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Authors: Chrissie Keighery

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Whisper

BOOK: Whisper
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BY
C
hrissie
K
eighery

Whisper
published in 2011 by
Hardie Grant Egmont
Ground Floor, Building 1, 658 Church Street
Richmond, Victoria 3121, Australia
www.hardiegrantegmont.com.au

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means without
the prior permission of the publishers and copyright owner.

A CiP record for this title is available from the National Library of Australia

Text copyright © 2011 Chrissie Keighery
Design and illustration copyright © 2011 Hardie Grant Egmont

Cover illustration by Emma Leonard
Designed and typeset by Stephanie Spartels

Author Dedication:
To Melissa Thurgood, the truest person I know.
My bestie by osmosis.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

CHAPTER 30

CHAPTER 31

AUTHOR'S ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

chapter 1

Making wishes is for kids – and idiots. I should be able to stop myself, since I'm not a kid anymore. Or an idiot.

But I can't help it. I make wishes, even though it's a bit like bungee jumping. You've got to be crazy to jump off a bridge. Crazy enough to believe that a rubber band will save you even though you are hurtling towards the rocks below.

I've decided I can't keep doing it to myself. So here I am.

I take a deep breath as I get on the tram. Someone stands up to get out at the next stop. I try not to blink as I make my way through the crowd towards that spare seat.There's a wild element to the tram's swaying. A possibility of derailing.

I force the thought out of my head. I will control myself.
Focus
.

I don't realise until I sink into the seat that I've been holding my breath. I breathe out shakily.

My seat faces backwards and it's too far away from the door. But I can't think about it. Maybe if I distract myself by looking at the other passengers I won't freak out.

There are rows of arms reaching up to swaying handles hung from the steel rail. I can see the open pores on an old man's nose. The square of a wallet in a boy's drooping back pocket.

At each stop the tram adds more passengers than it subtracts. Three schoolgirls get on. They look about my age. Their blazers are purple and so are the ribbons in their hair.

One girl's hair reminds me of a horse's mane. It falls in a ponytailed clump, and looks like it would be coarse to the touch. Her face is long too. I imagine how her voice might sound, though her lips are sealed in a no-seats-available pout. Maybe she would whinny? Bray?

She looks me up and down, sees the new uniform I am wearing. She knows where I'm going.

I meet her eyes when they're at the final stages of checking me out. My heartbeat quickens. I look away.I wouldn't have done that before. I would have met that stare, and held it. I would have checked
her
out the same way she's checking me out.

Now I let it go. Anything not to draw attention to myself.Anything not to let the panic take over.

Her friends have their iPods out. I squeeze my eyes shut, blocking out the memories. I loved my iPod. I used to scroll through mine for the perfect song for any given moment.

Unless Nadia has updated it, my music would be completely out of date now. But what do I care?

When I open my eyes again, I'm glad to see the girls have moved down the tram, away from me.

A man in a grey pinstriped suit stands in front of me.The tram's crowded, but I'm not sure he needs to be that close. The fabric of his suit makes contact with my knee and lingers there. I move my legs away sharply.

He looks down at me. The smile he gives is an embarrassed one. It's an apology, and I can see he hopes I know it was just circumstance. That he hadn't meant to be sleazy. His eyebrows lean together and the creases around his eyes soften as his lips mouth sorry.

It's easier to cut through all the crap, all the mixed messages, when people have wrinkles around their eyes.Jules told me that, and he was right as always. It's other teenagers that are the hardest to read.

I feel bad about jerking my knees away. I should have waited, should have read his intentions on his face, in his posture. Jules has taught me well and I'm getting pretty good at it. It must be the nerves.

My phone vibrates. I realise I've been clutching it the whole time, like a lifeline. It's a text from Nadia.

2day is the 1st day of the rest of yr life.

Good luck xx.

My throat closes up, even as I roll my eyes. Normally I hate that type of platitude. The smiley face should be enough to make me puke.

But there's nothing to puke. There's a giant, hollow space in my guts and it's not just because I couldn't eat breakfast.

