hailsmith academy-chapters one and two

Chapter One

You know that one moment when you’re really, really happy? And then something absolutely terrible happens?


Usually for me, it’s something small. I won my first swimming match, and then my car broke down on the way home. Or, I went to Brazil to see my family and then came home to find that all my plants had died.

This time was different. 

The first time I ever kissed a boy was two days ago. Well, my first time kissing a cute one, at least. I was flying. I felt amazing. 

And then I got home and discovered I was moving to Australia. You’d think I was joking. But no. My eccentric mother had decided it was time for a change of scenery. (She actually just wanted to escape her evil coworkers who called her, and I quote, ‘a wet rag’. I don’t think she realized it would’ve been much better to just switch jobs. Clearly, insurance sucks.)

But that’s my mom. Spontaneous in the worst possible ways. 

Which was why I was currently sitting on my bedroom floor, whining to my best friend Emily. Or, more accurately, crying. 

“Daiane, you’re going to be fine. Your mom is always like this. Give it a couple weeks, and you’ll be on a flight back to California.” I swipe away the remaining tears and sigh heavily. 

“Promise?” Emily hesitates. 

“Look, I’m not promising anything. I’m just saying, there’s a pretty good chance you’re not staying there forever.” I roll my eyes.

“That’s not really reassuring, Em.”

“Plus, you’ll probably meet some super cute Australian dudes. I’m kinda jelly.” Emily says, tucking a strand of jet-black hair behind her ear. I giggle.

“Love you, Em.” 

“Love you too, Dee.”

After a tearful goodbye, two hours of packing my life into four suitcases, and a quick lunch at Wendy’s, I’m sitting on a plane to Cairns, ignoring my mother’s desperate attempts to make small talk.

Sorry, Mom. You just tore your daughter away from her entire life. You’ll be lucky if I talk to you as an eighty-year old grandma. 

🂽 🂽 🂽 🂽

Thirty-six hours later, I’m stepping off the airplane, rubbing my sleepy eyes. I’m so jet-lagged, my jet-lag has jet-lag.

“Well, we’re here!” Mom says enthusiastically. I don’t match her excited temperament. Besides the elephant in the room–ahem, moving across the country–I had to sit next to a very chatty old man who smelled of broccoli. For thirty-six hours. 


When we pull up to our new house, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that it’s actually really cute. And there’s a pool in the backyard! 

However, as I found out the hard way–there’s also leeches.

“Moooommmmm!!!!!!” I screech from the front porch, pulling them off my decidedly hairy legs–oops–with gusto.

Mom pops her head out of the house, rolling her eyes. “Daiane, deal with it. They’re just worms.” She shuts the door. 

Yeah, bloodsucking worms. 


Chapter Two

Apparently we’re going to church. Yeah, church. Which, by the way, we haven’t gone to since Easter. I’m deeply concerned. 

Of course, just my luck, it’s a church full of old people. Because according to Mom, we live in an area mostly populated by seniors. 

Isn’t that wonderful?

I make my way into the pews, and then, by some miracle, spot a tall guy about my age sitting by himself in the back. Bye, Mom. 

“Hi.” I say, plopping myself beside him. He turns, surprised, and looks me over. Like really obviously. Not that I care. 

I check him out myself. He’s not bad at all, actually. Curly brown hair, green eyes, and a lanky build, and…hm…great hands–

“You’re really pretty.” he blurts. I turn bright red.

“Oh. Um. Thanks! I’m Daiane.” I stick out my hand. He shakes it.

“I’m Gray. Are you visiting?” he asks. “Cairns, not the church.” 

“In…a way.” I explain my situation. He nods like he totally understands.

“Well, I’m really glad you’re here.” I blush even harder, although he’s totally oblivious to this. “There hasn’t been someone my age here since Sophia.” he explains.

I wonder who Sophia is. Or…was.



14 years old

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