This is a story of Tess, a 16 year old girl who finds herself an unwitting participant in a series of disturbing events. Tess’s life changes drastically when her abusive step-uncle dies under mysterious circumstances. She is forced to pick up and move across the country with her aunt and cousins to her grandmother’s house in Woodley, Connecticut. Upon arriving, she experiences a strange feeling of deja vu, as if she’s lived there before, but that would be impossible, wouldn’t it?
As Tess settles into her new life, she manages to make a few friends, while also discovering that she has many enemies. She becomes involved in a series of frightening events that leads her to seek the truth about herself and the town of Woodley. Tess decides to undergo regression hypnosis which gives her a glimpse into her past lives. She is shocked when she discovers her true identity and how her past impacts her life today.
Targeted Age Group:: 12 and up
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I’ve been fascinated by paranormal literature since I was a child. In fact, I still have my first book of that kind of literature- a favorite fairy tale book from my childhood. That was my original inspiration! I believe that young people are more open-minded to books that interweave magic and the supernatural within a modern day story line. I also like to add as much historical perspective as I can. The plot of A Girl Between intertwines the everyday struggles of today’s teenagers with past historical times of witch persecutions.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I was a high school teacher for many years. As I added young characters to the book, I often thought about some of my past students. I would take particular traits that could be described as endearing or annoying and ‘mix and match’ to find the perfect person. When I develop adult characters I often base them on people I have known in my past.
This is a story of Tess;
about her past and the present.
The historical context of past events is true.
As for the present day,
let’s have Tess tell the story ….
Cousins Annie and Eve kept an eye out while I crept out the back door. I used a small flashlight to see my way to the garage behind the house. Frank, my uncle, always locked the garage door, so I fished the key out of my pocket and fumbled with the lock until I got open.
Frank was always concerned that someone would steal one of his precious antique cars, so the door was always locked. He owned five vintage cars, all in various stages of restoration. I had to peer through the dark to find the right one, which wasn’t that tough to do. It was Frank’s baby; the shiny red ’79 Chevy Corvette. It’s the one he drives to work every single day. I have a theory about why Frank drives that shiny show-off car everywhere. It’s because it makes him feel like he’s big and important.
I felt around under the car for the wrench. Eve had placed it there earlier for me to find. It was really tough trying to fit the wrench over the tire lug using only a thin pencil of light, but it finally slipped on. I stood over the tire and readjusted my stance to get optimum leverage. It’s never easy when you’re short like me. Leaning in, I realized something was different. There was a new background noise. What was that? I started to feel panicky so I took a few deep breaths. I told myself to quiet down and listen.
As I waited, I could feel doubts creeping in. What if Frank woke up? What if something went wrong? Did he really deserve this? Tonight certainly does present a good opportunity, and it may not come around again. I had to keep that in mind. I also remember how badly Frank treated us. For example, today he installed the two front tires on his precious car with poor Annie’s help. Whenever he needed our assistance he’d call one of us down from our bedroom hideout. He’d make us stand around for hours, waiting for his impetuous commands. Then he’d scream at us for not holding the wrench properly, or sanding some car part too little or too much, or whatever. He loved yelling. It didn’t matter how hard you tried or what you did. It was his daily reminder that this was his domain. In his eyes, you were no better than a bug on his Chevy windshield. If he was really feeling on top of things, he might reward you with a back hand across the face or a kick in the pants before you escaped from his custody.
Frank has always been insane with us, but something happened recently that pushed us into this act of desperation. He came home from work the other day and was actually whistling! My cousins were hoping he was in a good mood because work went well. But I knew better. Something was up and it wasn’t going to be good. I just had a feeling. Unfortunately, I was on the mark. He lowered the boom right after dinner.
“I have some good news for you girls and for ‘Lardass’” (what he calls my Aunt Amy). “Someone at work is selling a beautiful piece of land way up in the mountains. I’ve been looking for a way to move out of this congested area and away from all of the bad influences on you girls. I can’t stand all the people living around here. I figured that if we move up there I don’t have to worry about the crazy stuff going on at your school. Your mother can home-school you. It’ll give her something to do other than sitting around on her lardass all day like she does. Then I don’t have to worry about you going out with boys and getting into trouble.” The whole time Frank was telling us this news, he had a smug grin on his face.
