My first novel Abandoned is now for sale in paperback on LULU

Casey is sixteen & does not appreciate her parents or her privileged life. When her family moves to a remote old mansion in the countryside, she is determined to rebel. Bored and angry after leaving her friends back in the city she decides to defy everyone, refusing to make friends with the neighbours and determined to be alone. But her bad attitude is about to change. On a woodland walk she comes across a house that looks exactly like her own, but is burned out. It haunts her with terrifying feelings which draw her back there again and again. This begins a rollercoaster ride of fear, sadness and hurt. The house weaves the web which entangles Casey with the boy called Lee and her fated future. Gradually, Casey begins to piece together the sinister clues from her journal entries and sketchbooks that manifest themselves in that house. Eventually they lead her to a terrifying discovery. Can she look deep into herself and mend her selfish ways before she destroys herself and the people she loves?
A review from a satisfied customer:
”I really enjoyed this book, despite being about 20 years older than the average reader of this kind of genre. It keeps you guessing until the end, as there are two stories elaborately woven together, and you’re not quite sure how it’s all going to work out. Highly recommended for a lazy afternoon’s read, especially if you’re a teenage girl with an attitude problem!”
 
Buy it here:
This is my first novel so please, if you enjoy the book, leave a review on LULU and tell all your friends about it.
You can also follow Casey by subscribing to her WordPress Blog here:
She is always happy to discuss teen issues and lots of other subjects. (The paranormal, relationships and human behaviour are three of her favourite topics of the moment!)
For background information and discussions about the issues raised in Abandoned, please head over to the WordPress Blog here:
You can find inspirations used for Casey’s World. Find images of her attic room, clothes and fashion styles, and her art work. See the ideas I used for her woodland area, the burned out old house and her ragdoll, Eliza.
Read Lee’s diary and discover how he really felt about Casey and how the story unfolded through his eyes.
Listen to Casey’s Spotify playlist while you explore!
Look out for the sequel to Abandoned~ The Silent Angels
for front cover silent angels 4
Read the first 2 Chapters here:
© Serena Grey ‘Abandoned~a teenager’s journey of self discovery’  and ‘The Silent Angels~time will tell’ 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from these Blogs’ author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Serena Grey with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Silent Angels. Chapter 1 Scene 1 Rough draft

Squashed up next to Lee in the 4×4 heading out of London, I had one of those bad feelings that sneak up on you out of nowhere, making your heart trip out and your vision turn tunnel white for a second. But of course, I didn’t want to dwell on it. Not after the previous two months of trying to persuade Mum to finally throw away the metaphorical diapers she was still trying to make me wear and Dad to chill the heck out and realise I am no longer his little girl.  I hadn’t seen Lee in so long, I had forgotten how excruciatingly dull my life could be when I was stuck at home and he was at Uni. I wasn’t about to let some stuck up goth called Annabelle swipe all my joy and stuff it into her scarf laden, fringed leather death bag she carried everywhere with her. This was my time. Mine and Lee’s.

I could feel Lee’s thigh radiating delicious warmth through my thin jeans and I could smell his fresh ‘apres’- shower skin scent which comforted me as Annabelle’s horrifying erratic driving threw him against me relentlessly in the back seat. His hand was clutching my shoulder ready to pull me into him at just the right second before he squished me against the side door. Lost in the simultaneous revving and screeching of brakes  and The Red Hot Chili Peppers blaring out of the stereo, was Joel’s voice, cursing Annabelle and her obviously distorted sense of immortality. It made me really pissed that a) she was the only one who had a car and therefore had the power to decide our destiny of death at any point before arriving at our destination, b) she was monopolizing the mood by playing one hell of a boring album over and over again on her stereo, and one which no one else liked judging by Joel’s (futile) attempts to eject it and c) she kept glancing in the front mirror, or whatever the correct name for it is, and checking out Lee. My boyfriend Lee. I tried to sneer at her but she seemed not to notice anything else going on around her. Including the fact that we were hurtling down country lanes at that point, almost overturning into ditches and hedgerows alongside us.

