In a flashback, Mia remembers being snuck into a casino by her Mom and then watching her Mom gamble at a blackjack table. Due to the controlled ambience of the casino, she felt as if only fifteen minutes had passed, though it had actually been an hour. Mia relates her experience in the casino to the intensive care unit (ICU), where it’s also difficult to tell what time of day it is. Mia is hooked up to countless machines that monitor her vital signs, and is attended to by numerous doctors and nurses. Upon leaving for the day, one nurse tells a comatose Mia that she would like to see her tomorrow, which the narrating, out-of-body Mia realizes means that the nurse hopes Mia will still be alive the following day.
While this moment makes Mia think of the casino because of its feeling of timelessness—similar to the ICU—she may also remember the casino for its air of gambling and chance. Much like the odds in a slot machine, the fragility of life and death feels something like a game of chance in the unpredictable atmosphere of the intensive care unit. This feeling of precariousness is underscored by the nurse who tells Mia she would like to see her alive in the morning.
A social worker acts as the link between Mia’s fluctuating condition and her waiting family members. She informs Mia’s relatives that while she is still comatose, it appears that she may be able to soon breathe on her own. Unfortunately, it won’t be known whether or not she suffered brain damage until she wakes up. The social worker invites Gran and Gramps to come visit Mia in her hospital room.
The social worker’s job is to keep Mia’s family informed and up to date about Mia’s condition, but she also serves as a barometer for Mia to know the state of her own physical body. Mia’s out-of-body experience may be related to her physical body’s comatose state.
Though Mia knows Gran and Gramps to be tough people, both of them pause when they see the extent of Mia’s injuries. The social worker notes that while she’s unsure if Mia can hear her grandparents if they speak to her, it is possible that their voices may be soothing to their comatose granddaughter. However, a new nurse, Nurse Ramirez, enters the room and assures Gran and Gramps that “Mia is running the show,” and that it is up to her when she will wake up. Being spoken to, she insists, will help convince Mia to stay alive.
Gran and Gramps know that Mia’s injuries are life-threatening, but they don’t quite comprehend in what grave danger she is until they see her in person. When Nurse Ramirez tells Gran and Gramps that Mia is “running the show,” Mia realizes that while in her current state, one between life and death, she may have the power to decide whether to stay living or to join her family in death.
In a flashback, Mia recalls that while neither she nor her brother, Teddy, were planned pregnancies, her parents never referred to their children as “accidents” or “mistakes.” Both of her parents were involved in the punk-music scene, and married young. Mia was conceived the night of one of Mia’s parent’s friend’s weddings. However, Mia’s parents had difficulty conceiving for a second time, and had given up trying fertility treatments when Mia’s Mom discovered she was pregnant with Teddy. The family had to call off a trip to New York City due to the pregnancy, though Mia didn’t mind since she knew “Carnegie Hall wasn’t going anywhere,” and that she would get there on her own someday.
Though Mia’s Mom and Dad have never been traditional parents, they have always put Mia and Teddy before the excitement of the music they loved in their younger days. Even though Mia is excited about visiting New York and Carnegie Hall for the first time, like her parents, she has no problem dropping everything to do what is best for the new baby’s arrival. Above all, the members of Mia’s family put each other above their personal preferences.