TITLE: The Grave Winner
GENRE: YA Paranormal
We stood rooted in place long after Mom's funeral, just the three of us. The weight in my chest threatened to suffocate me if I looked at the lid of her gleaming casket any longer. I focused on the sky instead, at the black birds cutting across the wisps of clouds in a sharp V formation. The thump of my heart echoed the rhythm of their beating wings. They pressed on until the clouds took them from me.
A different flutter in the corner of my eye pulled me back to earth. The movement took a few seconds to penetrate my numb brain until I realized I was staring at a girl. She crept in and out of the crumbling headstones, her body thick with mud and grime. Torn scraps of what looked like a prom dress hung from her scrawny frame. Her mouth sagged open like she was about to scream.
A shudder chased across my shoulder blades. I shook my head, trying to clear it. Darby stood next to me, and I reached out to touch my little sister. She was real. Her ache was real. I felt it in the quiver of her bony body. But beyond her and the heaviness pinching my lungs, I couldn't be sure of anything.
Inky black footprints tracked underneath the dangling hem of the girl's dress like a trail of burnt breadcrumbs. She stopped beside a tree and leaned her back against it.