Genre: YA Mystery
Word Count: 50,000
Sixteen-year-old Bea Pearl is not crazy. She has a brother. But no one—not even her parents—seems to remember him.
I haven’t said my brother’s name out loud since Momma hit me with a catfish. I ran out of the kitchen, wide-eyed, holding the dead fish and my bloody arm. When I found Daddy, he rubbed the fish’s slime on the puncture wound to help with the pain. The throbbing dimmed to a dull ache though my throat remained too tight, holding back my tears. He warned me never to mention my brother around Momma again.
As I say his name into the phone receiver, it tastes like that sweet moment caramel goes from hard to chewy. “Jim.” It’s a short name but I try to savor the way my teeth click and lips touch.
“Yeah, Jim Montgomery. Is he there?”
I don’t recognize the voice, maybe because I’m more focused on the echo of my brother’s name in my head. “No.” It comes out as a whisper so I clear my throat. “No, Jim’s not here.” I just want another excuse to say my missing brother’s name out loud. As if saying it aloud will bring him home.
“Can I leave a message? When will he be back?”
I cradle the phone on my shoulder and rub the little puckered scar on my forearm. Even though the surrounding skin is tan, it remains stark white. “I don’t know.” I hang up as the wooden creak of a floorboard behind me makes me jump.
Daddy winks at me as he enters the kitchen with an empty coffee cup in hand.
Mr. Boddy is found sitting at his desk in the Study with a wound that entered through his eye and exited the back of his head. A proposal to invest in a broken down estate in Africa is splattered with blood on the desk.