Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Word Count: 55,000
Devya Mallick is not a murderer, even if she’s killed in 649 past lives. Even if her basement is full of bodies. She’s not a killer, so why is there blood under her fingernails?
Always, someone is watching.
Right now it’s Mam eyeing me from across the dinner table, a crease between her eyebrows—so deep that her bindi is folded in half, hiding all sign of the little red dot. It’s as if she’s trying to figure out how to prevent me from bashing in my brother’s skull with the bowl full of lentils.
I pretend I don’t notice, like it doesn’t bother me that she thinks I’m a murderer. Maybe I did kill in each of my 649 lives, but those don’t count. No one can remember their past lives.
But Mam doesn’t believe that, and neither does anyone else. Devya Mallick, the murderer. I’m a scary story, like the Forsaken whose shadows haunt the jungle.
I could be a Forsaken soon. One last warning—murder again and my city will tie me to the Forsaking tree, so that my soul can be ripped from my body. No more incarnations. No more chances.
Papa clears his throat. “Did you learn anything in class today, Devya?”
I shake my head, pushing around my mushy vegetables and relishing in the sound my fingers make on the wooden plate. It’s like music, low and pleasant as the wind.
It’s so much better than what is coming.
I glance at Mam, a knot coiling in my stomach. I don’t want to do this. Just one night off. But killers don’t get nights off.
It must be done, Mam always says. I try to silence my thoughts, to forget the smell of all that blood—but it’s impossible.