”Anna, for frack’s sake!” blurted Joel in the front seat. He then leaned right across towards her, despite the rest of us being thrown the opposite way, grabbed the steering wheel attempting to turn it, but resulting in a pile of groping hands as Annabelle stuck her ground and revved up, lurching the SUV and almost stalling it.

”Joeeeeeeeeeeel Mackie!” she wailed and suddenly we were at a stand still and silence pervaded. Except the stupid Chili Peppers singing about ‘Californication’. I bloody hate that song.

Lee started laughing and mumbled something about Joel being a dickweed and Joel ejected the CD and launched it behind him. It hit Simon on the side of the head and he cursed before winding down the window and hurling it out into the field. ”At least it settled in a final location!” He mocked the Californication lyrics as it arched into the corn field haze, one last glint on its shiny edge before it disappeared forever.

”You’re both twats. Joel get out and Simon… you owe me a CD. Unless you feel like going and fetching it?” Annabelle twisted round in her seat and glared at Simon, her catlike green goth eyes catching the sunlight, making her look demonic. Maybe she was. I was certainly starting to think so.

Joel remained seated, laughing. He was doing one of those silent laughs that you can’t hear but his shoulders were shaking and occasionally he snorted, unable to contain it. Simon stared out the window, biting the skin around his fingers defiantly. Annabelle made us all jolt by bringing her bracelet clad fist down on the beeper and pushing Joel by his shoulder so hard that he thumped against the side door and a hollow sound of his head contacting glass was heard. Lee was snorting with laughter by then and I couldn’t help it either. Annabelle looked at us through the mirror and glared right at me. Lee didn’t notice, he was leaning over to Simon and trying to flick his ear. Simon put his hand up and told Lee where to go in a ‘making love’ kind of way. Lee winked at me and Annabelle started the engine.

No one spoke for ages. Annabelle drove, slightly slower than before, while Lee kept whispering in my ear and telling me stuff about his friends, like how Simon was always arsy and that Annabelle and him (Simon)had a love-hate relationship. Today they were all about the hate, clearly.

Joel started rustling around in his backpack that was down by his feet, throwing out all sorts of crap before he found what he was looking for. Grinning mischievously he held up a green CD case and triumphantly started flicking through it. Simon tutted and shouted ”Jesus no!” and Lee whispered to me, ”90s Indie every time.”

Annabelle gave him one of her black nail-polished finger gestures as he inserted it in the player. Joel’s head started bopping as the first track began.

A girl consumed by fire
We all know her desire
From the plans that she has made
I have her on a promise
Immerse me in your splendor
All the plans that i have made.*

We trundled deeper into the countryside, the sun making its descent down, tickling the tips of the trees and casting shadows across the fields. Birds flocked and dispersed off in different directions like flecks of black ink spreading across ancient yellowing paper. Peace seemed to settle around us as we all sat in silence, Annabelle sitting statue-like at the wheel, the setting sun spilling an orange glow through the driver’s window, catching the metallic engravings in her bracelets which glowed like tiny lasers. Joel had his knees hooked up on the dashboard, slumped down in the deep passenger seat, a light hum escaping his lips as his head nodded in time to the music. Simon’s face was still turned away, his skinny frame pressed against the door, his cheek resting on his bony knee. He was smoking, the aroma that snuck in through the slightly open window giving me crazy cravings. Lee didn’t like that I smoked, but he knew he couldn’t stop me. He worried about my health. That was Lee, though, worrying about everyone. I couldn’t wait to get there and have a rolley even though I was thoroughly enjoying my close proximity to Lee as we hurtled further and further into rural remoteness, closer and closer to the abandoned building.

”What time does Chlo finish work?” Lee asked no-one in particular. Simon shrugged his shoulders and Joel twisted round, grinning and then sticking his bottom lip out at me. I had to laugh even though his reaction was totally useless. Annabelle stirred out of her comatose state and said,

”9:30. I’m going to fetch her from the boutique. You coming with me, or…?”

