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Read "Ghosted," a 2023 Novel Excerpt Contest Runner-Up!

In February, we challenged you to submit a 400-word excerpt from your NaNoWriMo novels. From over 650 fantastic entries, we chose two Grand Prize Winners and four Runners-Up. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did! (For more excerpts, check out this forum thread.)

Ghosted by Ameena T.

Ivy gasped for air, rapidly sitting up. Her hands were knotted in the bedsheets and she was dripping with sweat. She’d jolted awake several times in the last few weeks, and it had been becoming more frequent. But there was something different tonight– it was as if her soul had been sucked from her body.

She scrambled out of the blankets, disoriented by the wooden bunks and scratchy quilt.

Memories flooded back. Running away like the ground was on fire. Following a green-eyed girl through the forest. Finally reaching her family cabin in the woods. Where they could rest. Where they would be okay.

“Inez?” She called nervously, kicking the bunk on top of her. She felt the weight of a body on the mattress, but Inez didn’t stir.

She crawled out of the bed, climbing the ladder to Inez. There she was, lying sound asleep. Her coppery hair was sprawled across the pillow and her body was twisted in the quilt. She was so deep in sleep she almost looked dead. Ivy was surprised she hadn’t woken up, since Inez would normally wake at a loud sniff.

Ivy would let her sleep then. She'd already done enough by letting her stay here. Ivy had probably just woken up from the cold, considering the door was open, letting the frosty night seep into the cozy room. Ivy went to close it, but not before noticing the sedan parked in the front. Where did that come from? She and Inez had come by foot.

Her calloused feet padded along the wood porch, then the soft earth, as Ivy walked outside to inspect the car. Leaves rustled noisily in the eerie forest, sending a chill through her spine. She peeked into the strangely open trunk.

Staring her in the face, with murky, vacant eyes was her body. Her own dead body. Her shoulder-length black hair was matted with slick blood, and her mosquito-bitten arms were contorted in an unnatural manner in order to fit. What? How?

If that was her body, who was she?

She ran back inside, to the makeshift vanity which was just a side table with a mirror on it.

She angled herself so that moonlight would illuminate the room and herself. It did, shedding light on the open wooden door and Inez asleep in the top bunk.

But no matter how hard she stared, no reflection stared back.

author photo

Ameena T. is an aspiring writer who enjoys reading, playing guitar, and swimming in her spare time. She is currently in tenth grade and she loves music, both listening and playing on guitar, piano, and ukulele! She’s passionate about justice for all and recently headed a project of creating and distributing antiracism zines in her community, funded by a grant from her local government. She also loves writing short stories and is also working on some songs and longer novels!

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