So close to big news and chapter 21 of the voice in the forest

back to the program

Hi Everybody!
First, thanks for all the well wishes while I was sick. I’m finally better and working on undestroying my house. Because when I get sick, somehow stuff magically fails apart.
And I will be posting more on socials again, although I’m still trying to find the thing that works for me where that’s concerned. My plan so far didn’t exactly hit the way I wanted.
Okay, so I honestly still suck at social media, but I am working on getting back to our regularly scheduled programming. 

best short story

In positive news, I have another free short story for you!
Remember, I’m doing a series challenges this summer for short stories, so expect a few more of these. 😉
And this one is my favorite so far.
Here is the link to my story, Sex Ed, on Vocal. media.
Remember, this story is free to read and is just because I wanted to do this summer challenge.
This one is YA contemporary.

coming soon!

We are soooooo close to big news and exciting stuff and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
But you’ll have to wait just a tiny bit longer.
For now, I have another chapter of The Voice In The Forest for you and I can say that there will be more books this year!

chapter 21 of the voice in the forest

“That’s…” I said, flipping pages to check that I was right.

“What?” Blackwell asked from his perch on my windowsill.

“It’s weird, pages are missing,” I said, looking up at him from the ledger in my hands, resting on my bed.

He stood up and made his way to me, his brows knit together as he bent over, the closest he would come to my bed, and flipped the pages just as I had.

Further along, another couple pages were missing.

Blackwell took a step back and stumbled his way to the window sill, his mouth a thin line.

I looked back through the ledger, and the occasional missing page or chunk of missing pages grew more and more numerous until they stopped happening all together. 

“How long does it last?” He asked, his voice not just quiet, but hoarse and raw.

Going back from the last dated entry after a chunk of missing pages, to the first instance of them gone, I did the math.

“Twenty-seven years.” For twenty-seven years entries in the ledger were not just edited, they were removed completely.

“Did they erase me?” He looked at me, his eyes haunted and as bottomless as the lake in the woods. “Is that what my life amounted to? Missing pages?”

I didn’t have an answer for him. At least not a good one. 

So, instead of trying to tell him lies, or reassure him of something I wasn’t certain of, I shoved the ledger away from me and went to him at the window.

Crouching down in front of him, I took his hand in mine and I finally found the words.

“Blackwell, you’re here now. In an unorthodox way, but you’re here. Whatever your life was before, now you’re the only friend I have. And the only person who I can really talk to.” 

The look on his face softened and he reached out a hand, his fingers shaking in a tiny tremor, and brushed a lock of hair away from my face. 

His touch, whether he initiated it on my face, or I did on his hand, felt as solid as the floor beneath my feet.

“Arabella, being your friend, is not nothing. Thank you,” he said, the strength returning to his voice as the shaking in his hand subsided. 

I smiled, although it lacked true joy. And I hoped he didn’t notice.

“Maybe we should look somewhere other than the main office ledgers,” he said, returning my smile.

Tilting my head, I looked past him out the window.

“Where should we look next?” I wondered aloud, not expecting him to answer.

At that, his mouth went back to the grim line. 

I stood up and paced back and forth.

Under other circumstances, my first instinct would be the library, but I would need a ride and Blackwell wouldn’t be able to go with me.

“Let’s try the attic. It’s the only place I can think of that for sure will have old and forgotten things.” I held my hand out for him to take.

He smiled as he did, pulling himself to his feet. It was that, the small moment of pulling him up, that marked him as different. He was light and air, no weight at all as he stood. Not alive. Not anymore.

Somehow, I had to remember that at all times.

We left my room carefully, not wanting to run into one of the other people milling about the house. 

Or, I didn’t want to run into anyone.

Even with Blackwell trying not to distract me and get me caught, I didn’t want to see anyone. 

If he didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have wanted to sit and chat with anyone either.

He led the way through the hallway to a door not far from the stairs that I assumed led to another bedroom or a closet.

But instead, when I opened the door there was a dark stairway leading into complete blackness.

A yellowed string, with the end frayed and bent, hung in front of me connected to a bare light bulb.

I pulled it, an anemic light shown up the stairs, far enough for me to see that the steps were clear of anything blocking my way, but not all the way to the top.

“Here we go,” I muttered, walking into the vestibule to the attic’s stairs, shutting the door behind me. 

“If this locks us in, you’ll be able to open it, right?” My voice was a whisper as I glanced at Blackwell.

He only smiled in response and started up the stairs.

Why a chill ran down my spine and goosebumps rose on my arms as I creeped up after him, I didn’t know. The ghost was with me.

But the air grew thicker, harder to breathe, with every step I took.

Just past the edge of the light, another string hung. Itself a deeper shade of shadow. 

Pulling on it, more yellowed and weak bulbs flickered on throughout the attic. Their light spilled down the stairs, yet the heavy feeling remained.

I swallowed and went the rest of the way up.

The stairs ended, without any railing or wall around them, in the middle of a vast space with bare wood floors made of the framing itself and rafters with strange angles and off shoots. 

From the outside the roof lines didn’t look like they would produce the maze of framing that surrounded me, but the skeleton of the house was far more complicated than I thought.

“Have you been up here before?” I asked Blackwell, my voice still a whisper even though I doubted anyone below would be able to hear me. But this place… it didn’t feel like a place to be loud.

“No…” Blackwell turned slowly, the expression on his face like he was lost. “I don’t… remember.”

I didn’t ask again, although I suspected it was familiar to him. Even if he didn’t remember, and even if this version of him had not been here, at some point this place was hidden in his memories.

But why would up here be part of his memory in such a way that it partially broke through the fog of his mind when so little else did?

There was no way to know yet. Not until we got a lot more answers.

Making my way through the attic, I went to the first area with piles of stuff.

Suitcases, in out of date styles and colors, were staked together with cardboard boxes labeled clothes.

It only took a minute to figure out the suitcases were empty and all the boxes held nothing but ugly old clothes. They weren’t even vintage, just old. But they were coated in a film of dust and grime, even within their boxes.

“We should probably start with things from my era,” Blackwell said, his voice low to match mine and his gaze in a much deeper part of the attic.

“Good point.” I got up and wiped my hands on my pants, the goosebumps still running down my arms as I made my way toward where he was focused.

Ahead of me, Blackwell ducked under a low rafter and stopped, his shoulders hunching.

What he was looking at, I couldn’t see around him and the things piled up on either side of us. But when I ducked under the rafter too, I saw a pram.

Ta da!
Eventually, the phone I want will come back into stock (if the new version doesn’t show up on the market first) and I will get that fully handled. In the mean time, if I post something and it goes wonky, I will blame the tech.
Tell me what you think of the new short story and the story going on Vella.
Next week I will have another short story for you to read, and another chapter of The Voice In The Forest. And maybe I will be able to share the next big news.
As always, happy reading!

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