Rather than wonder what Chloe was doing at work until that late, my mind went straight to that last sentence. You coming with me or…what was she on? I felt myself stiffen and I squeezed Lee’s hand a bit too tight. He flinched and I felt terrible, almost as if my inflicting a nano second of pain on him would make him leave with her later after all. Her dark eyes were fixed on him through that mirror and she waited.

”Not. He’s not actually.”

Had I said that out loud? I side-glanced at Lee and deduced that yes, I had. He was looking at me sideways as well, a slight smirk up turning his lip, but not wanting to smile too widely as he wasn’t sure how Annabelle was about to react.

”Excuse me?”

Black eyes right on me. I thought she was going to stop the car and get out to deck me, such a glare did she direct towards me.

Silence.

Simon coughed and I heard him light another cigarette.

Her driving got more aggressive I’m sure of it. She wrestled with the gears for a second and said something derogatory under her breath before almost shouting, ”Lee? Are you coming with me or not?”

”Anna..please.” I sensed he felt awkward as his voice was tense and unnatural. ”Let me stay here and sort out the stuff. I can’t just leave Case on the first evening.”

Yes! Lee pulled me closer to him and I melted in. He kissed me tenderly on the forehead and rested his chin on the top of my head, I think he was staring outside at the darkening sky, trying to avoid looking in the mirror.

No one spoke again. Joel kept having weird outbursts of lyric crazy which I think he did to antagonize Annabelle because he would go in with a loud death metal-like attitude, leaning over to almost touch her cheek with his nose before letting rip. Her fingers were tap, tap, tapping on the steering wheel and I could feel her disdain. It reeked in that car as we turned into the entrance of the building. The dirt track had so far been lined with trees, hiding their inner world within the cloak of the dusk clouds. Although it was getting darker, Simon knew where he was and suddenly sat up and directed Annabelle through the open gate, gravel chattering as it flew into the mud guards of the SUV. We crawled down a narrower track and soon a dark shape could be seen in the distance. It was a huge building.

Annabelle parked up and stopped the engine. We all piled out into the cool darkness, our shoes scratching on the gravel as we looked around blindly, trying to see something, anything.

”Where’s the torch, Jo?” Simon asked as he turned and opened the door again, rummaging around on the floor of the car. ”You did put it in didn’t you?”

Joel’s round face was just visible and he looked at Simon alarmed. Suddenly, a blinding light shot across our faces and Joel giggled, making the beam dance all around us, darting onto Annabelle’s blue dreadlocks, Lee’s freckled nose and then onto Simon’s scowling face.

”Give it here you asswipe,” Simon said as he swiped it out of Joel’s hand. ”You are such a tool. Can’t you just do something without the prickness involved?’

Lee sniggered and cuddled me in the dark. Annabelle had already started walking so Simon shone the torchlight straight ahead of us. As we approached the front door, Simon directed the beam upwards and across, giving us a panorama of the building that we would be spending the next week in. To describe it as awesome would not have done it justice. I stared up at it, its Victorian splendor towering over us.

”Welcome to Crowbray School for Girls,” whispered Simon, slowly swiping the torchlight across the arched windows. ”One of the most haunted buildings in rural Essex.”

lillesden school

 

 

 

 

*The Stone Roses~ This is the One

Ok, I admit it. Let’s get down to the bare bones of it. What I am doing now……

 

2013-09-05 18.53.21

I don’t even remember when my last post was.

Instead of trying to retrace my steps back over the last (at least) year and try and catch up, which will be plain impossible, I will just say this:

Presently. Full time job, one evening overtime. Counselling course. Art Therapy diploma.

Say what?

Monday and Tuesday I work from 8:30am til 4pm.

Wednesday I work from 8:30am 5:30pm then go to college for the Counselling from 6pm til 9pm.

Thursday 8:30am til 9pm work.

Friday normal working day.

Saturday lye in, housework, shopping. Evening: Writing for my new book The Silent Angels.

Sunday. College work, writing and chill out.

In conclusion. No time for writing a blog!

