Read Always October Online

Authors: Bruce Coville

Always October

DEDICATION

FOR MY PALS AT TOG
,
with thanks for the support,
the suggestions, and the laughter!

SPECIAL THANKS
to two wonderful weavers: Kristin Rowley, in whose house I first saw and fell in love with a Loom Room; and Sarah Saulson, my weaver neighbor, who graciously let me visit her studio exactly the moment I most needed to see a weaver at work
.

CONTENTS

DEDICATION

1.    How It All Started (Lily)

2.    The Thump on the Porch (Jacob)

3.    Out of the Blue (Lily)

4.    Little Dumpling (Jacob)

5.    Outlaws (Lily)

6.    Transformation (Jacob)

7.    Into the Closet (Lily)

8.    A Voice in the Dark (Jacob)

9.    I Get to Meet LD (Lily)

10.  Spelunker (Jacob)

11.  The Puzzle in the Picture (Lily)

12.  The True Key (Jacob)

13.  Mist in the Mausoleum (Lily)

14.  What Came through the Closet (Jacob)

15.  The High Poet (Lily)

16.  The Dream Eater (Jacob)

17.  The Unravelers (Lily)

18.  Sploot Fah (Jacob)

19.  The World Below (Lily)

20.  The Council of Poets (Jacob)

21.  The Silver Slicer (Lily)

22.  The Battle for the Baby (Jacob)

23.  Tunnels (Lily)

24.  A New Guide (Jacob)

25.  Blankets, Yes; Diapers, No (Lily)

26.  The History of a Mystery (Jacob)

27.  Tia LaMontagne (Lily)

28.  The Black Bridge of Doom (Jacob)

29.  Toozle (Lily)

30.  Tears (Jacob)

31.  The Queen of Sorrows (Lily)

32.  Two Dozen Dumplings (Jacob)

33.  Track to the Top (Lily)

34.  The Master Librarian (Jacob)

35.  Beneath the Library (Lily)

36.  Chimes at Midnight (Jacob)

37.  Bad Vibrations (Lily)

38.  Tikkun (Jacob)

39  Return (Lily)

EPILOGUE 1 (Jacob)

EPILOGUE 2 (Lily)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CREDITS

COPYRIGHT

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER

1
(Lily)

HOW IT ALL STARTED

W
e've only got two weeks before Jake has to turn into a monster for the first time. Gramps, Mrs. McSweeney, and I are pretty sure we've got everything set to deal with it. Even so, I've decided Jake and I should write down our adventures now,
before
the big night. After all, if things don't go the way we hope, his mother will need to know what happened.

The police, too, probably.

I'm going to start because I know Jake will never begin on his own. Once I get the story rolling, I think I can push him to fill in his parts.

So, first things first. I'm Lily Carker, mostly known as “Weird Lily.” I got my nickname when I made the mistake of singing my new song, “How the Wolf Ate Gramma,” for show and tell. It was something I'd just written for my collection
Ballads of Death and Destruction
, and I was very proud of it. I suppose the fact that I was in second grade at the time didn't help.

I haven't made that mistake again.

Even so, the name stuck.

I live with my grandfather, Gnarly, who runs the cemetery.

“Jake” is Jacob Doolittle. Jake lives with his mom on the other side of the cemetery from me and Gramps. Their house is as big and fancy as ours is small and simple. It even has a tower. Awesome!

On the other hand, both houses are pretty run-down.

Jake is the cutest boy in class. Jake himself is kind of clueless about this, but he's a boy, so that's to be expected. (It's probably going to make him mad that I wrote that, but it's the truth, so there.)

I made a big mistake because of his cuteness when I moved to Needham's Elbow, back in second grade: I told him I was going to marry him someday.

Actually I told the whole class, since I said it during show and tell.

You'd think I'd learn.

Jacob wouldn't talk to me for a long time after that.

I can't say that I blame him.

Here's how we finally got to be friends: Toward the end of fourth grade I was picking flowers in the old section of the cemetery when I heard someone crying. It's not unusual for people to cry in the cemetery, of course, but usually it's over someone who has just died. Since this crying came from the far side of a tombstone dated 1863, I wondered if it might be a ghost. So I peeked around the tombstone.

It wasn't a ghost—it was Jacob. (He wasn't “Jake” to me yet.)

It was easy to guess why he was crying. Everyone in our class knew that something had happened a few weeks earlier so that Jacob's dad wasn't around anymore. What that something was no one seemed to know, though there were a lot of guesses, some of them pretty nasty.

The thing was, I understood better than most how Jacob felt, since something similar had happened to me just before I finished first grade. At least I knew my parents were still alive, even if they didn't want me. In Jacob's case no one seemed to know whether his dad was dead or had simply taken off.

Until his dad disappeared, Jacob had been pretty normal, and pretty popular. After it happened, he started acting strange. (And trust me, I know about strange!) It took me a while to notice, because it was little things … touching his desk three times before he sat down, or making sure his books were properly organized before we went to the cafeteria. If Mrs. Gorton made him get in line before he was ready, I could tell he felt nervous and unhappy. Sometimes I would catch him tapping his fingers against his thumb … little finger, ring finger, middle finger, pointer finger, over and over. After a while I worked out that the faster his fingers were moving, the more upset he was.

Anyway, that day in the cemetery I figured I knew why Jacob was upset. I also figured he didn't want to talk about it. But I also knew a third thing … sometimes it feels good just to have someone with you when you feel that way.

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