Sharing Chapter 1 of “Giving Up the Ghosts”

Candle wick burning.

Image via Wikipedia

Since I decided to take the plunge and self publish, and today is Fiction Friday over at the Domestic Fringe, and I am trying to get on the road quickly so I shouldn’t stop to write, I thought I would share the first chapter of the book for middle-grade readers. Enjoy!

CHAPTER 1:
SECRETS REVEALED

 

T

he finished basement took on an eerie silence as Andie watched Brittany strike a match to begin the séance. Sleeping bags, pillows, and ten young bodies cast strange shadows on the walls in the flickering candlelight. Several of the girls shifted and giggled as the air started to feel heavier.

“Quiet,”Brittanyordered. “We have to be serious.”

Accustomed to following Brittany’s every word, the girls settled down with nervous glances at one another. Andie wondered if any of the girls really believed in ghosts. Andie was sure that Brittany didn’t believe in anything supernatural or anything that involved the imagination. Andie and Brittany played together all the time when they were little girls. They often held tea parties with “imaginary” friends. What Brittany didn’t know, however, was that the friends were not imaginary—at least not to Andie. There were always one or two ghosts hanging around with the girls that only Andie could see. The ghosts played games, sang songs, asked questions and pretended they were as alive as the two little girls. Andie told Brittany stories of whatever the ghosts were doing, but Brittany always thought it was just Andie’s great imagination.

When they turned twelve, Brittany decided that playing with invisible playmates was no longer cool, and that boys were much more interesting.

“You are like a little baby playing with imaginary friends,” she told Andie one day. “I have more important things to think about. I think Steven is so cute.”

Andie had no interest in boys at that point. Brittany drifted away and went on to form a new group of friends. This group, known as The Circle, eventually led the school. Andie soon had nobody but her ghosts.

Andie had not been invited to one of Brittany’s beginning-of-school sleepovers since Brittany had become so popular. For some reason, Brittany had decided it was time to give Andie another chance. Every year Brittany tested one girl to see if she was worthy of joining The Circle. It was hard to pass the test. Andie was determined to succeed because popularity would make her sophomore year in high school much better, and she was tired of only having incorporeal friends.

So here Andie was, sitting at a séance, watching a ghost form in the corner and wondering if she dared to say anything to the other girls. They’ll just think I’m still playing with imaginary friends, she thought, so I’m not going to tell them the truth. I don’t want to screw this up.

Using her spookiest voice, Brittany began, “Eeef theeeere is anyone heeere who wants to talk to uuuusssss, please give us a siiiign.”

Nothing happened. At least nobody but Andie realized what was happening. She watched as the silvery shape she had noticed earlier took form in the darkest corner of the room. At first a dim blob, it finally emerged as the image of a girl about Andie’s age, wearing an old-fashioned, floor-length nightgown.  Andie sneaked glances at the other girls to see if they noticed the ghost. As usual, she seemed to be the only one who was able to see anything otherworldly.

“Is there aaaanyone heeeere who wishes to speak to uuus?” Brittanyasked.

The ghost wandered over to stand behind Courtney and said, “Hello, I’m here.”

Andie heard the statement clearly, or as clearly as one can when a ghost is talking, which sounds like an echo from a deep well. Courtney, sitting next toBrittany, started giggling and asked, “Did you just blow in my ear?”

“It’s windy outside. You probably felt a draft through the window,” Brittany said, “Everyone should ask a question. Maybe a ghost will respond to someone else.”

Obedient as always, the other girls took turns seeking some connection with the spirit world. Andie had to bite her lip to keep from laughing as the playful girl ghost responded in ways that the other girls could almost hear or feel, but decided to pass off as imagination. The spirit wandered from girl to girl, whispering, playing with their hair, touching their arms. The girls twitched and itched, but couldn’t seem to recognize the signs of a ghost.

“If you are here, knock on the wall,” Courtney suggested.

The ghost knocked, startling everyone.

