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[personal profile] thewolfeinwillowell posting in [community profile] dearcousin
Dear Emma,

I wanted Ms. Fajans for English! Darn. I'll have to make do with Ygritte the Banshee, I suppose. She lent me a book to read last week, but the cover was torn off and the pages were all waterlogged. I did not want to be rude so I thanked her and took it, and now it is hanging on a clothesline over my bathroom sink, ink still dripping from its pages. It has been five nights, and still the book is wet. It makes me very unnerved, but if ever it dries enough for me to read, I shall be curious as to what it has to say.

The funeral sounds like it was quite the party! Everybody I knew and liked in the same place, all to commemorate me. Was Susan Le there? She acts like we're friends, but I hate Susan Le. Never mind. I'm over it. Never have to see her again.

I suppose I should continue the story where you left off, when I opened my eyes on the other side.

I awoke in my open grave, staring up at a rectangle of grey morning sky. Inside that rectangle hovered an oddly two-dimensional Death's-Head Skull crowned with a nest of black wires. A hand reached down to me, and I realized it, the skull, and the wild black hair belonged to a boy near our own age, with skin the dusty hue of a sunless day and bones painted onto his face, limbs, and extremities. I took his hand in mine, and as he pulled me out of the dirt, I thought that I ought to be afraid and shake my limbs and scream as if I were being born, but I felt safe with his hand guiding mine. This was Azra the Death Boy, whom I mentioned in my last letter. Although I didn't know it until weeks later, he pulls all the buried from their graves.

He led me across the water in which the empty graves float like boats. The water was still and murky and stretched out behind us all the way to the horizon. Ahead of us was the island where I now reside. He took me to the shore and pointed ahead to a copse of trees in which stood carriage drawn by a single horse. Then he turned and walked back across the water. I called out after him and tried to follow, but the water no longer supported my weight, and I scrambled to get back to shore before whatever horrors dwell beneath its surface could drag me under.

The horse blew out a breath through its lips when I approached. The carriage was made of black iron and ribbed, and the door was already open. I climbed inside and closed the door. It was very comfortable; the seats were thick and cushy, and the ride was smooth. The carriage nevertheless clanged and clattered as it moved.

We passed fields of grain and a meadow of white flowers before I nodded off. When I woke up, we were in a cinder block town, with the Willowell Apartments standing before us. A woman greeted me and helped me out of the carriage. Her head was a bell that clapped when she moved and through which her voice was bizarrely amplified. She is the resident manager, Miss Bell. I don't see her much. She showed me to my room, handed me my keys, and warned me not to make too much noise because it upsets the neighbors. I nodded and tried to look her in the eye and smile, as Mom always taught me to do, but it was hard as how she did not have eyes—something I would learn is not all that uncommon here—so I stared vaguely at the center of her bell head and thanked her for being so welcoming.

I've told you already about moving in. There's no Internet service on the island, so I spend most of my time exploring or drawing.

Love,
Ilyana

May 2015

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