

  She freezes.

  The train’s brakes whine.

  And the scene grows cloudy and is lost in fog.

  “Janie!” Janie’s mother is leaning toward Janie. Her breath smells like gin, and her straggly hair falls over one eye. “Janie, I said, maybe Grandma will take you to that big fancy doll store. I thought you would be excited about that, but I guess not.” Janie’s mother sips from a flask in her ratty old purse.

  Janie focuses on her mother and smiles. “That sounds fun,” she says, even though she doesn’t like dolls. She would rather have new tights. She wriggles on the seat, trying to adjust them. The crotch stretches tight at mid-thigh. She thinks about the bald man and scrunches her eyes. Weird.

  When the train stops, they take their bags and step into the aisle. In front of Janie’s mother, a disheveled, bald businessman emerges from his compartment.

  He wipes his face with a handkerchief.

  Janie stares at him.

  Her jaw drops. “Whoa,” she whispers.

  The man gives her a bland look when he sees her staring, and turns to exit the train.

  September 6, 1999, 3:05 p.m.

  Janie sprints to catch the bus after her first day of sixth grade. Melinda Jeffers, one of the Fieldridge North Side girls, sticks her foot out, sending Janie sprawling across the gravel. Melinda laughs all the way to her mother’s shiny red Jeep Cherokee. Janie fights back the urge to cry, and dusts herself off. She climbs on the bus, flops into the front seat, and looks at the dirt and blood on the palms of her hands, and the rip in the knee of her already well-worn pants.

  Sixth grade makes her throat hurt.
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  She leans her head against the window.

  When she gets home, Janie walks past her mother, who is on the couch watching Guiding Light and drinking from a clear glass bottle. Janie washes her stinging hands carefully, dries them, and sits down next to her mother, hoping she’ll notice. Hoping she’ll say something.

  But Janie’s mother is asleep now.

  Her mouth is open.

  She snores lightly.

  The bottle tips in her hand.

  Janie sighs, sets the bottle on the beat-up coffee table, and starts her homework.

  Halfway through her math homework, the room turns black.

  Janie is rushed into a bright tunnel, like a multicolored kaleidoscope. There’s no floor, and Janie is floating while the walls spin around her. It makes her feel like throwing up.

  Next to Janie in the tunnel is her mother, and a man who looks like a blond Jesus Christ. The man and Janie’s mother are holding hands and flying. They look happy. Janie yells, but no sound comes out. She wants it to stop.

  She feels the pencil fall from her fingers.

  Feels her body slump to the arm of the couch.

  Tries to sit up, but with all the whirling colors around her, she can’t tell which way is upright. She overcompensates and falls the other way, onto her mother.

  The colors stop, and everything goes black.

  Janie hears her mother grumbling.

  Feels her shove.

  Slowly the room comes into focus again, and Janie’s mother slaps Janie in the face.

  “Get offa me,” her mother says. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

  Janie sits up and looks at her mother. Her stomach churns, and she feels dizzy from the colors. “I feel sick,” she whispers, and then she stands up and stumbles to the bathroom to vomit.

  When she peers out, pale and shaky, her mother is gone from the couch, retired to her bedroom.

  Thank God, Janie thinks. She splashes cold water on her face.

  January 1, 2001, 7:29 a.m.

  A U-Haul truck pulls up next door. A man, a woman, and a girl Janie’s age climb out and sink into the snow-covered driveway. Janie watches them from her bedroom window.

  The girl is dark-haired and pretty.

  Janie wonders if she’ll be snooty, like all the other girls who call Janie white trash at school. Maybe, since this new girl lives next to Janie on the wrong side of town, they’ll call her white trash too.

  But she’s really pretty.

  Pretty enough to make a difference.

  Janie dresses hurriedly, puts on her boots and coat, and marches next door to have the first chance to get to the girl before the North Siders get to her. Janie’s desperate for a friend.

  “You guys want some help?” Janie asks in a voice more confident than she feels.

  The girl stops in her tracks. A smile deepens the dimples in her cheeks, and she tilts her head to the side. “Hi,” she says. “I’m Carrie Brandt.”

  Carrie’s eyes sparkle.

  Janie’s heart leaps.

  March 2, 2001, 7:34 p.m.

  Janie is thirteen.

  She doesn’t have a sleeping bag, but Carrie has an extra that Janie can use. Janie sets her plastic grocery bag on the floor by the couch in Carrie’s living room.

  Inside the bag:

  a hand-made birthday gift for Carrie

  Janie’s pajamas

  a toothbrush

  She’s nervous. But Carrie is chattering enough for both of them, waiting for Carrie’s other new friend, Melinda Jeffers, to show up.

  Yes, that Melinda Jeffers.

  Of the Fieldridge North Side Jefferses.

  Apparently, Melinda Jeffers is also the president of the “Make Janie Hannagan Miserable” Club. Janie wipes her sweating hands on her jeans.

  When Melinda arrives, Carrie doesn’t fawn over her. Janie nods hello.

  Melinda smirks. Tries to whisper something to Carrie, but Carrie ignores her and says, “Hey! Let’s do Janie’s hair.”

  Melinda throws a daggered look at Carrie.

  Carrie smiles brightly at Janie, asking her with her eyes if it’s okay.

  Janie squelches a grin, and Melinda shrugs and pretends like she doesn’t mind after all.