My aunt said, “But Frank, we don’t want to move away from here. The girls like going to the high school and all of their friends live around here.”
Frank’s face started turning bright red. He’s not used to being disputed. “Shut up, Lardass. I already gave the guy a deposit to hold the property. I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to get this place. I figured we can move by September. It’ll be more of a drive for me, but I don’t mind sacrificing for my girls.” He said ‘my girls’ like he was saying the phrase ‘dog crap’.
Our fear about leaving was what really got the ball rolling. Even though living with Frank was a nightmare, we had great friends and neighbors. They all knew about Frank and compensated in little ways to help us cope. If we had to leave our friends, what would we do? We’d be stuck under Frank’s reign of terror 24/7. As it was, we were becoming scared little rabbits. When our life does start someday, will we be able to actually live it? Aunt Amy was the one who’d pay the most, though. Any spark of life in her had been worn down to a tiny nub. Her primary role as the buffer zone had turned her into a yelping, skittering dog.
Despite that, my aunt had taken on a big risk recently by helping Annie secretly leave the house in the evening. Frank hardly ever let us go out at night because boys may be around, and BOYS WERE OFF LIMITS. Frank’s mantra was that boys were up to no good and they had only one thing on their mind. Since Annie was almost 18 years old, Aunt Amy wanted her to do some normal teenage things. So, when Uncle Frank started snoring in front of the TV, Annie would slip out and meet her friends in front of the house next door. They’d go to the movies or a high school dance or something. When Annie came home, she’d slip in through an unlocked basement window and sneak upstairs. We were all glad for Annie, but while she was gone, we lived in a state of perpetual terror. What if Frank woke up? What if Frank found out?
So there I was, still standing with the lug wrench in my hand. I finally heard the noise again, like mice scrabbling in the walls. That’s all it was. It was nothing to worry about. I can do this! I put my weight down on the lug wrench. The lug nut on the tire wouldn’t budge. Then the wrench slipped and CLANGED onto the cement floor. That was loud! I anxiously peeked through the garage window at the house. Did Frank hear that? I waited. No light came on.
My cousins must be going crazy by now, wondering what’s going on. Our plan was for me to loosen the lug nuts on one of the front tires he changed on his car today. On his way to work tomorrow, he’d be driving down a couple of long steep hills. There’d be a good chance the tire would pop right off and he’d lose control of his car. There was nowhere to go but off the road and down the cliff. He tends to be a speedy driver because he’s an impatient man, and of course he doesn’t wear his seat belt. After all, he’s ‘The Man’ driving a shiny red corvette. There’re no airbags because the car is too old. It’s not like a tire shop would be blamed. Frank changed his own tires.
I volunteered to carry out this part of the plan because of my age. After all, I’m 15 years old, turning 16 next month. We figured that if something happened and it was discovered that Frank’s tire was deliberately loosened, I could step forward and take the heat. There’s only so much that can be done because of my age (at least according to the TV shows). I’d probably go to juvie for a few years. It would be worth it.
I bend over for the third time and try again. The nut is really on tight. I should use a longer wrench. I just need more leverage. I go to Frank’s bench to find one. I’m sweating like a pig now. My heart is thumping, thumping. I’m breathing in and out, in and out. The wrench slips again, out of my hands. It CLANGS onto the cement. I bend over to pick it up, and stop. What am I thinking? The reason I’m messing around in here so much is because I’m putting this deed off. Deep down, I know I just can’t do it. I don’t have it in me. I wish I could. Frank is an evil man and he deserves to die. Why can’t I bring peace to this family? I can’t kill another human being, even if it’s a vacant evil soul like Frank. I wish I could. I slip out of the garage and go back inside. I am a coward.
When I got back into the house and saw my cousins, I just shook my head in defeat. I went upstairs and crawled into bed. Adrenalin was alive and well in my body so there was no way I could fall asleep. As I lay there, I started thinking about my early life with this family. I didn’t always live with Aunt Amy, Frank and Cousins Annie and Eve. I lived with my own mom and dad. At one point my dad up and left us, so I was just with my mom. She was sweet and kind to me, but my strongest memories of her were her eyes. Even when my mom would laugh and tickle me, I could see sadness inside her eyes. She died of cancer when I was six, but I remember the sadness from way before then.
