Chapter 1: Why are you in this place?
Beep. Beep. Beep.
The heart monitor resonates in her head. It lulls her into a state between alert and dead to the world and the other sounds fade into a haze. Her back rests against the hard hospital chair, but that doesn't even register in her mind, as she's in such a stupor. The events of the past week don't register either. All she remembers is a blur of phone calls, and seeing a familiar face once again. Now that familiar face, her brother Derek, lies in the hospital bed, and she wonders why he's there, what crime could be so horrible as to put him there. Though the girl, 12 years old, is too young to completely understand, she knows that he put himself there, that it wasn't a cruel twist of fate. She knows this, but her image of her brother isn't shattered, he's still her guardian angel.
She's nearly asleep, when a voice breaks her out of her trance. "Danielle?"
He's awake. She jerks to her senses, and looks up at him. The tears in her eyes don't get past him. He attempts to stand, but he's attached to too many machines, which pull him back down. He doesn't remember what happened right away, but in time it comes back to him.
He opens his voice to speak, but he's not sure what to say. He forces himself to say something, anything, and what comes out is, "I'm so sorry."
"I know." Danielle replies shortly. "But I don't want you to apologize. All I want you to do is to tell me everything, and be completely honest. Nobody will tell me exactly what's going on."
Derek sighs, but looks in her eyes, and he sees that she's ready to handle the truth. That she's been ready, but no one will give her that chance. He sees the wisdom in her eyes that goes beyond her age, and he realizes that she deserves to know, though his parents will be furious.
"Come here, baby girl." He says, patting a blank piece of mattress next to him. She obediently gets up and sits on the bed. Her legs dangle off the bed, and her innocence brings tears to her brother's eyes. "What do you want to know?"
"What happened? Why are you in this," she waves her hand around vaguely, "place?"
He hesitates but it's not like he didn't expect this inquiry, and he begins to pour out his heart. "Okay… Do you know what cocaine is?" When she nods he goes on. "I started snorting it about a year ago. The first time I did it, I fell in love with it. At first it was the most amazing feeling in the world. I did it again and again, promising myself I would stop before it was too late, but I didn't. I guess I couldn't. I was hooked, and I didn't know how to stop."
Danielle is in shock. Her brother, the straight-A student, every parent's dream child, doing drugs? It's unthinkable. She waited for him to say this was all a joke, but she knew that wouldn't happen. Part of her mind has seen this coming for a long time. Someone can only remain perfect for so long before it all falls apart.
They sit like that all night, with him telling her about his addiction, then later his heart attack. He tells her that when the school found him snorting cocaine in the bathroom of his chemistry lab and called the police, he ran before they could get there. He spent the next three days living on the streets, sleeping in his car and fiending for something, anything to bring him back up from the worst down he had ever experienced. When he finally got his hands on some coke, he was so desperate that he snorted double the amount that he was used to doing. He was found on the side of the road an hour later, passed out, taken to the nearest emergency room, and diagnosed with a heart attack induced by overdose of cocaine. He finishes with "and that's why I'm in this…place"
When Derek is finished with his story, brother and sister are both sobbing. "That's enough talking for tonight," Derek says and they hold each other until their sobs subside and they both are asleep.