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Some obsessions know no boundary…not even death.
Abby had the perfect life: shopping sprees at the mall, a pool in her backyard, a dream bedroom, a BFF… That is, until her family moved to the backwoods of Wisconsin.
Abby plans to prove this backwoods dump is no place for a thirteen-year-old. So when her parents hire a carpenter and his son, Greg, she hangs out with the older boy to make her parents worry. But Greg turns out to be a total creep, and although Abby tells him she doesn’t like him, he continues to make her life miserable, watching her, trying to get close to her, threatening her.
What’s creepier is the mysterious brown-haired girl that keeps appearing and disappearing without saying a word. When Abby finds the girl's diary in the outbuilding, she learns that they share a common enemy, Greg.
Will they share the same fate too?
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I decided to stay inside today, hide from Greg, and unpack my clothes and stuff. Nothing’s turned out like I planned. Greg’s a total creep, my sister won’t do squat for me, and Mom is so engrossed in her painting she doesn’t have time for anything else. I unpack some games—Pictionary, Scrabble—but I can’t put them in the closet because the ladder is in the way. I find a two-thousand piece puzzle of a landscape. I’ve had enough of landscapes just being here, but I’m bored to tears.
I take it to the dining room and spill the pieces onto the table. I like this room. Maybe because it’s the only finished one in the house. Maybe because it makes me feel like I’m living somewhere other than in the sticks.
I work for a while, matching shapes and patterns, most of all wondering what Katie is doing. It’s not fair that she has a life and I don’t. That I am stuck here without friends and with a creepy boy who hates my guts.
I open a window and stare down the long gravel road. If I didn’t have my period, I would run today. I would show Greg that I’m tough and not to be messed with.
I imagine my gym shoes pounding the gravel road, a trail of dust behind me.
Movement near the outbuilding catches my eye. Standing by the door is a girl about my age with long brown hair, wearing a tank top and a pair of jean shorts. Where did she come from?
She looks in my direction and then pushes open the door and steps inside.
Who is she? The carpenter’s daughter? The daughter of the people who used to live here coming back for her stuff?
I keep my eye on the door waiting for her to come out. I really need a friend right now, especially a girl my age. Maybe we can hang out at the beach together.
I decide to go out to meet her.
At the outbuilding, I slowly push open the door. A stale musty smell hits my nose. The building is practically overrun with furniture and boxes stacked to the ceiling.
I look down the narrow walkways in-between all the junk, but I don’t see a soul. “Hello?” I say, my eyes searching between the crevices of furniture and boxes.
Where did she go? I must have missed her coming out.
“Abby!” Mom says.
I jump. Mom is standing in the doorway. “How did this door get unlocked?”
“There was a girl. She opened the door and walked inside.”
“Where is she? Who is she?”
“I don’t know. She disappeared.”
Mom looks at me like I’m fibbing. “This door was locked,” she says. “I hope no one else has a key. I don’t want anything to happen to the Holts’ things.”
“What if they never come back? What are you going to do with this stuff?”
“I guess I’ll keep it stored for about a year. Then maybe we’ll have a garage sale.”
If we had a garage.
Mom re-locks the door with the padlock and then walks over to the house. Shielding her eyes from the sun, she looks up at the roof. “Mr. Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman,” she calls.
Wearing a pair of overalls and no shirt, he peers down at her. “Yes, ma’am?”
“Did you by chance unlock the outbuilding door for any reason?” Mom asks.
“Are you sure?”
“I don’t have a key. Maybe your husband unlocked it before he left.”
Mom nods. “Yeah, maybe.” Mom returns to the house, and I look around the area for the brown-haired girl, but there’s not a trace of her. When the nail gun pauses, I ask Mr. Zimmerman if he noticed a girl in the yard. He shakes his head and stares at me like I’m crazy. Greg glares at me.
I go back to my puzzle, but I can’t concentrate. It’s hot in here. I open another window and look at the outbuilding. Social deprivation. That’s what it is. I need to get out of here before I completely lose it. And somewhere other than Kukla’s bait shop. I also need to move on my plan to get Mom and Dad to move us back home.
I decide to ask Mom tomorrow, plead with her if I have to, to take me to the beach.
And here she is. . .
JoAnne Keltner is the author of Goth Girl, Virgin Queen (Solstice Publishing, 2015) and Obsession (Musa Publishing, 2013 ed.). As an only child and avid daydreamer, she spent hours alone in her backyard on the South Side of Chicago, which she imagined to be everything from an alien planet to Antarctica. She currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband, four dogs, cat, and three chickens. When she isn’t writing or freelance editing, she’s obsessively streaming popular TV shows.
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