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Name: Jenny Perinovic Genre: Young Adult Gothic Romance Title: A Magic Dark and Bright
I hadn't seen the ghost who haunted the woods behind my house
since the night she watched my brother die.
that, I would see her every so often from the window next to my bed. She glowed
in the moonlight, a pale wraith in a white dress that curled around her ankles
and twisted in an ancient breeze that didn't touch the pine trees around her.
pressed my palm flat against the screen and waited. My brother, Mark, used to
tease me about my interest in her. My obsession, he called it some days. Or my
overactive imagination, on others. "Watch out, Amelia," he'd say,
throwing his hand to his chest. "She'll lure you out into the woods and
steal your soul."
months ago, we had been at a party, and it was dark and snowing, and I'd caught
my then-boyfriend kissing Erin West and begged Mark to drive me home anyway,
even though he'd been drinking. Even though he was drunk.
the woman from the woods watched it happen.
on," I whispered, like I could summon her with my words. I rested my head
against the bright white window frame and yawned as the big grandfather clock
in the hallway chimed once, signaling the hour. Nothing stirred outside--the
row of trees that bordered our yard stood still under the light of the full
moon, black branches stretched towards the sky. There wasn't even a breeze to
flutter the gauzy white curtains that hung around my windows. The woods
slid out of bed. There was no use looking anymore--if she hadn't shown up by
one, she wasn't going to show up at all. Sometimes, in the middle of the night
when the corners of my brain went fuzzy from exhaustion and the entire world
around me was dark, I wondered if I wanted to see her too much, wondered if my
wanting scared her away. And then I'd think how absurd that was, scaring away a
ghost. The stairs creaked under my feet on my way down to the kitchen. I poured
myself a glass of milk and stirred in two heaping spoonfuls of chocolate
powder, then carried my chocolate milk back up into my room and settled myself
back in my bed. Nothing but infomercials and Seinfeld reruns would be on
TV at this hour, but I had an entire stack of Mark's movies to work my way
through. Most of them were things I never would have watched before--slasher
flicks and raunchy comedies--but they made me feel close to him. I picked
up the remote and switched the TV on and paged through the menu until I found
the place I'd left off the night before.
tires crunched on the gravel driveway moments before headlights cut a wide
swath of light down the wall, right over the framed photos collected on my
desk, pictures I'd complained about taking last year when our family was
whole: four of us, posed and polished, smiling at the camera, back when Mark
was alive and my Dad still pretended to care about us.
frowned and set the remote down. It wasn't my mom--she'd kissed my forehead and
announced she was going to bed hours ago. I crossed to the window over my desk,
the one that overlooked the side of the house, and pushed aside the
curtain. Our driveway was dark--Mom's black Camry was parked right next to the
red Jeep my father had given me for my seventeenth birthday last month. But
there was a car idling in Ms. MacAllister's driveway next door.
light over her side door switched on and Ms. MacAllister stepped out onto the
wide, wrap-around porch and looked up toward my window. I shrank back, even
though the room behind me was dark and I was almost positive she couldn't see
me from where she stood.
I was a little girl, Mark had me convinced that Ms. MacAllister was a witch.
All the kids in Asylum thought so--she lived alone in that big, creepy house
and sold herbs and crystals who knows what else from her tea shop on the
waterfront. Plus, Mark had pointed out over and over again, her rose bushes
always bloomed so much larger and brighter than ours. Proof, he'd say. Proof
she was a witch.
that's how he is. Was. He'd been the kind of person who could sell a bridge in
I was too old to believe in stuff like that now. She wasn't a witch, just an
old lady with a killer green thumb, and I didn't have anything to be afraid of.
I lifted the curtain and peeked back outside.
engine turned off, and a door slammed. Voices, one low and deep and one higher,
carried across the still night, but they were too faint for me to understand
what was being said.
guy, tall and thin, climbed out of the car and slung a backpack over his
shoulder. Ms. MacAllister met him on the bottom step and wrapped her arms
around him in a hug. He pressed a kiss to her cheek and laughed. He
turned and gestured to the car, and for whatever reason I was surprised to see
how young he was--maybe only a little bit older than me, with a mop of brown
curls and thick, black framed glasses that glinted in the yellow light.
watched them climb the stairs together, and I watched the door shut behind them
and the porch light go out.
when I cast one last glance out to the woods, I caught the flash of a white
dress twisting in a non-existent breeze, the shimmer of moonlight on ghostly
skin. My breath caught and I closed my eyes.
I opened them again, she was gone. But for a moment, I hadn't been the only one