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A division of Penguin Young Readers Group. Published by The Penguin Group. Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014, U.S.A. Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.). Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England. Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd). Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd). Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India. Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd). Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa. Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England.
Copyright © 2011 by Mary Lindsey. All rights reserved.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Lindsey, Mary 1963–Shattered souls / by Mary Lindsey. p. cm. Summary: When a Texas high school student starts hearing voices, she assumes she is schizophrenic like her father, but instead she finds out that she is a “Speaker” who can communicate with the dead in order to help their troubled souls find resolution. [1. Ghosts—Fiction. 2. Future life—Fiction. 3. Supernatural—Fiction. 4. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 5 Galveston (Tex.)—History—20th century—Fiction.] I. Title. PZ7.L6613Sh 2011 [Fic]—dc22 2010044251
ISBN : 978-1-101-53813-5
I couldn’t have asked for a more professional or supportive group to guide me through my first publishing experience than the amazing folks at Philomel—especially Jill Santopolo, who pulled out her editorial defibrillator paddles and shocked additional life into my story. Thanks (also) to Julia Johnson, Ana Deboo, and Cindy Howle for helping to get my novel in gear with their keen observations and smart copyedits. I also owe a special shout-out to the Penguin art department for creating the most beautiful cover I’ve ever seen.
This book never would have happened without Wonder Agent Ammi-Joan Paquette. I appreciate your unwavering optimism and confidence in me and your rare ability to deliver the killing blows as skillfully as the roses.
Thank you to my QueryTracker family, especially Patrick McDonald, brainstormer extraordinaire and ever-present shoulder-to-cry-on; to H. L. Dyer, M.D., Carolyn Kaufman, Psy.D., and my sweet “sis” Suzette Saxton for reading and critiquing countless versions of this story; to my lovely, patient friend Jennifer Hunt, who endured many miles and hours with Lenzi, Alden and me (are you sick of us yet?); to Lynn Lorenz for the lightning-quick, sometimes middle-of-the-night emergency rescues; to Stephanie Pickett for loving me no matter how obnoxious I got; and to Suzanne Semans and the studio girls, who provided more encouragement and enthusiasm than a pep squad.
Most of all, I want to express my gratitude to my family, who endured all manner of inconvenience while I struck out in a new direction. Robert, you kept me laughing. Emily, you kept me going. Hannah, you kept me real. Laine, you kept me happy—you always have. I love you guys.
True love is like ghosts, which everybody talks about
and few have seen.
—François, duc de La Rochefoucauld, 1613–1680
he voice of a small child called out from somewhere behind me.
“Please. I need your help.”
I twisted around, heart pounding in my ears, and stared at the empty row of bathroom stalls.
I couldn’t be like him. I refused.
Flipping on the sink faucet, I splashed water on my face and took some deep breaths to calm down. This was my imagination, nothing more.
The water dripping down my neck made me shiver. I yanked out a few paper towels and dabbed myself dry, then tossed them in the trash bin. Shaking, I rubbed my arms.
Why was it so cold in here? The bathroom had become a freezer—I could see my breath. Puffing little clouds, I turned around to check the long bank of stalls again.
“It’s your imagination, Lenzi,” I whispered, trying to calm my heart.
the voice of the child begged between sobs.
“This is not real,” I chanted. “I’m not hearing anything.”
the voice cried.
I walked slowly down the length of the bathroom toward the crying, which was coming from the handicap-accessible stall at the end. It was like I was in one of those slasher films where the characters can’t resist finding the source of the scary sounds. Only, in the movies, this kind of thing always happens in the dark with no one around. The girls’ bathroom was flooded with light, and I could hear students outside in the hallway.
I gently pushed the stall door open, but no one was there. I stepped inside. Maybe someone was crouching behind the door.
The second I let go, the door slammed shut behind me with a metallic bang.
“I need your help,”
the same small voice cried, now from right next to me.
I flinched so hard I smacked my head on the steel stall divider. Fear masked the pain from the lump rising on the back of my skull. There was no one there. I was hearing things, just like he did.
I had to get out. Now!
I yanked the door handle to escape. It wouldn’t budge. My fingers fumbled with the lock, but it was stuck. Gripping the handle, I tugged hard.
“Oh, my God!” I yelled. “Let me out!”
The main door to the bathroom rattled like someone was pulling on it, and I heard shouting out in the hallway. It was Ms. Mueller, who taught eleventh-grade history. Her voice cut through my terror.
“Miss Anderson! How did the door to this restroom get locked?”
Too freaked out to even answer, I slapped the stall door with my hands. “Get me out of here!” The temperature dropped again, and my teeth chattered.
“Help me, please,”
the child whispered in my ear.
“Miss Anderson! Open this door!” Ms. Mueller shouted from the hallway.
“Let me out of here! Please help me.” I dropped to my hands and knees and wiggled under the stall door, clambering to get away from the voice. I jumped to my feet and bolted toward the exit. I jerked the handle of the door to the hallway, but it didn’t open. I yanked again. Nothing. I twisted with all my strength on the knob—still nothing.
“I need your help.”
“Please,” I whispered. “Please go away and leave me alone.” I slid down the door and curled into a ball, shivering. Clamping my eyes shut, I prayed it was a waking dream that would end any second. That I wasn’t crazy. That I wasn’t hallucinating like he did.
A faint sniffling came from the far end of the bathroom, as if the child were weeping. I could barely hear it over the chattering of my teeth. For a moment, I wanted to reach out, offer some comfort. Instead, I unfurled and sat up. “Go away!”
“I can’t help you. I
help you.” I shook my head, hands over my ears to block out the sound. “You’re not real.”
The weeping stopped.
I sat in the frozen silence. Listening. Praying.
“Not real,” I whispered.
The temperature returned to normal.
Ms. Mueller was whacking on the door again. “Unlock the door this minute,” she demanded.
I pushed myself up and wrapped my fingers around the door handle, almost afraid to try it. If it didn’t open this time, I was going to start screaming again, and I didn’t think I’d be able to stop.
After a deep, shaky breath, I turned the knob. It released, and the door swung open easily. Trembling, I took several steps back. I closed my eyes against Ms. Mueller’s glare and the curious looks from my classmates. The kind of looks I’d seen so many times as a child. The looks people gave my dad when he had episodes. The looks reserved for crazy people. People like me.