  Even though Janie knows it’s killing her.

  The three girls slowly grow more comfortable, or maybe just resigned, with one another. They put on makeup and watch Carrie’s favorite videos of old comedians, some of whom Janie’s never heard of before. And then they play truth or dare.

  Carrie alternates: truth, dare, truth, dare.

  Melinda always picks truth.

  And then there’s Janie.

  Janie never picks truth.

  She’s a dare girl.

  That way, nobody gets inside.

  She can’t afford to let anyone inside.

  They might find out about her secret.

  The giggles become hysterics when Melinda’s dare for Janie is to run outside through the snow barefoot, around to the backyard, take off her clothes, and make a naked snow angel.

  Janie doesn’t have a problem doing that.

  Because, really, what does she have to lose?

  She’ll take that dare over giving up her secrets any day.

  Melinda watches Janie, arms folded in the cold night air, and with a sneer on her face, while Carrie giggles and helps Janie get her sweatshirt and jeans back on her wet body. Carrie takes Janie’s bra, fills the cups with snow, and slingshots them like snowballs at Melinda.

  “Ew, gross,” Melinda sneers. “Where’d you get that old grungy thing, Salvation Army?”

  Janie’s giggles fade. She grabs her bra back from Carrie and shoves it in her jeans pocket, embarrassed. “No,” she says hotly, then giggles again. “It was Goodwill. Why, does it look familiar?”

  Carrie snorts.

  Even Melinda laughs, reluctantly.

  They trudge back inside for popcorn.

  11:34 p.m.

  The noise level in the living room of Carrie’s house fades along with the lights after Mr. Brandt, Carrie’s father, stomps to the doorway and hollers at the three girls to shut up and get to sleep.

  Janie zips up the musty-smelling sleeping bag and closes her eyes, but she is too hyper to sleep after that exhilarating naked snow angel. She had a fun evening despite Melinda. She learned what it’s like to be a rich girl (sounds nice for about a day, but too many stinking lessons), and that Luke Drake is supposedly the hottest boy in the class (in Carrie’s mind), and what people like Melinda do four times a year (they take vacations to exotic places). Who knew?

  Now the hushed giggles subside around her, and Janie opens her eyes to stare at the dark ceiling. She is glad to be here, even though Melinda teases her about her clothes. Melinda even had the nerve to ask Janie why she never wears anything new. But Carrie shut her up with a sudden exclamation: “Janie, you look simply stunning with your hair back like that. Doesn’t she, Melinda?”

  For the first time ever, Janie’s hair is in French braids, and now, lying in the sleeping bag, she feels the bumps pressing against her scalp through the thin pillow. Maybe Carrie could teach her how to do it sometime.

  She has to pee, but she is afraid to get up, in case Carrie’s father hears her and starts yelling again. She rests quietly like the other girls, listening to them breathe as they drift off to sleep. Melinda is in the middle, curled on her side facing Carrie, her back to Janie.

  12:14 a.m.

  The ceiling clouds over and disappears. Janie blinks and she is at school, in civics class. She looks around and realizes she is not in her normal fourth-period class, but in the class that follows hers. She stands at the back of the room. There are no empty seats. Ms. Parchelli, the teacher, drones about the judicial branch of government and what the Supreme Court justices wear under their robes. No one seems surprised that Ms. Parchelli is teaching them this. Some of the kids take notes.

  Janie looks around at the faces in the room. In the third row, seated a
t the center desk, is Melinda. Melinda has a dreamy look on her face. She is staring at someone in the next row, one seat forward. As the teacher talks, Melinda stands up slowly and approaches the person she’s been staring at. From the back of the room, Janie cannot see who it is.

  The teacher doesn’t appear to notice. Melinda kneels next to the desk and touches the person’s hand. In slow motion, the person turns to Melinda, touches her cheek, and then leans forward. The two of them kiss. After a moment, they both rise to their feet, still kissing. When they part, Janie can see the face of Melinda’s kissing partner. Melinda leads her partner by the hand to the front of the room and opens the door of the supply closet. The bell rings, and like ants, the students crowd at the door to leave.

  The ceiling in Carrie Brandt’s living room reappears as Melinda sighs and flops onto her stomach in the sleeping bag next to Janie. Cripes! thinks Janie. She looks at the clock. It’s 1:23 a.m.

  1:24 a.m.

  Janie rolls to her side and she’s walking into a forest. It’s dark from shade, not night. A few rays of weak sunlight slip through the tree cover. Walking in front of Janie is Carrie. They walk for what seems to be a mile or more, and suddenly a rushing river appears a few steps in front of them. Carrie stops and cups her ear, listening for something. She calls out in a desperate voice, “Carson!” Over and over, Carrie calls the name, until the forest rings with her voice. Carrie walks along the high bank and stumbles over a tree root. Janie bumps into her, falls, and then Carrie helps her up. She gives Janie a puzzled look and says, “You’ve never been here.” Carrie turns back to her search for Carson, her cries growing louder.

  There is a splash in the river, and a little boy appears above the surface, bobbing and moving swiftly in the current. Carrie runs along the bank and cries, “Carson! Get out of there! Carson!”

  The boy grins and chokes on the water. He goes under and resurfaces. Carrie is frantic. She reaches out her hand to the boy, but it makes no difference—the bank is too high, the river too wide for her to come close to reaching him. She is crying now.

 
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