I mentioned that I’m working on a YA series (and I’m in the process of translating it to Spanish) but as an introduction to that I’ve decided to publish (within the next few weeks) a YA novella that I wrote some time ago. It has a touch of the paranormal and a bit of romance although that is not yet evident in the little taster/teaser I enclose.
I hope you enjoy it! I’ll keep you updated on its publication.
And without further ado, here it is:
Hilda’s friend, Ruth, was the prettiest and loveliest girl in town. Her blond hair was fine and silky, her eyes blue like sapphires, her mouth red like coral. She would have been chanted by the poets of old if she’d lived in a different time. Ruth was the pride and darling of Yorktown. And she was clever enough, and generous and kind. She had it all.
Ruth had a brother too. Max was her twin, but hardly anybody would have guessed that they were related. He was very tall and thin, his hair was thick, curly and black like coal, his eyes grey like slate, and his mouth had thin lips that hardly ever smiled. He was the black sheep of the family, and Ruth and him were known as ‘the angel and the devil’ by the population.
Hilda had known them both all her life. They were the same age, and, in fact, their families were friendly before they were even born. Their parents used to go out on double dates and they got married on a double wedding. They lived in contiguous houses and it was as if they were all members of the same family. Hilda had always felt that it was her duty to befriend Ruth and Max. The task had been very easy with Ruth, she was friendly with everybody, but Max wasn’t an easy boy. As a child, when they played together, he used to torture animals, insects, fight with other children…Ruth always shied away from him, she couldn’t bear any type of violence, but Hilda wasn’t squeamish, and Max had always assumed that Hilda approved of what he did. She told him many times that she didn’t like his behaviour but he insisted that her words were only a pose. Max was always as nasty as he could be towards his sister. He put dead animals in her bed, maggots in her food, ruined her dresses…Once Hilda stopped him when he was about to set his sleeping sister’s hair on fire. Ruth woke up with the discussion and slapped him when she heard what he was about to do, but he only laughed. No threats from Ruth, no warnings from his parents, no punishment from his teachers made any difference to him.
The summer of the twins’ seventeenth birthday, Max had given everybody a break by deciding to go camping with some other youngsters. They had had two weeks of peace, and the two families had been preparing the twins’ birthday party at ease, in perfect tranquillity.
“Oh no, he’s back” Hilda’s father, Steph, mumbled under his breath.
“Go to see what he wants, before we all end up deaf or mad.” Mandy, Hilda’s mother, ordered.
“All right, all right. I’ll go.”
Hilda marched into the garden feeling like a martyr. The sacrifices she had to make to keep the peace! Max was restlessly running up and down his garden. He opened his mouth and began:
“Hi…Oh, you are here.”
“Yes, Max. Here I am. Do you always have to be so noisy?”
“Shut up! I must show you something.” He grabbed Hilda by the arm and dragged her over the fence.
“Be careful, will you?”
“Sorry. Come, quick.”
Hilda and Max entered the house through the back door of the lounge, opening into the garden. Hilda said hello in passing to Max’s mother, Eleanor, and his father, Patrick. Ruth was sitting in her room, with the door open.
“Oh Ruth, how…?”
Max pushed Hilda into his room.
“Don’t talk to her. You aren’t here to talk to her. You’ve come to see something.”
“When will you grow up, Max? I’m your sister’s friend too, and…”
“Stop it, please. Look…”
Max switched the lights on. His room was painted in black, walls and ceiling, with strange cabalistic inscriptions and devilish drawings. It was always dark inside. Once he made light, he took his T-shirt off and showed Hilda his back.
“What do you think?”
Hilda was speechless. It was an incredible tattoo. A black eagle, with spread wings, attacking a white dove. The eagle’s beak was dripping blood, and the red colour of the tattoo was very intense, quasi pulsating. The dove had blue eyes and was carrying a branch of wheat. The eagle’s eyes were grey and the wings looked shiny and iridescent. It was an extremely vivid tattoo. And the meaning was too clear for Hilda to be able to ignore it. Max always called Ruth ‘the white dove’. It was horrible.
“Why did you do that, Max?”
“There was a guy incredibly good with tattoos nearby. It’s my own design.”
“I’ve noticed that.”
“Why don’t you like it? Isn’t it good?”
“It’s good. Real good. But, what does it mean?”
“Mean?…Nothing. It’s only a tattoo.”
Max tried his most innocent expression, but it didn’t come natural to him. Not convincing at all.
“I don’t like the imagery.” Ruth said.
“Imagery. Lovely word. I love how you talk, like a book.”
Ruth turned her back on Max and stepped toward the door.
“Wait, wait! I have another tattoo!”
“If it’s like this one I’d rather not see it, thank you.”
“Oh no, it’s very different. Guess where it is.”
Ruth had stopped and turned to look at Max, but shook her head and carried walking.
“I’m not interested in games, Max. I have things to do.”
Max ran to the door to prevent Hilda from leaving.
“Come on…I’ve been away for two weeks and you haven’t even asked me how it was or how I am, or nothing. I’ve missed you, you know? And you don’t even care enough to ask.” He whined.
“You haven’t asked me either. You only came shouting…”
“OK, I’m sorry. I just had to show it to someone or I would have exploded. I haven’t showed it to anybody.”
“Is it a surprise then?”
“Yes, yes. You won’t tell, will you?”
Max and his secrets. Hilda had been selected as his official confidant many years back and she had never managed to get rid of the privilege. Although, Max never quite confessed everything. He always kept something to himself. That made things slightly easier for Hilda. Sometimes. Sometimes it made them worse.
“You’ll have to show your parents. They’ll find out.”
“I will, soon…But keep it quiet in the meantime, OK?”
“Now, guess where I have the other tattoo.”
Thank you for reading, and of course…feel free to guess…I might or might not reveal the location of Max’s second tattoo…
Ah, on Friday guest author Judith Priay!