Well, I lie. I am currently involved in writing a number of blogs:

Now, about my new novel. Instead of my rattling on about it here, please visit the site:

http://thesilentangels.wordpress.com/

I have also made a site to explore a few other avenues and twists around the Abandoned novelette:

http://abandonedteenagerstale.wordpress.com/

and of course to continue the real life story of Casey, here she is:

http://caseyepapadaki.wordpress.com/

I am thoroughly enjoying this. All of it. Well not so much the work, but that’s another story. One that I don’t want to waste my weekend writing about.

To be continued in the next post….entitled something along the lines of ‘what I wish I was doing now and how can I…?’

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‘Abandoned’ showcased on the Umenow website

Abandoned Cover

Please take a look!

I am trying to promote my novelette on as many sites as possible, as well as getting people to connect with Casey. She now has a Blog on WordPress that I regularly write posts for (as Casey!) and a new Facebook Page where readers can befriend her and interact.

This is the Umenow Website:

umenow.com/book/A-Teenagers-Tale-of-Self-Discovery-Serena%20Grey

Here is her WordPress Blog:

http://caseyepapadaki.wordpress.com/

And her Facebook Page:

http://www.facebook.com/casey.papadaki

See you there!

My Teenage book now on Kindle~reviews please!

I would like a few (hopefully) positive reviews on my book. If anyone would like to read my story for free in exchange for a written review, please contact me. I can send you the script to your email in a PDF or Word document file. ♥

Here is the link to the Amazon Kindle Store where it is currently for sale:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abandoned-ebook/dp/B00A1D1E3I/ref=pd_ybh_1

Image

My Short Story for teenagers ‘Abandoned’ is now for sale on Kindle.

Yes, I have finally pulled everything together and published Abandoned after 3 years of drafting.

I began it in the summer of 2009 while I was living in Salonika (Thessaloniki) in Greece. I was all alone with 2 months ahead of me, trying to think how I could creatively enjoy my time off school as an English teacher. I had always loved writing stories and illustrating, and I had been utilising this passion for my Greek students, making up stories for them to help them contextualise vocabulary that we were learning in class, and how to use grammatical structures correctly. It proved to be fun and soon I was writing more and more for them, which made me really happy as I was encouraging them to read and also to be creative as homework tasks were set such as write your own conclusion to this story.

So I spent a lot of time in my study planning the plot and drawing sketches of the characters. I became utterly absorbed in my new fantasy world and would type away from the hours of 9pm to 4am every night; the balcony doors wide open, a gentle summer night breeze bellowing the curtains and my favourite Rock Radio Station playing  in the background. It was the ONLY time that the city was quiet and cool enough for me to focus so I became a night owl. I loved it!

this is typical of my nightly sky views from my apartment

The City streets where I would walk

it was a very inspiring city for the writer

Thessaloniki will always be my Muse. It’s my heart (kardia in Greek) and soul (psihi) and I miss it terribly.

Here is the front cover of my book. I designed it myself using Photoshop.

The Synopsis

Casey is a spoiled sixteen year old. She does not appreciate her parents, her privileged life or anyone who doesn’t adhere to her beliefs or passions. When her father accepts a post as a village Doctor and they move into a beautiful old mansion in the countryside, she is determined to rebel. Bored and angry to have left her friends back in the city she decides to defy her selfish parents, refusing to make friends with neighbours Lee and Lisa, and determined to spend her days alone.
But her bad attitude is about to change.
It all begins with Eliza. She discovers her punk rag doll under her bed, but there is something sinister about her. This doll is sad and torn and makes Casey uneasy and afraid. On a solitary walk she comes across a house that looks exactly like her own, but is deserted and burned out. It haunts her with terrifying feelings which draw her back there again and again. This begins a rollercoaster ride of fear, sadness, love and self-discovery. The house weaves the web which entangles Casey into a series of events connecting the doll, the boy called Lee and her fated future.
Why does Eliza, her doll, keep appearing in that house?
Who is the handsome boy wearing her favourite t-shirt who hangs out in the burnt out attic bedroom. Why is he petrified of her?
Gradually, Casey begins to piece together the sinister clues from her journal entries and sketchbooks that manifest themselves in that house. Eventually they lead her to a terrifying discovery. Can she look deep into herself and mend her selfish ways before she destroys herself and the people she loves?

~*~

You can read two ‘taster’ chapters on my website:

http://www.birdsbecomefishes.co.uk/storiesforyoungchildren.html

 or look inside the book on the Amazon Website. It can also be purchased here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abandoned-ebook/dp/B00A1D1E3I/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1352313789&sr=1-1-catcorr

Casey’s life, loves and encounters with the paranormal can also be followed on her WordPress Blog:

caseyepapadaki.wordpress.com

I really hope that my first short story resonates with young readers and adults alike.

There are two main themes running through the plot; Don’t judge people on appearances and Every action has a consequence.

Enjoy, and please leave a review on the Amazon site if you are kind enough to purchase it, or leave a comment.

If you haven’t got Kindle and would like a copy of the story, I can send either a PDF file or Word document file to your email address for the same price as on Amazon~£2. 55 ($4)

Please email me (serenajane72@yahoo.co.uk) or leave a comment and I will get get back to you with payment detail.

Bright Blessings to All!

~S~

Abandoned (My Novelette for Teenagers)

I posted yesterday with a link to my website so people could read the first 2 Chapters. Thing is, the link didn’t work! 

So, here it is. As I said before, constructive crit welcome! I hope you enjoy it whatever age you are!

I have always wanted to write for young people as throughout my years of teaching English as a foreign language in Greece, I would write short stories for my classes. As well as helping them with their English, the stories would also be great discussion starters and would allow me to address certain themes prevelant at the time. Relating to my students and their problems and issues allowed me to get them talking through stories about children of their own age and how they dealt with every day life.

That is what I would like to continue, getting to the nitty-gritty of subjects, but in an entertaining and interesting way. Books should be friends~ they reassure people of all ages that they are not alone. They can inspire and comfort, just like Art. I hope my stories do that.

Here is my design for the cover and the basic synopsis for my first novelette. I don’t want to give away much of the story as yet as  I will also include some chapters as tasters for you all to read and leave a comment on in the Blog section if you like! All comments, positive or negative, are very much appreciated as always. Enjoy!

abandoned cover

Abandoned~a teenager’s journey of self discovery.

Casey is a spoiled sixteen year old. She does not appreciate her loving parents or other children who don’t dress like her or listen to the same music. When her father accepts a post as a village Doctor and they move into a beautiful old mansion in the countryside, she is determined to rebel. Bored and angry to have left her friends back in the city, she decides to defy her ‘selfish’ parents completely, refusing to make friends with neighbours Lee and Lisa, and determined to spend her days alone.

But her bad attitude is about to change.

She discovers her punk rag doll under her bed, but it is not the Eliza she made with her own hands. This doll is sad and torn and makes Casey uneasy and afraid.  On a solitary walk she comes across a house that looks exactly like her own, but is deserted and burned out. It haunts her with terrifying feelings which will draw her back there again and again.This begins a rollercoaster ride of fear, intense emotions and self discovery.The house weaves the web which entangles Casey into a series of events connecting the doll, the boy called Lee and her fated future.

Why does Eliza the doll keep appearing in that house?

Who is the handsome boy wearing her Nirvana tshirt who hangs out in the burnt out attic bedroom and why is he petrified of her?

Gradually, Casey begins to piece together the sinister clues that manifest themselves in that house. Her journal entries and sketchbooks lead her to a terrifying discovery. Can she look deep into herself and mend her selfish ways before she destroys herself and all the people she loves?

Chapter 1

Something isn’t right here

June 5th~11.35am

Casey hurled her i-phone towards the pile of crumpled clothes in the corner of her room. Angrily, she chose the loudest Rock song she could find on her MP3 and snatched the earphones from her bedside table. Her best friend Stella wasn’t picking up and she really needed to talk to someone. Closing her eyes, she pushed the earphones into her ears and let herself fall back onto the unmade bed. Loud music always helped her block out the world around her and today she didn’t want to be aware of anything or anyone at all.

She hated the new house they had recently moved into. It wasn’t as much the house itself, just the dread of what she would do all summer without her friends who were now hundreds of miles away. She had already seen the nearest neighbours, who were at least ten minutes walk away, sitting on their lawn listening to severly irritating chart hits. The girl, who was probably a year or so younger than Casey, seemed to her to be a bit dull in her floral dress and silly sandals. The boy, as far as she could remember, was about eighteen although it had been difficult to tell, not having stuck around long enough to catch their attention. There was no way that she was going to waste her time even talking to them as they obviously had nothing in common. She could hear mum’s insistently gabbing voice in her head now,’Why don’t you go and make friends with Lisa and lee, love? Lee’s only a year older than you! And their parents are so nice, they came to welcome us to the village yesterday…’

‘Nice’. How bland. Mum was disillusioned if she thought for one single second that she would hang out with them. It just proved to her that her parents didn’t understand a thing about their own daughter. They were too busy fussing around all Dad’s patients at the clinic and trying too hard to make friends with everyone. What about her? Did they care about her at all? Had they bothered asking her opinion as to whether she wanted to move or not? No. Plain and simple. Anyway, she didn’t need them. She didn’t need anyone.

Her Doc Marten boots felt heavy from trudging around in the woodland behind the house. They had left a muddy, wet line smudged across the pillowcase. She kicked the pillow and scraped her foot along it, spreading the mud even further. Mum would kill her but she didn’t care.

She hung herself over the side of the bed, feeling the blood pumping in her temples. Twisting her head a little, she could just see dim outlines of boxes and junk under the bed, some of the things she hadn’t even taken out the boxes.  Ther was the xbox that her parents had given her when they moved. She didn’t want more things, she just craved someone to talk to, someone that understood her. She flipped over onto her stomach to reach further underneath and suddenly her hand touched something soft, something like wool. She laughed outloud as she pulled out Eliza by her hair. She thought mum had thrown her out ages before they moved, saying as always that she looked evil and manky. But here was the doll she had made all by herself from scraps of clothes and old socks. She pressed Eliza’s dusty hair against her cheek and felt strangely comforted. She sat up and arranged Eliza so she perched, lifelike, on the edge of the bedside table, her striped, lanky legs bent up towards her chest.

‘Hi Eliza,’ Casey whispered, pulling some fluff out of her bright yellow hair, ‘I missed you. I guess it’s just you and me now.’

Casey stared at Eliza’s huge, uneven eyes that were outlined in thick black acrylic paint. She had hated all the other dolls that relatives had given her throughout the years. Stereotypical bodies and faces of ‘beauty’ that everyone was expected to adhere to. She had always prefered the misfits, the ones who were considered ugly for it would be them that came through as the strong ones, the ones who had good hearts and more than one brain cell in their heads.

Suddenly, Casey’s eyes went blurred and a she swayed a little, overbalancing for a second. A feeling of unease gripped her chest as she tried to focus on Eliza. She turned down the volume on her MP3 and shook her head to try and clear it. Kneeling on the bed, she looked back at Eliza and what she saw sent a hot blazing stabbing sensation into her chest. She drew a breath but her lungs felt tight, too tight to breathe at all.

Eliza had moved.

Her legs were hanging down now, but not limply as a rag doll’s legs would. They were bent at the knees, and her head had turned so her eyes fixed on the window. Eliza’s head never moved, it was sewn too tightly!

That was not the worst. Her face had changed. Her mouth wasn’t smiling as it had been when Casey made her. Her thin lips were curled down at the corners, the stitching loose and torn at one end. She had been smiling when she was pulled from under the bed.

Casey had been holding her breath for way too long and let it out with an almost deperate sigh.Something isn’t right here, she realised with dread, gasping as an icy finger slid up her spine. Without thinking any more, she jumped up knocking the bedside table against the wall with a thud, grabbed her bag and almost flew down the stairs, her hand covering her mouth so she wouldn’t actually scream. She was screaming in her head though. She had to get away, as far away from her bedroom as possible.

