TITLE: The Life and Adventures of Miss Gretchen Grey
GENRE: YA Historical Paranormal
'How do you punish someone who's already dead?' Gretchen Grey tightened her grip around an umbrella handle while she waited for her parents to arrive. Her eyes flickered absently over the London townhouse where she had grown up. Thick green ivy cast shadow around the entrance and spread towards the outer corners, almost reaching the top floor panes. Looking at it from afar, it seemed her home rested in the palm of a giant murky green claw.
Mira appeared in the doorway and opened her umbrella against the pelting rain. "Gretchen child! There's no reason to wait outside."
Gretchen tore her gaze away from the townhouse and looked up at the chambermaid.
"You know that's not true," she answered softly.
Mira gave her shoulder a gentle pat. The sound of heavy steps and subdued voices drifted towards them from the interior of the London townhouse before her parents emerged.
They carried her mother's casket out first. It was a rich mahogany, etched with gold. Gretchen imagined her mother would have approved. She'd had an eye for detail that many admired.
The group of men was followed out by a second assembly. Her father's coffin was almost identical to her mother's, though a bit longer. Her father had been a tall man, after all. Gretchen's breath caught in her throat and her hand flew up to clutch Mira's as it rested on her shoulder.
'This is all my fault.'
The heavy wooden coffins were lifted higher and carried out into the street where the funeral carriages waited to transport them to their final resting place. It only took them a moment to load their cargo, and then they were off.
Her father's lawyer appeared in the entranceway. He closed and locked the front doors behind him and Mira had already begun towards their awaiting carriage. Gretchen followed. It suddenly hit her that she would never again see her home or her family within it. A dull ache lingered where her heart should be. Heat beat from it, up towards her cheeks, her throat, and her eyes.
She found the courage to turn and look upon the old townhouse one last time. Her chest rose in a painful sigh. It looked nothing like it did when she was a child. There were no flowers, no sun, no happy memories that filled the place with cheer and light. HE had taken those. HE had taken everything. HE had won. The house was his. Gretchen imagined for a moment the poor families that might be tempted to buy the townhouse and find themselves victims of his evil in turn.
She shuddered at the thought.
A movement caught her eye from the upstairs window; the window that once sheltered her childhood bedchamber. He was there. The one who had killed her parents. She could feel him watching her.
She imagined her porcelain dolls, stuffed bears, picture frames, and embroidered bed covers; all of her family heirlooms, being tainted and stained by his very presence. She looked up through the window and found the familiar black eyes glaring at her from the depths of the darkness.
Hate and fury overwhelmed her but she kept her head steady as she stared back at him, betraying no emotion. Under her breath she uttered her final farewell to her birthplace.
"One day, when I am grown, I shall come back and put an end to you."
She sent this final threat through the gloom, feeling it with all of her being. She didn't know if he had heard or understood but she thought she saw a dual flash of red behind the window panes. Then all was dark as she turned on her heels and followed Mira into the carriage.
Gretchen knew that her parents' deaths were anything but an accident. She had known ever since recieving Mira's letter at her boarding school in Winchester four days ago. She had begun to dream that night. And whenever Gretchen Grey dreamt, one could be certain that reality was not far behind.