I stare at Nadia's message. I won't delete it. We've been through so much together. She's forgiven me. I think I've forgiven her. I don't think she would ever suspect that she's on my private list of reasons. The list of reasons that led to me being on this tram, going backwards or forwards or wherever the hell I am going.

I text back.

Thnx nads.

It takes me a while, but I add two kisses. And then two more:xxxx. She'll be surprised by that. It's almost like the row of kisses is a link between the life I am leaving behind and the unknown ahead.

I have a sudden urge to get up, to jump off the tram and run back. To forget this whole idea. Even though my life was going wrong, at least it was a wrong I knew.

My breathing has become shallow and fast again, but I won't let the panic take control.

It's my stubbornness that keeps me planted. Or maybe it's because Horse Girl and co are blocking the door and I don't trust my legs to get me past them. I want to send my legs a message, to warn them that I need them to be strong.

My phone jumps around in my hand again.

Just be your beautiful self, Demi. And remember, nothing is irreversible xx Mum.

She's good, Mum. She seems to be able to hitch a ride on my doubts even when she's not with me.

The message almost makes me laugh. She's still having a go, even now, after the decision has been made! At least I know where my stubbornness comes from.

I look out the window. I force myself to reply.

Ta mum. I'll be fine.

As my thumb hovers over the send button, I feel flimsy, unsure. I have a silly hope that writing the words might actually make them true. I don't add any kisses. Mum can turn a lifeline into a chain.

I look back at her text. It's not true, what Mum's written – some things
are
irreversible. And there's no point wishing what happened didn't happen.

I learnt that a year and a half ago. When I went deaf.

chapter 2

You never think, when you're fourteen and a half, that something like this might happen. I was sick, sure. It was a terrible flu, yeah, but it was just the flu. Then my temperature went mad.

I lay in my sweat-soaked sheets, too weak to move.My head hurt so much that I couldn't speak, and anyway I was too tired to call out. Why was the sliver of light coming through the gap in the curtains so bright it stung my eyes? When Mum came to check on me, her face was ragged with worry.

I remember lying in the back seat of the car, though I'm not sure how I got there. I remember wondering why my mum, usually such a control freak, was letting me loll around without a seatbelt. But most of all I wondered why the bones in my skull felt like they were pushing on my brain.

Then I was on a stretcher, being wheeled along a corridor. But it was like it was happening to someone else.Like I was watching TV and the patient looked a bit like me. I remember wondering if Dr McDreamy would soon be feeling my forehead. But there was no Dr McDreamy,only an old doctor with a bad comb-over. Before I slipped out of consciousness there was a little surge of disappointment about that.

I dreamt Mum and I were in the car and we were sinking into quicksand. I was struggling to open a door, a window, anything, to get out. But the quicksand was all around and nothing would open. I felt the panic overwhelm me as I realised we would die. While I gasped for air Mum turned around to me in the back seat.

‘Calm down, Demi,' she said in her no-nonsense voice.

‘We
will
get out.'

But there was no way out and the quicksand was rising.

Then I was free, somehow, flying in the air and breathing again and when I looked down there was a string that led from my body down to Dad, a tiny dot on the ground. It was as though I was a kite he was flying. He pulled me towards him and I landed in the narrow hospital bed.

I was pretty sure I wasn't still dreaming because Flawless was sitting beside me, looking perfect as always. I wanted to ask her where the boys were, my beautiful little nephews.I wanted them there. But just the effort of opening my eyes exhausted me and made my head hurt even more and I fell back asleep.

The next time I woke I'd been turned on my side and there was something being pushed into my spine. A needle, maybe. Dad was holding my hands, as though he were trying to grab hold of my pain, to take it on himself.His eyes were liquid.

I wanted to yell at him to wipe away the tears because dads don't cry. And anyway, I needed to see his eyes properly.I thought they might have the answers to what on earth was going on. But still I couldn't speak. Even his hands holding mine couldn't keep me there, and I drifted away again.

BOOK: Whisper
10.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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