This is an excerpt from the young adults book I’m currently writing. It’s part of the first chapter and gives you a flavour of the book itself. The story is all about a girl who discovers she’s half fairy and her adventures and experiences after she finds out.
Chapter 1- The adventure begins
Hayley woke before the alarm clock rang. She felt a strange sense of excitement and anticipation. Of course, you would expect that most girls waking up on their 14th birthday would feel excited. However, Hayley wasn’t like most girls.
She yawned and stretched and thought she’d probably woken up because the sun was streaming through her tattered old curtains. It filled the room with a warm blanket of dappled sunshine. She looked around the tiny room and took it all in. This room had been laughingly called a fourth bedroom in the estate agent’s details. It must have only just qualified because it was absolutely tiny. She was still sleeping on the same bed which she’d had as a baby and toddler. It was narrower than a normal bed and used to have cot sides attached when she’d been younger. Luckily it also had drawers underneath it as there was precious little space in the room and these provided valuable storage space. The room was simply too small to take a full-size bed.
At the end of the bed was a tiny window. Although she loved the warm weather, and always felt better when it was sunny, she would have liked the option to keep the room dark sometimes. The curtains had been bought at a car boot sale and were well past their “sell by date”. They were really thin and old. She was surprised that her step mum, Cindy, allowed them to be seen. Cindy was quite obsessive about how her house looked and what the neighbours thought of her efforts. She supposed she maybe didn’t mind so much because Hayley’s room was at the back of the house and the window was so small that there really wasn’t much to see from the outside. Whenever guests were shown around the house Cindy deliberately didn’t show them Hayley’s room and if anyone asked what was behind the other door on the landing she simply said it was an airing cupboard and needed tidying up before she could show it to anyone.
The only other furniture in the room was a bedside cabinet (the room was too small to accommodate a full-size chest of drawers). This was pushed up against the far wall as there was no room to put it next to the bed. The door opened into the room and only just cleared the side of her bed. Thinking about that Hayley hopped out of bed and turned the alarm clock off, so she wouldn’t wake Cindy with it. It was a real pain having nowhere to put anything next to the bed and she’d been shouted at before when she took too long to turn it off. Because of this she often slept with it on the bed, next to her hand, to try and ensure she turned it off quickly. The trouble with doing that was that she was a restless sleeper and, if she thrashed about too much in bed, it often fell on the floor and then she had difficulty finding it quickly. At least with it being the summer holidays she had been able to set the clock for later. When she was at school it needed to be set much earlier so that she could get all her chores done before it was time for school. She was so glad her birthday fell in July as, at least with her being on holiday, there was more chance of her being able to do something nice today.
She took a few more minutes to enjoy the luxury of just being able to lie there and look around. Eventually the thought popped into her head “hurry up and get up, the sooner you do your chores the sooner you can get out and go and walk in the woods”. With that she jumped out of bed and got dressed. For once her long ginger hair cooperated with her brushing it and fell into a tidy shape. Most days she had to resort to using her straighteners to tame it. Her friends often told her how much they envied her, but they wouldn’t have liked to experience the reality of looking after it. It was really thick and, if left to it’s own devices, would spring up into an unruly mop of curls. She pulled on her favourite jeans, paired them with a bright yellow top and bounced up to open the door.
As she opened it she cringed. Cindy was just coming out of her room and had her “I’m not happy face” on. It was her most popular expression and Hayley knew full well that it would almost certainly mean she’d suffer in some way or another. “Morning Cindy” she said quietly, secretly hoping that for once her stepmother was simply tired and not annoyed at her for something. “What’s good about it that’s what I’d like to know?” barked Cindy. Hayley knew better than to point out she hadn’t said good morning as that would simply provoke her. Instead she stayed quiet and waited for Cindy to come out with the inevitable problem. “I’ve woken up earlier than I needed to and it’s all your fault. The curtains weren’t pulled properly last night. It never ceases to amaze me that you can’t even get simple tasks right. I wish you’d pay more attention to what you are doing. You’re so inconsiderate” Hayley marvelled inwardly at Cindy’s warped view of the world. She wished she’d just for once think of someone else and maybe, miracle of miracles, actually acknowledge Hayley’s birthday for once. “Oh, by the way Happy Birthday Hayley” Cindy said and then she waltzed off into the bathroom.
Hayley’s mouth fell open and she stood absolutely still, not entirely sure she’d heard right. In all the four years she’d known Cindy she’d never once wished her a happy birthday or even happy Xmas. She’d never received a present or card and most years got no acknowledgement of the day, apart from her eldest brother, who now lived in Scotland. If she didn’t know better she’d say it was magical, especially after wishing for exactly that to happen seconds before. However, she knew, from her therapist, that magical thinking was something she should avoid so she tried to persuade herself that it was simply coincidence and distracted herself by going into Cindy’s room to do her usual chores.
