Shattered Souls, p.1Mary Lindsey
Table of Contents
A division of Penguin Young Readers Group. Published by The Penguin Group. Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014, U.S.A. Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.). Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England. Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd). Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd). Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India. Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd). Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa. Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England.
Copyright © 2011 by Mary Lindsey. All rights reserved.
This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014. Philomel Books, Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content. Published simultaneously in Canada.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Lindsey, Mary 1963–Shattered souls / by Mary Lindsey. p. cm. Summary: When a Texas high school student starts hearing voices, she assumes she is schizophrenic like her father, but instead she finds out that she is a “Speaker” who can communicate with the dead in order to help their troubled souls find resolution. [1. Ghosts—Fiction. 2. Future life—Fiction. 3. Supernatural—Fiction. 4. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 5 Galveston (Tex.)—History—20th century—Fiction.] I. Title. PZ7.L6613Sh 2011 [Fic]—dc22 2010044251
ISBN : 978-1-101-53813-5
I couldn’t have asked for a more professional or supportive group to guide me through my first publishing experience than the amazing folks at Philomel—especially Jill Santopolo, who pulled out her editorial defibrillator paddles and shocked additional life into my story. Thanks (also) to Julia Johnson, Ana Deboo, and Cindy Howle for helping to get my novel in gear with their keen observations and smart copyedits. I also owe a special shout-out to the Penguin art department for creating the most beautiful cover I’ve ever seen.
This book never would have happened without Wonder Agent Ammi-Joan Paquette. I appreciate your unwavering optimism and confidence in me and your rare ability to deliver the killing blows as skillfully as the roses.
Thank you to my QueryTracker family, especially Patrick McDonald, brainstormer extraordinaire and ever-present shoulder-to-cry-on; to H. L. Dyer, M.D., Carolyn Kaufman, Psy.D., and my sweet “sis” Suzette Saxton for reading and critiquing countless versions of this story; to my lovely, patient friend Jennifer Hunt, who endured many miles and hours with Lenzi, Alden and me (are you sick of us yet?); to Lynn Lorenz for the lightning-quick, sometimes middle-of-the-night emergency rescues; to Stephanie Pickett for loving me no matter how obnoxious I got; and to Suzanne Semans and the studio girls, who provided more encouragement and enthusiasm than a pep squad.
Most of all, I want to express my gratitude to my family, who endured all manner of inconvenience while I struck out in a new direction. Robert, you kept me laughing. Emily, you kept me going. Hannah, you kept me real. Laine, you kept me happy—you always have. I love you guys.
True love is like ghosts, which everybody talks about
and few have seen.
—François, duc de La Rochefoucauld, 1613–1680
The voice of a small child called out from somewhere behind me. “Please. I need your help.”
I twisted around, heart pounding in my ears, and stared at the empty row of bathroom stalls.
I couldn’t be like him. I refused.
Flipping on the sink faucet, I splashed water on my face and took some deep breaths to calm down. This was my imagination, nothing more.
The water dripping down my neck made me shiver. I yanked out a few paper towels and dabbed myself dry, then tossed them in the trash bin. Shaking, I rubbed my arms.
Why was it so cold in here? The bathroom had become a freezer—I could see my breath. Puffing little clouds, I turned around to check the long bank of stalls again.
“It’s your imagination, Lenzi,” I whispered, trying to calm my heart.
“Help me,” the voice of the child begged between sobs.
“This is not real,” I chanted. “I’m not hearing anything.”
“Please, please,” the voice cried.
Maybe there was someone there?
I walked slowly down the length of the bathroom toward the crying, which was coming from the handicap-accessible stall at the end. It was like I was in one of those slasher films where the characters can’t resist finding the source of the scary sounds. Only, in the movies, this kind of thing always happens in the dark with no one around. The girls’ bathroom was flooded with light, and I could hear students outside in the hallway.
I gently pushed the stall door open, but no one was there. I stepped inside. Maybe someone was crouching behind the door.
The second I let go, the door slammed shut behind me with a metallic bang.
“I need your help,” the same small voice cried, now from right next to me.
I flinched so hard I smacked my head on the steel stall divider. Fear masked the pain from the lump rising on the back of my skull. There was no one there. I was hearing things, just like he did.
I had to get out. Now!
I yanked the door handle to escape. It wouldn’t budge. My fingers fumbled with the lock, but it was stuck. Gripping the handle, I tugged hard.
“Oh, my God!” I yelled. “Let me out!”
