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Excerpt

Excerpt

My Last Kiss

1

 

IT’S SNOWING OR MAYBE it’s raining … no, it’s snowing. I can feel the wet flakes gathering in the corners of my eyes, melting down my cheeks like tears. The warmth from the sun I felt on my face only an instant before is gone. When I blink, the only things I see are blotchy white bits of trees and clouds and lights. Where are those lights coming from? I stumble onto my feet and my legs feel Jell-O-y, like I’ve been swimming for a really long time and now the ground feels too rigid.

I take one step and suddenly my whole body stings. I fall to my knees and clutch my middle. The worst pain I’ve ever felt invades my limbs, like when your foot falls asleep except it’s my entire body and it’s epically stronger. I’m screaming and gripping my sides, writhing in the fluffy white snow. And then the pain stops; as fast as it came, it stops. Filled with relief, I do a quick once-over of my body. I even pinch my arm to check if I’m dreaming. How dumb is that?

I manage to open my eyes enough to see a silhouette standing above the waterline among the trees in Dover Park. He—at least I think it’s a he—is staring at me, but not at me, me. He’s staring at the bloody, twisted mess of me on the rocks along the riverbank.

Why are there two of me?! And how did I get in the river?

I run toward my Other, mangled body. I must be having a nightmare—but it’s like there’s a force field around me. I sort of melt into the air, then get flung back. I land on my butt in a massive snowbank at the water’s edge, waiting to feel the cold from sitting in waist-deep snow.

A jagged chunk of ice floats by, sparkling in the early-morning moonlight.

I still haven’t felt the cold.

The silhouette is talking now. I hear him, but the words are muffled as if he’s talking underwater. I press my hands to the sides of my face and squeeze my eyes shut, concentrating. His voice comes clearer … He’s telling me he didn’t mean to.

Mean to what?

Now he’s telling me this isn’t how it was supposed to go. This is her fault.

Is “her” me?

I open my eyes to check if he’s talking to me, me. He’s not. I look at my Other body, broken and folded in ways a body should never bend over a mound of gray rocks. In one of my Other hands I’m holding something, maybe a piece of paper, but I can’t see it clearly. Snow piles high again around my eyes and my cheeks and now on my shoulders. It comes down, harder and harder, until I feel buried in it. I can’t even see it and I’m buried in it so deep that I can’t breathe.

Slowly a thought creeps in, settles in the front of my mind. It tugs at something I feel like I know but can’t quite remember. I open my mouth to speak it, but I don’t see my breath the way I should in early March. I glance up at the silhouette. He’s crying or maybe he’s yelling; either way, I can see his breath.

I’m not breathing. I don’t need to. The words float past my lips like a rehearsed chorus: “I’m dead.”

 

Text copyright © 2014 by Bethany Neal

My Last Kiss
by by Bethany Neal

  • Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Young Adult 12+
  • hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
  • ISBN-10: 0374351287
  • ISBN-13: 9780374351281