“My stupid brother must be spying on us,” Brittany said, jumping up to open the door leading upstairs. Of course nobody was there. “Leave us alone, dork!”Brittanyyelled, “Stay away from this room!”

The teenage ghost started being even more mischievous, blowing on necks, causing goose bumps, and pinching arms and cheeks. She stood behind Brittany and made strange faces. Andie pushed her nails into her palm and hid her face behind her thick mane of unruly reddish-brown hair to hide her smile. She pretended to cough to hide her laugh.

“Is something funny, Andrea?”Brittanyasked, annoyed at the interruption to her serious ceremony.

“Sorry . . . um, I just had something in my throat. And . . . I wish you would call me Andie. You know nobody calls me Andrea.” Andie answered quietly.

“We don’t use nicknames in our group,”Brittanysaid, “It’s your turn to ask a question.”

“Um . . . I’d rather not.”

“If you want to hang out with us, you have to do as I say,”Brittanysaid. The other girls responded in agreement.

Courtney said, “You should ask the ghost to do something.”

“OK, let me think a minute,” Andie said, closing her eyes. What do I do? She thought. I don’t really want the ghost to answer me, but I can’t get out of this. Andie remembered that ghosts required a lot of energy to move objects, so often they wouldn’t do it when asked. Usually they just said “No.”  Please just say no, Andie prayed silently.

“If you are here,” she whispered so quietly that the other girls leaned forward to hear her, “please lift the candle in the air.”

The ghostly girl looked thoughtful and headed toward the candle. Andie held her breath as the spirit tried to grab it. The candle flames flickered more brightly as the ghost focused energy in that area. Someone whispered, “Did you see that?”

“Shh!” Brittany said. “You are imagining things.”

Andie held her breathe. The ghost made two more unsuccessful attempts at moving the candle. When she gave up, a look of frustration reflected on her pale features, Andie released air in a rush.

“Well, that was useless,” Brittany snapped and blew out the candle. “I’m getting bored, let’s do makeovers now.”  She looked over at Andie, “Some of us really need help. You should start wearing makeup Andrea.”

Andie blushed, but stood up, relieved that the séance was over with no harm done. She’d even tolerate a makeover, although her mother didn’t want her to wear makeup. She’d do anything to keep her secret safe.

All the girls rushed over to grab hairbrushes and makeup cases. Brittany ordered Andie to sit in front of her and started experimenting with purple eye shadow so Andie was not able to see what the ghost girl was doing.

Brittanyhad just finished one of Andie’s eyes when somebody screamed, “Look at that!” A mirror dropped with a loud crash.

Everyone looked toward the center of the room, where they had left the candle. To most of the girls, it seemed as if the candle was floating several feet above the ground. Andie saw a hand that looked almost solid, and the faint image of the figure of the ghost girl.

Forgetting where she was, Andie said to the ghost “You should probably stop that. You might fade away completely.”  The ghost responded by walking over to Andie and handing the candle to her.

Suddenly Andie realized that all eyes in the room were on her as the girls backed away.

“How did you do that?” Brittanydemanded.

“Do what?”  Andie answered, trying to hide the candle behind her.

“Make that candle float.”

“I didn’t do it. I think you really have a ghost,” Andie said, and then giggled nervously trying to pretend she was making a joke.

“And who were you talking to?” one of the other girls asked.

“Uh . . .” Andie looked at the girls who were all staring at her with shocked, terrified or mocking expressions. She realized she wouldn’t be able to fib her way out of this situation. For the first time she decided to reveal her secret. She took a deep breath and began. “I can see ghosts. There’s a girl standing over there.”  Heads swiveled to where Andie was pointing, but of course nobody could see anything.

Brittanysnorted with scorn. “You’re such a freak. You still haven’t grown up and left your imaginary friends behind. I’m going to call you Ghost Girl from now on!  Girls, isn’t that a great name for her?”

Brittany’s entourage agreed.

