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Ghosted [Chapter 1.1]

by Magebird


word count: 1147

Chapter 1

Picture this: you’re seven years old and you’re suddenly whisked off to some town you’ve never heard of. Your parents don't know that you’re leaving behind all of the friends they can’t see. Even more importantly, they don’t care about you leaving behind your beloved Rosie Grey. The two of you did everything together; you can’t imagine a world that doesn’t involve her. You spend the next ten years of your life fantasizing about returning to your childhood. You try to comfort yourself by flitting between graveyards and other forgotten spectral haunts. You befriend ghosts, lose those ghosts as they pass on or are otherwise taken, and repeat the cycle countless times. You become the kid that everyone avoids at school (even when you pull straight As on all of your report cards) because no one else can see said ghost.

After some time, your parents realize that maybe the move wasn’t the best idea. It’s not because of your actions. They never really cared about you. The real regret is that your mom’s new job doesn’t pay as much as the one she had ten years ago. And – surprise! – that old job is hiring. So you pack your belongings, say goodbye to the ghosts you’ve barely just met, and move back to that town you’ve been dreaming about for your entire teenage career.

But then you get there.You go to your favorite place and look for your old friends. The ghosts you knew aren’t there anymore. They haven’t been for some time. There’s new ghosts there that have heard stories of you and knew the previous ghosts, but it isn’t the same. Your old partner-in-crime shows up, but she isn’t the same, either.

The old Rosie Grey’s clothes had always been ready for a good bout of roughhousing. You had even lent her a pair of your cousin’s old jeans one time when she wanted to play in the mud and her dad said her pants were too good for that. You can’t imagine this Rosie stubbornly finding a way to spend time in the great outdoors. Her thin winter gloves and fall coat are all in similar shades of a subtle gray. Her sneakers are nowhere to be found; instead, you find that she’s wearing a pair of boots. Not combat boots like your own - high-heeled, fashionable brown boots that you had always joked about when you saw high schoolers wearing them years ago. Even the way that her hair is styled hints that she had lost her wild touch.

Still, you trust her. You go through the motions that you did when you were a kid. You have a better sense of humor than you did back then, so you add in a few nice smirks and offhand comments she doesn’t appreciate as much as you thought she would. Things are going sour, but you don’t think they’ll go too bad. You can salvage this.

Then she says the words she’s never supposed to say.

And those ten years of hoping and wishing and praying are all for nothing.

Welcome to my life.

It was the day after my disastrous return to South Haven. I rarely wanted to get out of bed early in the morning, but I especially didn’t want to do it that day. I woke up a good twenty minutes later than I probably should have. I popped some bread into the toaster and nursed it as my parents talked off in the living room. It almost reminded me of when I was seven years old, but this wasn’t the same house. The kitchen hadn’t been so close to the front door back then. I tried not to think about whoever had bought the house after we moved away; it had never really been my favorite place in South Haven, anyways.

I rushed to get ready. I put on my very best (and only) black leather jacket in the hopes that I’d make a good impression on my former classmates. I had seen the inside of the high school a few times before. It wasn’t anything to get excited about. It was so old that they couldn’t replace the windows because the right size pane was no longer being manufactured. There was even a healthy dose of asbestos lurking in the ceiling.

I stood outside in the surprisingly cold weather and caught an unsurprisingly obnoxious bright yellow bus. I was one of the first kids on it. Naturally, I claimed one of the seats in the far back of it. I would have taken the single seat there, but some kid had already beaten me to it. We made eye contact for a few seconds - me giving him a look - but the kid refused to budge.

...At the very least, I could admire his dedication.

The bus went through a series of stops. The streets almost looked familiar. It wasn’t until we came to a stop in front of a house that occasionally showed up in my memories that I realized Rose and I were on the same bus route. We had hoped that would happen for years, but it looked like the school busing system had a sense of irony. I rolled my eyes when I saw her join up with a far-too-formal looking guy. Gelled back brown hair, pristine collared white shirt, and black dress pants - the guy looked like he was going to work at some fancy business, not heading off to another dreary day at South Haven High.

Rose stepped onto the bus. Everyone in the seats she passed gave her a wide berth. It looked like Rose had picked up an instrument: an impressively large tuba. It was so large that she needed an entire seat for both her and the case.