The main door to the bathroom rattled like someone was pulling on it, and I heard shouting out in the hallway. It was Ms. Mueller, who taught eleventh-grade history. Her voice cut through my terror.
“Miss Anderson! How did the door to this restroom get locked?”
Too freaked out to even answer, I slapped the stall door with my hands. “Get me out of here!” The temperature dropped again, and my teeth chattered.
“Help me, please,” the child whispered in my ear.
“Let me out of here! Please help me.” I dropped to my hands and knees and wiggled under the stall door, clambering to get away from the voice. I jumped to my feet and bolted toward the exit. I jerked the handle of the door to the hallway, but it didn’t open. I yanked again. Nothing. I twisted with all my strength on the knob—still nothing.
“I need your help.”
“Please,” I whispered. “Please go away and leave me alone.” I slid down the door and curled into a ball, shivering. Clamping my eyes shut, I prayed it was a waking dream that would end any second. That I wasn’t crazy. That I wasn’t hallucinating like he did.
A faint sniffling came from the far end of the bathroom, as if the child were weeping. I could barely hear it over the chattering of my teeth. For a moment, I wanted to reach out, offer some comfort. Instead, I unfurled and sat up. “Go away!”
“I can’t help you. I won’t help you.” I shook my head, hands over my ears to block out the sound. “You’re not real.”
The weeping stopped.
I sat in the frozen silence. Listening. Praying.
“Not real,” I whispered.
The temperature returned to normal.
Ms. Mueller was whacking on the door again. “Unlock the door this minute,” she demanded.
I pushed myself up and wrapped my fingers around the door handle, almost afraid to try it. If it didn’t open this time, I was going to start screaming again, and I didn’t think I’d be able to stop.
After a deep, shaky breath, I turned the knob. It released, and the door swung open easily. Trembling, I took several steps back. I closed my eyes against Ms. Mueller’s glare and the curious looks from my classmates. The kind of looks I’d seen so many times as a child. The looks people gave my dad when he had episodes. The looks reserved for crazy people. People like me.
“You’re lucky you didn’t get detention, Lenzi,” Mom said on the way out of the counselor’s office. “Running out of class without permission and locking yourself in the bathroom. That’s not like you. Has something happened?”
All the way to the car I wanted to tell her—I really did, but I couldn’t do it; it would break her heart, just like it was breaking mine. My chest ached when I thought of what she’d been through and what she might have to go through again.
Sliding into the car, I rolled a hair band off my wrist and pulled my hair back in a ponytail. “I didn’t lock the door. It just got stuck or something.”
Mom pulled her sunglasses case out of her purse. “The counselor said you were screaming.”
Tightening the hair band one more twist, I grimaced when my fingers brushed the lump on the back of my head. “Yeah, it scared me when the door wouldn’t open.”
She shoved the glasses case back in her purse and turned in her seat to face me. “Do you want to talk to somebody, Lenzi? Dr. Alexander said you could see her anytime.”
Not this again. I leaned over, pretending to search for something in the outside pocket of my backpack. Right now I wasn’t up to an argument. Imagined or not, the episode in the bathroom with the invisible bogeyman—no, bogeybaby—had taken all the fight out of me. I was going crazy.
I snapped the seat belt, leaned my seat back, and closed my eyes.
Like flickering snapshots, images of the cemetery in Galveston where Dad was buried flashed through my head. I opened my eyes, and they stopped.
Mom stared at me, her hand on the keys in the ignition. “Are you okay, Lenzi?”
“Yeah, I’m fine, Mom. I just want to get home and shower before Zak takes me out for my birthday.”
She started the car. “I’m sorry I have to work tonight, Lenzi. I’ll make it up to you next weekend.”
“It’s fine, Mom. Really.” And it was. This was my first birthday without Dad, and hanging out with Zak would make it easier.
I closed my eyes again, and the images flickered. The gate to the cemetery; the marker on Dad’s grave; a tall Celtic cross; a marble angel with a cracked face; a tall, thin guy. The guy was smiling. I liked him. I missed him. With a gasp, I opened my eyes.
Mom was staring straight ahead, concentrating on the road.
I was losing my mind—no doubt about it. First the voices, and now I was having some kind of hallucinations. My dad had given me a gift this year after all: his schizophrenia.
“Happy birthday, Lenzi,” I whispered under my breath.
At my request, Zak canceled our dinner reservation and picked up sandwiches from my favorite deli. A picnic on my living room floor was the perfect birthday party. Especially with the day I’d had.