“It’s time to play Truth or Dare,” Brittanyordered. “But I don’t want you playing, Ghost Girl.”

Andie winced at the new nickname. She was never going to be part of this group.

Brittany continued. “Why don’t you go upstairs and help my mother with the pizza.”

For the rest of the evening, Andie did whatever Brittany ordered her to do, but was otherwise ignored. Occasionally, she caught the other girls whispering and giving her odd looks. Andie finally remembered to wipe off the purple eye shadow haunting one eye, but the funny looks didn’t stop. If anything, they got worse. The words “ghost girl” followed her around. The real ghost followed her as well. The faded teen wanted to communicate and get the attention of everyone in the room. Whenever she thought she no one was looking, Andie whispered to the ghost, trying to convince the spirit to leave for a while. This only added to the strange looks from everyone else.

Finally, it was time for bed. “I think you should sleep over there,” Brittany told Andie, pointing to the far corner of the room—the corner where the ghost first made her appearance. “That way you can talk to your ghost friends without disturbing the normal people in the room. Goodnight, Ghost Girl.”

The other girls giggled, saying “Goodnight, Ghost Girl” as Andie grabbed her sleeping bag while trying to stifle a sob. She slowly set it up in the far corner of the room.

I guess I won’t be joining The Circle now that my secret is out, she thought.

Andie had a difficult time falling asleep. She tossed and turned, unable to get comfortable on a hard floor with a tear-damp pillow. She continued to hear whispered conversations from across the room, including the words “Ghost Girl.”  The spirit girl tried to start a conversation with Andie, but Andie was in no mood to oblige. Eventually, the ghostly teen faded away with a look of disappointment.

Unable to sleep, Andie thought about the first time she had ever seen a ghost.

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. the domestic fringe
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 08:15:33

    Somehow I didn’t realize you wrote a book for middle-schoolers. Your writing is great! I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for linking up and sharing your first chapter.

    Reply

  2. jgavinallan
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 09:15:27

    Earth to Lisa…Jaye is hooked!
    Waiting for part 2
    I love Andie

    Jaye

    Reply

  3. Julia Munroe Martin
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 10:10:48

    That’s great!! Loved it! (no middle grade readers here, but *I* enjoyed it immensely!)

    Reply

    • Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)
      Jul 01, 2011 @ 19:53:03

      I think a good story is a good story, no matter the age group. Writing mediocre stories for young people is offensive to them. I also believe good theater for young audiences is simply good theater. I guess that is one of my mantras.

      Reply

  4. Tori Nelson
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 10:18:07

    Slap my mama and call me a sixth grader. I love it!

    Reply

  5. Vix @ LittleMissEverything
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 10:55:28

    Thanks for sharing Lisa, I love a paramormal story as you know. I’m rooting for Andie 🙂

    Reply

  6. nrhatch
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 11:52:17

    Great start.
    I’d rather have ghosts as friends than Brittany. 😉

    Reply

  7. Donna Jean
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 11:56:12

    Oh, I love all the added details, Lisa. It’s come alive. I love the idea of self-publishing. The world of publishing is changing. Soon they will no longer have their foot on writer’s necks. Congratulations!

    Reply

  8. Christine Grote
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 14:33:04

    I like this, Lisa. Love the seance. It’s a good start. One suggestion (don’t know if you want it). When they blew the candle out, I thought they would be in the dark. But they went straight to getting their things. Seems like the setting should be addressed. Were they in the dark before?

    Reply

    • Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)
      Jul 11, 2011 @ 14:55:03

      Good question, but I’m probably not going to fix it. You are probably right, but that chapter was SO LONG in other incarnations that I’m afraid to add anything. 😉

      Reply

  9. jgavinallan
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 16:41:08

    Lisa:
    Ready for part 2—soon i hope.
    Jaye

    Reply

  10. Trackback: So You’ve Written a Manuscript . . . Now What? « Woman Wielding Words

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