To Summon a Spirit
Chapter 1

I can just see my face in the bedroom mirror. Beyond the jampot of daffodils and the GET WELL cards. I make out my dark, worried eyes, and hair that always needs brushing: brushing and braiding and damping down.

I think I look awful, all moony eyed and pasty. Glandular fever, Dr Roberts says, takes a lot out of you. I wish that included the spot on my chin.

I grin feebly at my joke. Then I wave at my reflection. Hello, me! Hi, Jessica Jenkins.

I finger the spot, then freeze. That is me. Isn't it?

Don't be stupid, Jess Jenkins. Who do you think it is?

But then whose are those other memories, flitting like moths inside my head? I ignore them. Then they pester me. But whenever I try to catch one, it just fades into shadows.

Ma's pulled down the blinds so I can get some sleep, but the cool spring light still comes sneaking round the edges.

I close my eyes and concentrate. Something tells me this time I've got to remember.

I've got to remember.

Only then can I forget.

I snatch at one of those memories and this time I hold it, and a picture starts growing inside my head. It grows and it grows until it's all around me, like a 3-D film. I can taste it, touch it, smell it.

And then I'm there.

Autumn...

 

Autumn. Nearly winter. Already the light is fading and the days are getting short.

Fog catches at my throat like the ciggie I once tried, and wilted leaves litter the pavements like soggy cornflakes.

It's late October - the month seems to matter. Why? Suddenly I feel troubled, insecure. Late October...

I'm walking home from school with some people from my class. The newsagent's displayed his usual welcome sign: ONLY ONE SCHOOL PUPIL AT A TIME. Today it's my turn. I come out with a bag of fruit drops, a couple of Crunchie bars, two packs of bubble gum and some cheese and onion crisps.

Then they all start complaining, "Oh, Jess! You've got it wrong, you've got it all wrong! I asked for bacon crisps, didn't I? And it was a Mars bar, you twit!"

But my friend Paula slips her arm through mine. "Stop fussing, you lot," she says. "This girl's having a hard time."

Paula knows. I've told her. Not everything,but enough. Paula's OK. And you've got to trust someone, have some kind of friend.

 

Suddenly that picture's all gone.

But now I'm remembering how the bad times started.