“How about a spot under this magnificent oak tree?” he said, gesturing to the support beam across the ceiling. He flipped a blanket in the air, spreading it over the wood floor. “Perfect amount of shade.”
I sat cross-legged on the corner of the blanket while he pulled a sandwich out of the bag, unwrapped it, and peeked inside. “Pastrami for me.” He pulled another out. “And roast beef for the lady.”
I removed my sandwich from the paper wrapper and set it on a napkin. “Thanks for keeping tonight low-key.”
“Wanna talk about it?” He popped the top of a Coke and set it next to my knee.
I took a bite and shook my head. He knew I’d been hearing a static buzz for a few days, but the voice thing was different. I wasn’t ready to tell him yet.
He shrugged and went to work on his food.
The sandwich wrapper was my favorite texture. Thin and pliable, but stiff enough to hold creases. I closed my eyes and made a fold, then the cross-fold. My fingers slid across the waxy surface as if of their own accord. Folding over, folding under, then a tuck inside a previous pleat. Every piece of paper had its own personality and dictated its shape. This wrapper was a flower. Another petal materialized. I could feel my stress transferring into the hard folds, and I began to relax. The creation of beauty from something formless. I opened my eyes to find Zak smiling. I couldn’t help but grin back.
“You do that a lot.” He nodded to my hands. “Make stuff out of paper.”
I rotated the flower in my hand and folded another petal. “It calms me down. I started doing it when I was twelve, when Dad was hospitalized for the first time.”
He popped a couple of chips into his mouth, watching me tuck in the folds of another petal. “So did someone teach you, or did you learn it online or from a book or something?”
I bent the tip of a center petal to curve it. “No. I kind of figured it out on my own, I guess.”
“Help me, please, ” the child’s voice cried from right next to me.
I jumped to my feet and backed away, hand over mouth, heart hammering.
Zak was at my side immediately. “What is it, Lenzi?” He placed his hands on my shoulders. “Lenzi?”
“It’s, um . . .”
“I need your help.”
Not again. I looked in the direction of the voice. “I can’t help you.”
Zak gave me a little shake. “You okay, babe? Who’re you talking to?”
The tears welling in my eyes stung and blurred my vision as the child’s sobbing faded to silence.
“Lenzi!” He held my face in his hands. “Lenzi, look at me.”
I couldn’t bring myself to meet his eyes in case he was giving me the you’re-a-crazy-person look, so instead, I wrapped my arms around him and crushed my body to his, feeling safer near his size and warmth.
“It’s not just noise in my head anymore,” I whispered against his chest. “Now I’m hearing voices. Just like Dad.”
I could barely hear him over my sobs. Hearing voices was terrifying, but losing Zak would be worse. He was the only thing anchoring me to reality.
“Shhh,” he whispered into my hair. “Hey. ’S gonna be okay. You’re not your dad.” He rubbed his hands up and down my spine and kissed the top of my head while I caught my breath.
I nodded, still unable to look him in the eye. I focused on the tingly trail his hands were leaving on my back rather than the churning dread in my chest. Telling him about the voices didn’t make me feel better. It just made my worst fear seem more real.
He stopped rubbing my back and leaned down to look at me, smoothing my hair away from my face. “I have a present for you.”
We’d agreed he wouldn’t get me a present. He was struggling to pay his bills and community college tuition, so we’d decided dinner was enough. But before I could protest, he put his finger to my lips. “Nuh-uh. I didn’t pay for anything. I made it myself.”
He took my hand and led me to the sofa. “Sit here, and I’ll be right back.” He flashed a grin, dimples and all, and disappeared through the front door, returning in moments with his guitar case. He snapped it open, pulled out his guitar, and sat on the coffee table in front of me. “Ready?” he asked, tuning it.
I leaned back and took a deep breath. Maybe he was right. Maybe I wasn’t like Dad. I nodded and smiled.
I could sort of play the guitar, but Zak was a fantastic musician. He was especially good at Spanish classical, which I couldn’t play at all. Dad could a little bit, but not like Zak. I watched in amazement as his fingers flew over the strings, creating a complex, bittersweet tune. Within only a few measures, I found myself breathing in time with the rhythm, heart in sync with the melody line. The song built, and by the end, I was completely engrossed, almost out of breath when the vibrations of the last chord stopped humming through the wood of his guitar.
“Wow,” was all I could manage.
Zak smiled and set his guitar in the case. “You like it?”
“Love it. You just made that up?”
He straightened and ran his hands through his thick hair. “Not just now. I’ve been working on it for a while.”
Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes