I decided to continue sharing as I work and tweak.
This is the first part of Chapter 1, raw and unedited, so I’d love your feedback!
If you’d like to start at the very beginning, check out the prologue.
All text ©Silver Rain, 2015.
Cassie watched the house through the break in the backyard fence. It had been more than a year since anyone had lived there, but the family moving in was causing quite the ruckus. A young boy, at least five years her elder slipped out the back door and glanced around the yard. Cassie ducked back, but not before he spotted her.
“Hey,” he called, moving closer to the fence, and peeking through the same hole she’d been staring through. “My name’s Ben,” he said quietly, but Cassie didn’t respond. She knew better than to talk to strangers—for far more reasons than most kids.
Her eyes darted to her own back door, and then, back to the boy while she chewed on the inside of her lip as she debated whether to run or stay.
“I’m your new neighbor,” Ben explained. “We just started moving in today—me, my parents, my sisters and brother.”
His father stepped out on the back porch and stretched up to look over the fence. “Who are you talking to?”
“Neighbor,” Ben said, not taking his eyes off of the young girl for fear she’d run away.
Cassie dropped her head, twisting the tip of her foot into the ground until the screen door on the back of her house slammed closed.
“Come on, Cas,” another young blond girl—around Ben’s age—bounced down the stairs and ran across the yard. “Everyone’s going to think we’re weird.”
The second girl smiled and waved. “I’m Rachel. She’s Cassie, but she doesn’t really talk.” She stepped in front of the missing fence plank and whispered. “She has this stuttering thing.”
Cassie shoved her older sister, frowning and shaking her head.
“As if stuttering is any worse than just not talking,” Rachel said under her breath. “I’m sure they’d eventually notice anyway.”
“Well, I’m Chuck,” the older, slightly grey-haired man said. “And this is my son, Ben. Tell your parents we’d like to have you all over for a cookout once we get settled.”
“Sure,” Rachel yelled, skipping back toward the house. When she reached the steps, she turned back. “Come on, Cas.”
Cassie frowned and dropped her head to the side, keeping her eyes toward the young boy even though she didn’t make eye contact.
“Nice to meet you, Cassie,” he said, hoping to get some kind of reaction from her.
She peeked up, gave him a tight smile then charged toward the porch and in the back door.
Every day, I waited for my past to strike again. Not the good memories. They were long gone and buried. A faint hope that I held on to when the nightmares came and stole away my sanity. Something that happened far too often. No one could understand why I woke in a terror-induced panic. First, they looked at me with pity. But once I interrupted their sleep too often, it just turned to annoyance.
Every time I thought I regained some smidgen of control over my life, they struck again. They found a new way in and refused to let go.
I shoved the last of my belongings into the back of my car. It was dark out, and even with the light of the cloud-covered moon, I couldn’t really tell what I was doing. Sneaking out in the middle of the night was best left to teenagers, but I was the twenty-one-year-old heartache that my grandparents kept locked away—and on a short leash. I had to steal my own damn keys to my own car. But I was done. It was time to either take my life back, or run as far away as I could from it. I hadn’t decided yet.
I knew where my heart pulled me to go. Felt the drawstring closing tightly around it and tugging me back. I wasn’t that brave. I was the quintessential chicken. I’d had too many heartbreaks to dare getting my hopes up. I held the key to the ignition tightly in my hand as the sound of an approaching car turned my blood to ice water.
I had only been back, living with my grandparents for a month, but it was as tedious as ever. I wasn’t ready for yet another fight. Fighting was particularly sucky given my disadvantage. Half the time, it took me longer to put together a sentence, than it did for them to finish their lecture. Every fight was the same, me trying to stutter my way through a defense, while everyone else rolls merrily onward reaming me out for whatever stupidity—usually my inability to talk.
It was a low blow that very few people I knew were above.
The red car drove by, and I hoped that I was home free. I slid the key in the ignition, and prayed for the car to start. Just my luck, it wouldn’t. But as soon as I turned the key, it purred to life without a single objection.
Free. Just this once. Maybe I’m free.
A light clicked on in the house, and I threw the car into reverse and sped backward down the driveway. Maybe a bit too fast since I cut the turn short and went over the curb. But there wasn’t any stopping me now.