Leaving the boy she was making lovey-dovey eyes at to sit down in the nearest seat.

For a little context: the only empty seat on the bus was the one right in front of me. And the only one that had space for one more person near that seat was mine. I rolled my eyes for a second time and looked out the window as he sat down. Rose didn’t even notice me at first; that wasn’t much of a surprise.

When I glanced over at the two, the boy had rested his arms against the back of Rose’s seat. He had a dreamy, soft look to his green eyes as he stared at my ex-best friend. I tried my best to remain emotionless, but a frown stubbornly flickered across my face.

“I hate band days,” the boy said.

Rose laughed. I shifted a little in my seat. I had forgotten how much I had missed that laugh of hers. “Theo, we have all of our classes together. We’ll make up for it then.”

“But I want to sit with you now,” he said, resting his hand on hers.

I rolled my eyes again.

“Well,” she said, a mischievous little smile dancing across her lips. There was my Rosie. “If a certain Theodore Mendel had gotten his license earlier, he could have been driving me to school by now. And the tuba could have been thrown into his car’s trunk-”

She faltered.

“Rosebud?” he asked. “What’s wrong?”

I did my best not to retch at the pet name. Seeing how Rose was staring at me now helped just a bit.

“Van-” Rose started to say.

Whatever she had been about to tell me, she never got a chance to finish.

Everything happened so quickly that I barely had a chance to register it all. I’d later find out the more specific details, but what happened was as follows:

The bus stopped at a light that had turned red faster than expected. A truck that had been tailgating the bus for the past two streets didn’t see the light change - and it didn’t help that the driver was texting. The front of the truck collided with the back of the bus with a loud satisfying crunch as the truck driver tried to steer the truck away. He only partially succeeded; it just hit the side of the bus that I was on.

I felt pain. I felt another bleeding body as I was knocked into Theodore Mendel by the collision. I felt a strange, familiar warmth. And as my world fell into darkness, I heard a voice I knew I should have recognized say words that I could barely hear.


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Wed Feb 24, 2021 3:55 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Hey Mage, sorry for the delay in reviewing but here I am for chapter one :)

Even more importantly, they don’t care about you leaving behind your beloved Rosie Grey. The two of you did everything together; you can’t imagine a world that doesn’t involve her. You spend the next ten years of your life fantasizing about returning to your childhood.

I'd maybe like to get an idea of how far away Van actually moves. Presumably it's far away because he never visits Rosie but do they never call? I guess not because they're young?

The beginning section of this is kind of vague. Of course it helps that we read the prologue so we have an idea of what's going on but where it's written in second person goes on for slightly too long for me personally and I feel like if I wasn't already invested in the story (because of all the wonderful things I've seen you posting about it) I might not be as keen to read on. I think you could find a bit of a stronger hook :)

I tried not to think about whoever had bought the house after we moved away; it had never really been my favorite place in South Haven, anyways.

Interesting, I wonder why he didn't like it! Wasn't it full of happy memories of him and Rosie?

Also, I'd like to agree with Spearmint in that the nursing a piece of toast sounded a little weird to me. I'm pretty sure that's an expression more commonly applied to a kind of drink rather than actual food. It's not necessarily wrong it just sounded a bit odd!

Rose stepped onto the bus. Everyone in the seats she passed gave her a wide berth. It looked like Rose had picked up an instrument: an impressively large tuba. It was so large that she needed an entire seat for both her and the case.

This is excellent xD

Leaving the boy she was making lovey-dovey eyes at to sit down in the nearest seat.

The formal looking guy?

And the only one that had space for one more person near that seat was mine.

I didn't follow this sentence, I think you might be missing a word but I can't work out where!

Rose didn’t even notice me at first; that wasn’t much of a surprise.

Why not? I thought they used to be friends?

The bus stopped at a light that had turned red faster than expected. A truck that had been tailgating the bus for the past two streets didn’t see the light change - and it didn’t help that the driver was texting. The front of the truck collided with the back of the bus with a loud satisfying crunch as the truck driver tried to steer the truck away. He only partially succeeded; it just hit the side of the bus that I was on.

Ooh an immediate cliffhanger! I feel like this would have been a good end to the chapter so I'm interested to see that this is only part one. I guess I'll find out how you continue it when I read on!

I hope this was helpful, and I can't wait to get to know your characters!

Icy




Magebird says...


Hi Icy! Thank you again for the review. <3

I'd maybe like to get an idea of how far away Van actually moves. Presumably it's far away because he never visits Rosie but do they never call? I guess not because they're young?


I, uh, just realized I never came up with where he moved to and probably should do that. >> Thanks for pointing that out! I'll have to include that in later chapters/when I revise this chapter. I think it was pretty far across the country.

(In the very first draft, Van lived with different foster families - so it was really easy for him to fall out of touch with people he knew. It's also why I never settled on a specific place in this draft; it completely slipped my mind when revising. But I definitely need to figure out more of a reason why they didn't keep in touch!)

Interesting, I wonder why he didn't like it! Wasn't it full of happy memories of him and Rosie?


Good question! I'm not sure if the next chapters ever explain it or not, but they usually hung out at Rose's house or at the graveyard - so he doesn't really have fond memories of his old house.

And thanks for pointing out the nursing the toast comment, too! :)

The formal looking guy?


Yup! :)

I didn't follow this sentence, I think you might be missing a word but I can't work out where!


Thanks for pointing out that problem! I'll figure it out when doing revisions. c:

Why not? I thought they used to be friends?


Van is being Dramatic%u2122 and feels like he's been totally forgotten - even though things are a little more complicated than that. :P

Ooh an immediate cliffhanger! I feel like this would have been a good end to the chapter so I'm interested to see that this is only part one. I guess I'll find out how you continue it when I read on!


Thanks!! I'm glad the cliffhanger worked so well. <3

And your review definitely helped! It showed me some grammatical stuff I needed to fix, as well as more story-related issues that needed to be ironed out.



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Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:49 pm
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Spearmint wrote a review...



Hello, Spearmint here! Overall, I really enjoyed this piece, especially Van’s character (the eye rolls and giving that bus seat kid a “look” XD). I’ll definitely be reading Chapter 1.2, right after this review!

Okay, on to some suggestions (please bear in mind, I can be rather picky, so take all this with a grain of salt :)). Firstly, I was a bit thrown off by “I popped some bread into the toaster and nursed it.” Personally I’ve never heard of anyone nursing a piece of bread (I think it’s usually like a cup of coffee?), but that may just be me being uncultured. Moving on, the part describing Rose and Theo’s seating arrangements (“the only one that had space for one more person near that seat was mine”) left me sort of confused. I think I get the general idea, that Rose and Theo were sitting near Van, but the description seemed a little unnecessary. Perhaps you could just shorten it to “the only empty seats on the bus were right in front of me” or something? All right, last thing: the explanation before the bus crash feels a little like it takes away from the flow of the piece. When I was reading the part “I’d later find out the more specific details,” at the moment I didn’t particularly care about later; I wanted to read about now. In my opinion, I think it might work better to end the piece soon after “she never got a chance to finish”, in order to keep the reader hooked. Maybe shorten it to something like: “...never got a chance to finish. I heard an alarming crunch as the bus collided with something, and I was knocked into Theodore Mendel. As my world fell into darkness...” Of course, you don’t have to take any of these suggestions! Keep what you want and ignore the rest. :D

In conclusion (sorry, I promise this isn’t an essay XD), this seems like an exciting start to your novel and I can’t wait to read the other chapters! Keep writing!




Magebird says...


Hi Spearmint! Thank you so much for your review!!

Firstly, I was a bit thrown off by %u201CI popped some bread into the toaster and nursed it.%u201D Personally I%u2019ve never heard of anyone nursing a piece of bread (I think it%u2019s usually like a cup of coffee?), but that may just be me being uncultured.


That's definitely not you being uncultured! I sometimes Van very much train-of-consciousness style, so there's a few weird phrases and sentences here and there that I haven't caught/edited. Thank you so much for pointing out the wording issue!!

I think I get the general idea, that Rose and Theo were sitting near Van, but the description seemed a little unnecessary. Perhaps you could just shorten it to %u201Cthe only empty seats on the bus were right in front of me%u201D or something?


That sounds like a great idea! I'll definitely do that. :)

All right, last thing: the explanation before the bus crash feels a little like it takes away from the flow of the piece. When I was reading the part %u201CI%u2019d later find out the more specific details,%u201D at the moment I didn%u2019t particularly care about later; I wanted to read about now. In my opinion, I think it might work better to end the piece soon after %u201Cshe never got a chance to finish%u201D, in order to keep the reader hooked. Maybe shorten it to something like: %u201C...never got a chance to finish. I heard an alarming crunch as the bus collided with something, and I was knocked into Theodore Mendel. As my world fell into darkness...%u201D Of course, you don%u2019t have to take any of these suggestions! Keep what you want and ignore the rest.


Oooh that's good to know! I didn't realize it would take away from the flow of the scene. I'll probably try rewriting it later on to see if it fits what I have in mind for the story, but thank you so much for pointing that out. <3

And I'm glad you enjoyed the beginning of my novel! I'll definitely tag you when the other chapters come out. c:



Spearmint says...


Thanks for replying to my review! <33
Excited for the next chapter :D



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Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:04 pm
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Vil wrote a review...



Alrighty, let's see what we've got here! I haven't read the prologue yet, please forgive me XD

Picture this: you’re seven years old and you’re suddenly whisked off to some town you’ve never heard of. Your parents don't know that you’re leaving behind all of the friends they can’t see. Even more importantly, they don’t care about you leaving behind your beloved Rosie Grey. The two of you did everything together; you can’t imagine a world that doesn’t involve her. You spend the next ten years of your life fantasizing about returning to your childhood. You try to comfort yourself by flitting between graveyards and other forgotten spectral haunts. You befriend ghosts, lose those ghosts as they pass on or are otherwise taken, and repeat the cycle countless times. You become the kid that everyone avoids at school (even when you pull straight As on all of your report cards) because no one else can see said ghost.


Me: *is scrambling to find a way to relate to this*
Also Me: *holds up childhood stuffed animals that I've had for years*

After some time, your parents realize that maybe the move wasn’t the best idea. It’s not because of your actions. They never really cared about you. The real regret is that your mom’s new job doesn’t pay as much as the one she had ten years ago. And – surprise! – that old job is hiring. So you pack your belongings, say goodbye to the ghosts you’ve barely just met, and move back to that town you’ve been dreaming about for your entire teenage career.


I feel this! I may have lived in Tennessee all my life, but I've lived in quite a few different towns. One is placed I've lived in twice at different times, and it's sad when we go to visit cause we have to leave again ;-;

Overall, I'm interested, but I don't think this story would be my cup of tea. I'd be more than willing to recommend this story to others I intend to repost your post about it as soon as I finish this review, but I'm too picky with my fiction for my own good-- supernatural tends to be out of my interest, barring necromancy, of course :P

Have a nice [*insert time of day*]!!!




Magebird says...


Thank you so much for your review!!

Me: *is scrambling to find a way to relate to this*
Also Me: *holds up childhood stuffed animals that I've had for years*


mood

[ i legit have two stuffed animals on my bed right now that i've had for the past few years- ]

I feel this! I may have lived in Tennessee all my life, but I've lived in quite a few different towns. One is placed I've lived in twice at different times, and it's sad when we go to visit cause we have to leave again ;-;


I'm sorry that you related to it. :( But I'm also happy that it came across so realistically! I've always lived in the same town, so the only experience this is really based on is me spending more time in it after commuting to college before covid.

Overall, I'm interested, but I don't think this story would be my cup of tea. I'd be more than willing to recommend this story to others I intend to repost your post about it as soon as I finish this review, but I'm too picky with my fiction for my own good-- supernatural tends to be out of my interest, barring necromancy, of course :P


And that's definitely okay! It strays the line between supernatural and high fantasy with a little bit of necromancy, technically later on, but I totally understand this story not being your cup of tea. I'm just grateful you decided to review this chapter to help it get out of the green room!!



Vil says...


<333



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Oh I love it! I'm sorry, I can't write good reviews, so I won't, but... this is a seriously good story !





But what about second breakfast?
— Peregrin Took