Casey

Chapter 2

Conflict

June 5th~ 12:30pm

Casey didn’t stop running until she had reached her clearing in the wild woodland at the back of the house. Completely sheltered and isolated by the entangled protection of the trees, it was a silent place that she had come across the day they arrived, wanting to get away from mum. She was relieved that she couldn’t even see her attic window from there. Perfect. She needed to sit down and think. Her head was spinning and she was still feeling really anxious.

Trying to take deep breaths, she kicked away some soggy leaves from under the nearest tree and fell back against the sturdy trunk, lowering herself to the ground. The leaves whispered in comfort as they wrestled and teased each other in the breeze. Emptying her bag out onto the ground, she rifled through the messy pile and grabbed her sketchbook and a pencil. Cross legged, she pressed her earphones into her ears as far as they would go without causing pain and let her music swim its way into her thoughts. She opened her sketchbook and smiled as she ran her fingers over a loosely sketched picture of her best friend Stella sitting on the top deck of the bus, a wide, manic grin on her face. That had only been the previous week on the way back from the cinema. She had been happy then, oblivious to how much of her life was about to change. Not for the best, either. She sighed and flicked the page over.

After a few minutes of staring out into the shady clearing, recalling fun times, she closed her eyes. Without warning, her relaxing thoughts were pushed aside by a vision of an angry looking Eliza, raising her hands with huge claw-like fingers protruding towards Casey’s eyes. Her giant, hand stitched pupils hypnotised and her gaping mouth dribbled loose threads of ragged cotton. Casey snapped her eyes open and looked around her.

Too many horror movies, she thought. I’m probably even imagining that Eliza moved in my room before. It was a trick of the light.

She reached up absent mindedly and pulled at the strand of pink hair that the breeze had blown into her eye. She had dyed it herself and had managed to hide it from Dad so far. He would freak if he saw it. He didn’t like earings or any trace of makeup either. She didn’t really care about the makeup but she would dye her hair as often as she wanted, he couldn’t stop her. She hated looking like everyone else and being labelled because she was blonde. Her grandma was always going on about how pretty she was and that she should wear dresses more often. She hated girly dresses. She hated ‘pretty’. Pretty flippin’ awful, she muttered and screwed up her eyes in disgust.

‘What’s awful?’

Casey’s heart stopped. One of her earphones had dropped out and the shock of hearing a strange voice sucked her back into reality.

There was a rustling noise and she sensed someone was approaching her. She stared straight ahead, not knowing what to say or do next. This was her place, how dare anyone else know about it? And how loudly must she have been talking to herself? This was hideous!

‘Hi’

There was the voice again. Now there was a tall figure standing right beside her, towering above her. Panic was starting to crawl its way up into her throat, but she managed to turn her head and look up. He was about 6 feet tall with a very brightly coloured orange t-shirt on, a grin as wide as the cat in the Alice in Wonderland film, and black spikey hair. She felt her face blaze red. Eyes fixed on her sketchbook, she cleared her throat awkwardly and said hi back.

Then he spoke again. As if he had known her for years or something. Didn’t he sense her embarassment?

‘Sorry, I saw you here and then I heard you say something. I thought you were talking to me! ‘ he was chuckling and jangling some coins or keys in his pocket. He wasn’t at all shy or hesitant. He was one of those cute, confident boys that thought he could chat up anyone and they’d fall at his feet. Yes, she knew all about them.

Plus the fact, he’s laughing at me! Casey realised, her face now burning up with anger. She pulled herself together and started gathering up her stuff which was still strewn all over the ground. He appeared next to her and started picking things up and handing them to her. Casey tried to ignore him, hoping that he would give up and leave. But he didn’t and made a grab for her sketchbook which had been discarded and was lying open behind her.

‘No!’ she shouted and lunged for it, almost over-balancing and falling against him. ‘Give that back, it’s private!’

Silence. For a long time. She shoved the sketchbook into her bag, almost ripping the zip off and clambered to her feet with as much dignity as she could. She turned and started walking, but he was following her.

‘Hey!’ he said, trying to stop her with his hand. ‘Please don’t go. I’m Lee.’

