Could it be time for another snippet already? I hope you’re as excited as I am with the progression of Once Upon Nowhere. Here we find Tori Lawson, a bit melancholy as of late, still fighting the doldrums over this latest move.
Even without the use of a lamp, she found the bedroom’s dingy wallpaper hideous. It reminded Tori of Old Lady McClain, whose own bedraggled house towered over the one Tori and her mother had only recently abandoned. She ran a hand over the yellowed print. Strawberries. Who puts strawberried wallpaper in a bedroom?
Old Lady McClain. That’s who.
The neighborhood kids were convinced she was a witch. Though Tori had never seen evidence to the contrary, her mother assured her that Hortense McClain was merely an elderly woman who preferred the company of cats. And there were a lot of cats.
Yes, this wallpaper screamed of Old Lady McClain, and now Tori was stuck with it.
Continuing with the first chapter of Once Upon Nowhere, Tori confronts one of her biggest fears — a lightning storm — and allows her mind to wander. Her mother has reassured her that this time they’ve found the place where they will be able to settle down. So why would she rather be anywhere but here?
When their station wagon had turned onto a rutted road leading up to a dilapidated farmhouse, Tori knew in her heart it would never be the case. And no amount of coaxing, then or now, would convince her it was all for the best.
She buried her face in a pillow, pulled the covers over her head and squeezed her eyes shut. But her attempts to block out the night’s symphony were futile. She bolted straight up at the next deafening crack.
As Tori fretted the edge of a blanket, the beats between lightning and thunder decreased. It was close. The pounding of her heart melded into the steady sweep of rain on their farmstead.
A nearby strike lit the night sky for one brief second. Shadows scuttled to the forgotten corners of her room, which remained much the same as when she had crossed its threshold three months earlier.
This is the beginning of my YA novel, Once Upon Nowhere, in which Tori’s life becomes even more complicated when her mother’s secretive past lands on their doorstop. Tori must battle the Master, the Witch, and the Finder of Lost Things, a humble thief with too much heart for his own good, in order to save her mother. And she just might find herself in the process.
Chapter One – Bump in the Night
Like most twelve-year-olds, Tori Lawson believed herself too old for lullabies and fairy tales, though, at that very moment, she thought of little else. The storm raged outside her window and pelted against the wood. She lost count the number of times thunderous claps had sent her scurrying across the hall to her mother’s room, only to linger at the door. Each time, a foreboding had washed over her, and she lumbered back to bed. There would be no comfort for her tonight, no matter how beautiful the melody.
The decaying farmhouse spluttered and groaned, as far away from slumber as Tori herself. Perhaps it, too, lamented a loss — one equal to her own — and cried out for solace. Tori had none to give.
“We’re going to love it here, sweetheart,” her mother had said. “Mark my words.” She had flashed that plastic smile, the one held in reserve for when she was about to throw her daughter’s life into turmoil . . .
A torrent of tears in this ocean
Bittersweet memories longing for freedom
Wave upon wave surging forward
Yearning to find release
Ever-present, hidden, rising
Beneath its mirrored surface
Break upon the shore
Cling upon the air
Gasping, fighting for breath
And are no more
Swept up in these tears
To flow again through glassy eyes
A stranger’s face
Looking out, pleading silently for help
Does anybody hear her, I wonder
And I realize
This morbid creature Is one I’ve never known