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~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?
Something isn’t right here
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.
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.
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!
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.