She carried on walking blindly ahead, not realising in her haste to get away that there was no way out of the clearing in that direction. She was getting extremely irritated, as much to do with her own humiliation as her anger at him for just turning up and spoiling her chillout time. She stopped and turned to look at him. He was very tall. And still smiling despite her attempts to put him off her.

‘You must be Casey, right? You’ve just moved into the mansion not far from here. We’re neighbours. My mum works at the surgery with your Dad.’

What? Oh no…I can’t be rude to him then, can I? Mum will kill me. Casey stood there, feeling completely deflated.

‘Just leave me alone, would you, please? I don’t want to talk to anyone, ok?’

She tried not to sound too abrupt. She didn’t want to talk to him, but knew if she really laid into him then she’d be buried by Mum and Dad. His smile faded as she brushed past him, heading towards the narrow gap in the trees that she had entered through. She just wanted to be alone.

‘Ok, you know what?’ he sounded upset. ‘I was trying to be friendly but I really don’t know WHAT your problem is. Be on your own then, it makes no difference to me!’

She heard him mumble something else as she pushed aside the undergrowth, walked through the low tunnel of branches and stepped onto the public footpath. Heading off towards the house again, she flung her bag over her shoulder and dug her hands deep into her pockets. She would have to find another chill place because obviously she wasn’t the only one who visited that clearing.

Soon she found herself on the path home. She stopped as she realised that Lee’s house was the one that she had seen the day before with a long, narrow garden and an old rotten fence at the bottom that the path ran alongside. She would have to be careful as she didn’t want to bump into him again today. Getting her bearings, she took a detour through the woods again and hoped she was at least heading in the right direction. Her thoughts kept returning to Lee. As much as she wanted to push them out, they came back again and again. Why? She had to admit that he was cute, but disappointingly he was a skateboarder judging by his blindingly bright t-shirt and baggy jeans. And yes, she reminded herself, also rude and oblivious to his own lack of concern for her embarassment. And the way that he had tried to grab her sketchbook! The cheek!

No, he’s not my type, she told herself. Not even as a friend let alone a boyfriend. I shouldn’t encourage him either. He’s obviously got a huge ego so this will bring him down to earth a bit.

As she walked amongst the trees, she started to feel better. She knew the woods well enough already to find her way back eventually. Singing along to her favourite song of the moment, she thought about inviting Stella down for the weekend. Mum and Dad would be working at the surgery again on the refurbishments, so they wouldn’t mind. She really needed someone to talk to.

At last, she noticed the wrought iron gates at the back of the house, the ones that looked like they were gradually being engulfed by branches and wild plants. She loved these gates. The previous owners hadn’t cared much about them as they hadn’t cut back the undergrowth and made a path there. They always groaned in exhaustion as she slid through, pleading for some oil for their rusty hinges. Today, though, they seemed older than usual. As she approached, she noticed a huge rusty chain wrapping them tightly together like an oversized snake. She shook the chain but it was well and truely locked solid and it seemed to have been that way for a long time. She backed off a little. She had walked through these gates only a couple of hours ago, maybe even less. What was going on? Had Dad put the chain on? That didn’t explain why it looked so old. She was finding it hard to breathe. The air seemed heavy and thick. Dizziness threatened to overcome her so she leaned her head against the metal of the gate, trying to calm herself and think rationally.

Suddenly, something made her look up. As her eyes focused through the bars and across the garden to the back of the house, she stood upright in shock as she was stunned by what she saw. It wasn’t her house. This house was derelict. Some of the downstairs windows were smashed, glass splinters reflecting the sun like a pool on the back yard. Where were Mum’s pots of flowers? As her eyes scanned the rest of the exterior, she noticed that the brickwork was black as though it had been burned. The once red back door was now a dull brown hanging lifelessly by its top hinge.

It’s not my house. I took the wrong path, that’s all. This is just old and burned out.

Although she almost managed to convince herself, the icy finger pricked her spine and started its terrifying journey up her back. Forcing herself to let go of the gate frame, she turned and tried to re-trace her steps back on to her path home. Her head was now throbbing and she felt disorientated. She had never wanted to see her house and her Mum as badly as she did at that moment. She hadn’t felt like that in a long time.