Cindy’s room was in stark contrast to hers. It was, obviously, the master bedroom and was the epitome of luxury. The room was dominated by a vast, white, four poster bed. This was draped in a thin, white, filmy organza material which was speckled with sequins and sparkled and twinkled as it blew in the breeze. The carpet was thick and white and felt so comforting under Hayley’s feet. Of course, it was a nightmare to keep clean and free from stains, but Cindy didn’t need to worry about that as that wasn’t a problem for her. Keeping the entire house clean was Hayley’s job. “If I did believe in magical thinking then I might wish for Cindy to get a cleaner” she thought to herself. She chuckled to herself and told herself not to be so silly. That was about as unlikely as a polar bear walking across the landing. Why on earth would Cindy pay for something when she could get it for free?
Crossing to the window she noticed the curtains were pulled properly, apart from a tiny chink at the top. The curtains were made of thick, luxurious material and had blackout linings attached. It was therefore highly unlikely that the minuscule gap had caused Cindy to wake. Hayley felt sure however that it had made her day to find a way to blame her for something. Cindy seemed to spend a lot of time looking for ways to humiliate Hayley and seemed to get a real kick out of it. She pulled the curtains back and stood for a moment, enjoying the warm feel of the sunshine on her face. There it was again, that warm, fuzzy feeling that was making Hayley feel quite excited about it being her birthday. She wondered what the significance of it was and then mentally shook herself and determined to get on with what she was doing.
She quickly made Cindy’s bed and ran downstairs to the kitchen to get her orange juice and vitamin pills. She picked up the little Wedgwood china platter, placed one of Cindy’s best crystal glasses on it, filled the glass with juice and laid out the vitamin pills on a napkin beside it. If her dad had been home, instead of away on yet another business trip, she’d have had to do the same for him too.
Hayley got back upstairs just as Cindy was coming out of the bathroom. She could have used her own, en-suite, but preferred the larger, more luxurious bathroom that served the rest of the bedrooms. She was forever trying to persuade Hayley’s dad to move to a house that had not only a bigger bathroom but a dressing room off the master suite. “Oh, there you are girl” Cindy said. “I’ve been thinking recently that we should get a cleaner, everyone I know has one and I’m worried the neighbours might think we don’t have one because we can’t afford it. Now, put that down and run downstairs to start on my breakfast” Hayley put the tray down, walked out of the room and, only when she was outside the door, remembered to breathe.
What was happening today? She’d only just been thinking about how nice it would be to have a cleaner do some of her work when Cindy came up with it as a suggestion. This, on top of Cindy wishing her a happy birthday, was really weird. She stood and pondered what this could possibly mean, and this time found it extremely difficult to persuade herself that it was merely coincidental.
Hayley had been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) three years previously. The psychiatrists all thought that the stress from losing her mum had contributed to the really troublesome symptoms she had had at that time. She had reacted badly to losing her but then she had always felt much closer to her mum than to anyone else. She’d been a kind and gentle lady who had never had a bad word to say to anyone. She was the most generous person too and often could be found helping others in difficulty and then being told off by her dad for doing so. Hayley often wondered why her mum and dad had ever married. He was quite grumpy and prone to be very selfish. He spent a lot of time away on business trips and when he was home he rarely stayed in as he played a variety of sports and was always out with his mates. They really didn’t seem to have had a lot in common and it was difficult to see why her mum had gone into the relationship. On the odd occasion she’d asked her mum about this she’d just smile mysteriously and say “they say opposites attract don’t they? Sometimes we never know why things happen and sometimes we find out at a later date” Hayley had never quite known what this meant but had never pushed her mother further as she had instinctively felt she wouldn’t have told her anyway.
Hayley thought back to the time when her OCD had been bad. She knew that most people, if they knew anything about OCD, thought that it related to obsessive hand – washing but this wasn’t the only type. At that time Hayley had developed a lot of checking behaviours and had a whole catalogue of strange rituals which her therapists had said were her mind’s way of coping with the increased anxiety and fear she’d developed as a result of her mum’s death. She’s had to go to regular sessions with a psychiatric nurse and had, eventually, learned to manage all her symptoms apart from something that her nurse referred to as “magical thinking” For some reason this aspect of Hayley’s condition had never really responded to treatment and eventually her therapists had accepted that she’d gotten as well as she could and discharged her.
Hayley’s “magical thinking” symptoms had been many and varied. She’d always believed in magic, because her mum had always told her it existed. Her nurse had told her that this had simply been her mum’s childhood stories, made up and not real. She’d tried to tell Hayley that if her mum had lived she’d have told her that herself when she’d been a bit older. Hayley knew that that did sound logical but somehow, she could never quite fully believe that magic didn’t exist. She’d managed to stop believing that numbers which weren’t a multiple of 3 were “bad” and she no longer believed that her thoughts were powerful enough to make things happen. That is she believed it most of the time. There had been times, especially in the last year, when she’d had to concentrate quite hard to stop herself thinking that way. She’d noticed increasingly that some of the things she thought about had actually happened. Before today they’d all been things she’d thought about for others and today was the first day they’d related to thoughts about herself. “No, it can’t be” she thought. “I’m being silly and this isn’t me it’s my OCD”. She remembered her therapy and forced herself to relabel these thoughts as OCD ones, reattribute them to a chemical imbalance in her brain and refocus on something else. “It’s just coincidence and I do not have the power to affect change with my thoughts” she said to herself and then ran down the stairs to get breakfast started.
To be continued (hope to get it published some time in the next year or so)
Photo by Andraz Lazic on Unsplash