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Dear Reader, I’m the type of person who clings to facts. There’s a certain level of comfort to them, I think. To knowing that the earth rotates once every 24 hours—that the sun will rise in the east and set in the west. Every day. Or that if you hold out your hand and drop a penny, or an apple, or a sneaker, they will each fall to the ground at the same rate. That the freezing point of water is zero degrees Celsius, and that when I go outside in August, I will get sunburnt. And then there are the vaguer facts. Like that a person cannot survive for long without oxygen—the brain will die, and then the rest of her. But these are the stories I’m drawn to: The people pronounced dead, brought to the morgue, who then end up breathing on their own. The person who survives the fall from the 8th floor. Or the plane crash. The person who walks away from disaster, untouched. When I started researching for Fracture, I came across a 1963 article from Time Magazine about a boy who drowned in a frozen river. There’s no evidence to know exactly how long he was there, but it’s safe to say it was quite a long time. After extraordinary resuscitation measures, he seemed to recover, but then relapsed days later. It appeared that his brain had been damaged beyond repair. And then, six weeks later, he began to recover. Almost completely. If people typically recovered from something like this, it would not be news. And even though I am a person who claims to find comfort in the predictable, the expected, these are the stories I am drawn to: the almost-miracles. The flukes. The statistical outliers. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. For all of the surprises in science, I think the brain is the most surprising of all. Recoveries are hard to predict, like the above article exhibits. It’s impossible to tell who will be the one who beats the odds. I had also heard stories about people’s personalities changing after developing a tumor, or after having a tumor removed. Or after an injury. Which, to me, begged the question: which person are they at the core? Or are we all just the product of the wiring in our brains? I want to believe we are more than that. I think it’s that dichotomy—the before and after—that got me thinking about Fracture. If a girl is mostly the same, but slightly not, what kind of impact would that have on a family? On friendships? On her? In Fracture, the change takes the form of something slightly other—but I think the same could be said for any shift. Do the people around them mourn for the person that used to be? Or do they embrace the one that remains? There’s a comfort to being able to predict things. There’s a certain level of understanding, at least, to the expected. And while we sometimes celebrate the unexpected, close our eyes and mouth a silent thank you for the unlikely outcome, it stands to reason that there might be something discomforting about it, once the celebration stops. Like we’ve somehow bent the rules of nature. Broken some law. It stands to reason that no one, really, walks away from disaster untouched. —Megan Miranda


Fracture, by Megan Miranda Excerpt