How to Tend a Grave, published by Great Plains Teen Fiction, is available now. I’m so excited to share an excerpt with you here. Hope you enjoy it!
“Liam slumps down onto the sorry pile of dirt that covers his mom’s grave. It’s been days since he cried and he hoped he was done. But no such luck. And once he starts he can’t seem to stop.
Why, why, why? Why’d she go out that night? She said she’d always be there for him. She promised!
He blubbers like a baby and lets the tears and snot stream down his face.
Until he realizes he’s no longer alone. There’s someone standing nearby. Someone from Y4C, for sure. Listening to him rave. Watching him do the ugly cry.
He rubs his eyes with his fists and wipes his nose with the back of his hand. Gross, but right now, who really cares? He sniffles and gulps some deep breaths and braces himself for what’s coming.
Strangely, he’s still not afraid. Bring it on, he wants to say. Beat me up like you did that little old lady. Kick my head in. C’mon, kill me already and get it over with. Because I don’t care. My life is shit.
Nothing happens though. No fists in his face or boots to his head. So finally he glances up.
But it’s not Youth or Crime or anybody looking like a 4 standing there. It’s this girl. She’s tall and slender and pale. Her hair is all wavy and shiny over her shoulders like a waterfall. Her feet are bare. She has silver rings on her toes and her toenails are painted a dark, winy red, like blood.
She swishes the skirt of her long, lime-green dress. It’s some kind of a prom gown he guesses. “Hey,” she says, sitting down beside him on his mom’s grave. “Do you know how many dead babies are buried in this place?”
Dead babies? What’s with this chick? He lifts the edge of his T-shirt to clean his face. There’s tears and snot smeared all over him. He must look revolting. “No idea,” he says. “Never even thought about it. I’m Liam, by the way.”
“I know,” she says. “I’ve seen you at school.”
“You have?” So why hasn’t he seen her? Because he would have noticed. For sure.
“Harmony. Nice name.” Her hair is the most beautiful he’s ever seen. It’s the color of honey. He’d like to touch it. Stroke it. Stuff it in his mouth. But he restrains himself. She’d probably freak. And he’d probably lose all control and ravish her. Which would definitely be a very bad move.
“The babies have to be under two years old for me to visit them,” she says. “I bring them flowers. And other stuff too, like candles and charms.”
Is she for real? Or is he hallucinating? Did she really just say what he thinks she did? “You visit the graves of dead babies?”
She nods, like that’s the most natural thing in the world. “Some of them are over a hundred years old now. Well, they would be, if they’d lived.”
He leans back against the gravestone. This Harmony chick seems a bit crazy. The last thing he needs is to get involved with a fruitcake, even if she is incredibly hot.”
“Contemporary, realistic YA fiction at its best. The very different stories of two grieving fifteen-year-olds who meet in a cemetery interweave brilliantly in this fast-paced, engaging and unforgettable novel about life and love.”