So, I've been under the weather. Every November, without fail, I fall ill from something or other! Saturday night I had a fever, something around 102. Surprisingly, that night, I came up with an idea for my next novel. So I suppose being sick has it's advantages! I'm feeling much better today, so I wanted to post a teaser of my new endeavor. And yes, I wrote this while sick, so I've decided if you don't like it you have to blame the flu, not me!
The title of this manuscript is, MISS LILY WHITE'S ACADEMY FOR WAYWARD DEAD GIRLS. Need I say more?
xoxo -- Hilary
Chapter One -- A Very Dead Girl
"I'm dead as a freaking doornail!" shouted Farina. "I'd rather go to Hell for all eternity than be trapped in this idiotic school!" A few of the more prissy girls gasped at the declaration. Farina Rathbone bolted from her desk, nearly knocking it over. She hurled herself through the wall and out into the hallway.
"Stay put," said Miss Lily to the other girls, wiggling a spidery finger at them. She calmly drifted after Farina.
"Now Farina dear," said Miss Lily White, in her soft Italian accent. "Even dead, we all need to mind our manners. I do understand your discontent, but that does not negate the fact that you still have yet to discover what you've been sent here to learn." Miss Lily took Farina gently by the shoulders and steered her in front of the hall mirror. "Yes, your young life was taken from you. It's horrible and it's true, but that doesn't mean you are allowed to carry on in death, as you did in life. That's what got you into this predicament in the first place."
Farina stared at her raggedy reflection in the mirror. "I didn't mean to get myself killed. Why am I being punished?"
Tall and skeletal, Miss Lily leaned down and put her gaunt, white face next to Farina's. "Dearest, you are not being punished. I know it's hard to understand, especially only having been here a year. But when a person dies young they stay trapped in that age, unless they can learn to grow inside. That's why the powers that be opened the academy, to help you understand why you're here--to help you grow up--to move on."
"What does it matter if I stay trapped in my age? I'm plenty grown in my opinion. Not to mention, I'm dead. Why can't I just be left alone?"
"That, my darling, is not for me to answer. Everyone's calling is different." A smile branched across Miss Lily's withered face. "I died over three hundred years ago. I surmise my calling was to help girls like you. You know, not everyone is as fortunate as you. Not all young souls get a chance such as this."
Farina snorted. "What, are they too wayward to join your wayward academy?"
"Don't be smart," said Miss Lily, flashing a look in the mirror. "But in a way, you are right. They must be too wayward for they are sent to the place where the bad ones go."
"You mean The Caves?"
"Yes, my darling, The Caves. I gather there are even young ones with spoiled souls, already too far gone to be saved. They don't get a second chance like you did. That's why you need to make the most of your time here."
Farina changed the subject. "What did you die of, Miss Lily?"
"A broken heart," said Miss Lily. She sighed. "The baron I was madly in love with did not return my sentiment. Utterly hopeless, I let myself wither away to nothing and I died as a result. So you see, my dear, I was foolish once too. I believe that's why I care for you girls so much. Feelings run deep when we're young. As we grow older, it still hurts, but it's manageable." Miss Lily patted Farina's shoulder. "Now my dear, why don't you take what's left of today off? You can start fresh on Monday."
"Thank you, Miss Lily," said Farina.
Miss Lily smiled sweetly and vanished from the hallway, leaving Farina alone in front of the mirror. She looked at her tattered uniform, black and white plaid skirt, with an equally unattractive sweater vest. Apparently the dead had no more fashion sense than the living when it came to school attire. "So ugly," she muttered. Her once smooth hair was now a tangled bramble of platinum dread locks, held at bay by a massive ponytail sitting atop her head. Farina always liked her looks, even more so with her scar--her battle wound. She ran a finger over it, thinking she looked pretty good for having her entire face split open by a windshield. Most of the girls in the academy weren't exactly stunners, and their faces were still in one piece. She snickered. In any case, Farina supposed it served her right, stealing her mother's SUV that icy December night--angry she'd been grounded--for once truly innocent of her mother's accusations. Of all the irony! A year later, the thought of that night still goaded her. Maybe her parents had sound reason when at sixteen years old; they refused to let her get a driver's license. She was what the adults called, reckless.