Thursday, April 19, 2012

Excerpt of Off Limits

Excerpt:  Megan 

 I take my time getting home from school. I have lots to think about and I seriously don’t want to be interrogated by Mom. Not that she’s being mean when she asks me a ton of questions about my day, it’s just that sometimes I want to keep things to myself. Well, that’s not entirely true. If she knew half the stuff going on with me, she’d probably lock me in my room.

 I unlock the door to our apartment and dump my backpack next to my shoes by the mat. I make a mental note to take it outside by the back door of the apartment building to give it a good shake. Our apartment building is only four stories and we’re on the first floor for obvious reasons. Brown-brick is layered with stained siding making it look dated and in need of repairs. The fact that half of the paint around the wooden windows is peeling screams major makeover.

 “Mom, I’m home.”

 No answer. 

I dart into the living room, feeling my heart thud in dread. No Mom. Skidding down the well-marked hallway I stop at the bathroom door. The door’s shut something impossible to do with my mom in her wheelchair. No privacy in our house for obvious reasons.

 I attempt to open it. No go. “Mom, you in there?”

 Of course she’s in there. I bang on the door hoping to get her attention. Sweat trickles down my back and I feel nauseous. “Mom, I’m coming in.”

 Using my strength I push at the door, slowly moving the old wheelchair out of the way. When there’s enough room for me to slide my body through I do. Mom’s fallen off her chair. She’s done this a few times in the last little bit, but never did it make her go unconscious. My eyes dart frantically around the small room. I absorb stupid details. Her toothbrush is lying beside her with its bristles down on the floor, the caps off the paste, her forehead is bleeding. I kneel down even though I’m shaking with fear. I’m praying with all my might for her to be okay. I know she’s not, but this…this I can’t deal with. The blood is fresh so I’m hoping she hasn’t been out too long.

 Not knowing what to do, I call the one number I think of. The phone rings a dozen times before I hang up. Then I call 911. The dispatcher talks me down and walks me through the scene: where we live, what’s our apartment number, is my mom breathing? Shit, I don’t know. I go back into the bathroom and notice her chest is moving. Relief makes me breathe easier. The dispatcher tells me the paramedics will be there in five minutes. I’m to wait on the line with her. She wants me to listen for the ambulance, like only a freaking moron could miss the wail of the sirens as they pull up to my place. Immediately it’s like I’m a star and everyone is staring at me as I usher them like a madwoman into the building. My face heats with shame as I let the paramedics into our place. They barely talk to me. Instead they make their way to the bathroom, maneuvering their bulky bodies around the old stained banana boxes that are filled with my brother’s things. I follow until they ask me to leave the space to give them room to work.

 One of the paramedics moves the wheelchair up and into the bathtub. Why didn’t I think of that?

 I nod at them as I make my way back down the hall. I don’t realize I have a death grip on the phone until I force my numb fingers to put it down on one of the boxes. A few minutes later they emerge, wheeling my mom out on a gurney. She’s strapped down with a wool blanket covering her all the way up to her chin. There is an oxygen mask covering her mouth and what looks like a portable IV is hooked up to her.

 “Is she going to be okay?”

 “Not sure. Any idea how long she’s been out?”

 I shake my head. This is all my fault. If I didn’t take my time coming home, she might be okay.

 “She’s going to probably need a CAT scan and she’ll be in the hospital for a few days. You want to come along.”

I nod again, fighting the tears threatening to mark me as a cry baby. No way. I make my way toward the ambulance.

“Your Mom going to be okay, Megan?”

 Mrs. Burrows lives next door to us. Normally when I go out I let her know. She’s got a key and likes to keep Mom company. My mom doesn’t really like her, but she was brought up to be nice to everyone so I always use Mrs. Burrows when I know I’m going to be staying late at school or studying at the library. Another layer of guilt eats at me.

I notice Mrs. Burrows is in her gym clothes, blue velour that was outdated a decade ago. Like everyone in the building, she too lives on a fixed income. When it’s fixed you tend to worry more about paying the rent, buying food and paying your electrical and water bills. Clothing becomes fourth rated.

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Off Limits

By Renee Pace



Lindsay looks and acts like the perfect fifteen year-old, but she’s hiding a dirty little secret that no amount of fashionista coverings can make better. Telling her mother her step-father is molesting her is not an option. Trying to kill herself again haunts her more than the scars on her wrists, and pretending to be perfect at school might very well drive her over the edge.

Megan knows all about lying. It's been part of her life ever since she realized the only way to escape her poverty-stricken neighborhood was to work hard, keep her mouth shut and wear a mask no one can penetrate. All that changes when Lindsay befriends her.

Can two girls who have little in common discover the value of a real friendship or will the secrets they dare not speak destroy them both?

Off Limits purchase links:


About the Author:

Renee Pace is a multi-published author who likes to tackle real teen issues in her nitty gritty series. She calls Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada home. Mother of four she juggles writing, deadlines and her children’s hectic schedules. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada, the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia, and the Society of Children Writers & Illustrators. Her first nitty gritty book, Off Leash was a 2011 semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. Her second book Off Limits tackles poverty and sexual abuse, and for her third book, Off Stroke debuting May 2012 Pace writes about young love and prejudice.

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