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The books and blog of Lindsey Renee Backen.

Across the Distance

ATD - comp 04a

Dragged from New York to Texas by her newly-divorced father, Scarlet Beldon braces for a lonely summer in a Victorian house that allows only the faintest of WiFi signals. A stack of letters dated 1910 introduces her to the house’s former occupant, Clara Castle, who lives with a strict and paranoid father.When a music box connects the girls’ worlds, their friendship turns into a mad scramble to unlock the secrets of Clara’s future and alter history itself.

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Companion Stories

Original Opening

Scarlet Beldon
1999
NYC, New York

She does not look like an actress. I stand with my arms slung carelessly 8485f9e16935f1be24cc09e035a64a4aaround my ribs in half a hug. Watching her. The girl who Dad informs me will be my new sister. She’s riding toward us down the escalator, carrying a book and nothing else. Her hair is dark brown, reaching to her shoulders. She’s pretty. Not beautiful, but pretty. Much prettier than the drama freak I had first imagined when Mrs. O’Brian informed me that she was bringing her daughter along to finish conquering my mother’s domain.
I shouldn’t be standing here, watching Dad’s arm wrap tighter and tighter around some other lady’s waist. They’re not even married. She turns with that sickening smile.
“Scarlet, this is Kate. Kate, Scarlet.”
“Hello,” Kate takes the cue and holds out her hand.
My gosh. She has her mother’s smile.
“It’s nice to meet you,” I say, but I don’t mean it. We all stand with stiff, plastic smiles until the adults turn to walk to the baggage claim, giggling and whispering. Kate and I follow like a couple of old buzzards chaperoning a pair of lovers. Only different buzzards. Kate’s eyes look resigned like she might be the next dead animal. I’m out for the kill. Waiting for the woman to rot.
“Scarlet always wanted a sister.”
Dad’s talking to Kate, but his eyes are glued on her mother.
“Not you,” I whisper.

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Andrew’s Arrival

September 9, 1912

f2e4679ef82c7cfdfd50ab1f73fc3ddcI keep thinking of my family. I haven’t played on the train at all. It seems wrong that I should be given everything while they struggle.

As if mocking his words, Andrew’s new coat slid to the floor from the table where he had set it aside. They had passed the mountains and the land grew flatter every day they traveled. He watched the scenery change from the splashes of fall colors of the north, to the densely wooded trees in the mountains. The seasons seem to change backwards. The farther south they traveled, the more stubborn the land looked; grass retained a faded shade of green, leaves still clung to sprawling twigs. As they near the coast the trees shrank, and the grass grew taller and coarser. Mr. Robert lived on an island that he explained was nothing more than a large sandbar. It seemed an odd place to build the fourth wealthiest city in the US, but Andrew kept quiet about it.

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