Entry Nickname: Paper Girl in The Land of Yesterday
Title: The Last Paper Dahl
Word count: 63K
Genre: MG Fantasy
On Monday, eleven-year-old Cecelia Dahl had a little brother who was alive, a mother and father who didn't blame her for his death, and a pleasant house in Hungrig, Norway. She was made of skin and bones and happiness, not crackling paper and sorrow. She had a soul that lived inside her body, not a miserable blue one that ran out through a door in her chest. But then Tuesday swept in with its terrible claws and ripped her life to shreds.
Cecelia’s mother has left for The Land of Yesterday to find her ghost brother. Her house, now a dark and crooked thing called Widdendream, absorbs her father into its walls as punishment for making her mother leave. Just before it eats her as well, two mischievous gnomes whisk her away in their hot-air balloon. The gnomes, soul-catchers by trade, claim they know the way to Yesterday, and also how to capture her runaway soul. They say its absence is why she’s turning into a paper girl, but that finding it won’t be easy. Now Cecelia must survive the harrowing voyage in order to find Yesterday and bring her mother and ghost-brother home. If she doesn’t, Widdendream will never give her father back, and Cecelia’s transformation to a full paper Dahl will be irreversibly complete.
First 250 words:
Cecelia hated Tuesday, and Tuesday hated her back. On Monday of last week, Cecelia Dahl understood the world. She resided in Hungrig Norway, in a crooked house called Widdendream. Daisies that bloomed in both grass and snow circled the shimmering lake outside her window. Sharp mountains loomed over her town. Dogs barked. Cats meowed. Cecelia’s midnight blue hair grew long and fast and cantankerous. Her skin was dark and bronze and oddly freckled, just like her mother’s. Widdendream loved her family, as all good houses should, and her family loved her the same way. Indeed, on Monday of last week, these were all true-to-life facts.
Then on Tuesday, one week ago today, Cecelia did the bad thing. Her little brother died and she took the blame, and now Tuesday had come again. And Cecelia dreaded what it would bring.
“Cecilia?” Miss Podsnappery pushed up her horn-rimmed glasses. “What ever do you call that instrument in your hand?”
Every eye in class turned on Cecelia. Expressionless gazes traced her charcoal sweater and the black-and-gray striped dress beneath it, judging her frayed tights and scuffed boots too, no doubt. Her teacher, bewildered as always, cast looming shadows. Cecelia forced a smile. She must keep her answer as succinct as possible, forgoing any miscommunications. Teachers were simple creatures, after all. And easily confused.
“Miss Podsnappery,” Cecilia answered, speaking with extra care as not to confuse the poor woman, for she did try exceedingly hard to please. “This,” she continued, holding up the device in question, “is what is called a Pen.”