After my mother’s death, my Aunt Amy came and got me. She was my mother’s younger sister. She was the greatest; very kind and sweet like my mom. My cousins Annie and Eve were a little older than me, but we got along well. They mothered me, too, which I just soaked up.
There was something that I remembered about my aunt at that time that made me nervous. I knew even then that she had a little needy hole inside of her. Frank wasn’t with Aunt Amy back then, but he was starting to hang around at the edges. He could see the hole, too. The first time I saw him, he came by with some tools to fix Aunt Amy’s hanging mailbox. I remember the second time I saw him. He took all of us out for ice cream. My cousins and I were sitting in the back seat of a giant car. I think it was called a Desoto. It was a beautiful thing, green and sparkling in the sun. The back seat was like a big round living room couch. I was licking my cone when some of it spilled on the seat. Frank laughed it off like it was OK, but I knew better. Deep in his eyes was a big fury. He tried to hide it, but I saw. He acted all nice until he married Aunt Amy. I wanted to tell her that he was bad inside, but I knew she wouldn’t listen. I was only eight years old.
Our life with Aunt Amy changed quickly after she married Frank, like I figured it would. Frank was a physically intimidating man. Even though he was small, he did manual labor all day so he was quick and muscular. I always thought he looked kind of like Popeye; the cartoon character who ate spinach and grew big arm muscles.
The scariest thing about Frank was his propensity to blow up for any reason at all. The first time his madness leaked out was when he banged his head on the door of an upper cabinet that was left open. We were all sitting at the kitchen table, so we had a real close up view. Frank’s face turned red and I could see pulsing veins in his forehead. His eyes were bulging and intense when he turned to us and screamed something about the cabinet door being left open. He proceeded to put on a great show with his gesturing and emoting. He got just what he wanted because we were all scared to death. The minute he stopped yelling we all ran out of the room, except for my poor aunt. She always stayed to try to fix everything. That first temper tantrum of Frank’s happened when he was married to my aunt for only just a few weeks. Needless to say, things got much worst.
His tantrums increased in duration and frequency after that. After a while, one blowup ran into another. Some of his frenzies were more memorable than others. One of Aunt Amy’s jobs was to make up his lunch and then leave it by the back door. Aunt Amy was then supposed to remind Frank to pick up his lunch on the way out. One day, when she didn’t remind him, he went crazy on her and started calling her “Lardass”. From that day on, he only called her Amy when other people were around. At home, she was just Lardass.
I was finally drifting off to sleep when one last memory comes at me out of nowhere. I hadn’t thought about this in years. It happened before Aunt Amy and Frank were married, so I was around seven years old. As I recall, he was still putting on the virtuosity show with Aunt Amy and the girls, but for some reason he dropped all pretense with me. In fact, I think he was playing a game with me. He was daring me to go to Aunt Amy. He wanted to stir things up. He was having us clean out the basement window wells of leaves and stuff. I was nearby when Frank called me over to look in one of the wells. I went over and saw a mother rabbit and her bunnies curled up together. They were so beautiful, all silky and smooth. I loved animals, especially the babies. I bent over to stroke a baby rabbit with my index finger when suddenly I felt a hard WACK on my chest. I flew back a few feet and my head snapped back. My chest felt stung by the hard slap. Frank then screamed at me that rabbits were dirty. They were full of germs. He was going to throw the baby rabbits in a bucket of water and drown them because who knows what disease they might carry. The entire time he was telling me, I knew he was enjoying himself. I could see it in his smiling eyes.
Marjorie Weismantel is a high school teacher and mother of three who has enjoyed and valued her many experiences with young adults. While an avid reader of all kinds of books, her favorite genre has been the supernatural, and so, writing a book for young people with a paranormal theme comes naturally to her.
She particularly likes to write about things we might contemplate at odd hours of the night but believe will never actually happen; where the outcomes are slightly askew and don’t fit neatly into a box. Her objective is to create an alternate world that readers desire to visit and stay for a while.
Marjorie enjoys traveling around the U.S. in a motor home, viewing the beauty of nature and our national parks, and visiting the many wonderful historical sites. When not traveling, she resides in Connecticut with her husband, dog, and two cats.
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