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  • Writer's pictureRachel W

Slices of Dead Trees

When I was six, I remember holding chapter books like my older friends did and skimming the words on the pages, pretending to be as engrossed by the stories before me as the older girls were. I hadn't quite grasped the comfort of long paragraphs yet.

But by second grade, I was all in. It clicked completely. I no longer needed to fake it. I'd spend hours hiding inside the books that fascinated me. The Babysitter's Club and The Sweet Valley Twins were my favorite series. Stories about girls older than me, but not too much older. Reading about their middle school trials and tribulations, their friendships, their crushes, their classes at school, their parents, their siblings. I loved the way their appearances and personalities were sketched out to me and I ached to be them.

And my ghost story chapter books. Reading them chilled me, silenced me to my bones. Forced me to go within the depths of the psyche of my tiny child brain to imagine things I could not see with my own eyes. Were ghosts real? Would I see one? What would they do to me? What would I do if I saw one? The consensus was usually that I'd wet my pants. Part of me wanted to be as unearthly as they were. I wanted to frighten people and I wanted them to be in awe of me. I'd been told by a friend that I looked like a ghost, with my dark hair and pale skin and perpetually frightened stare. I think I liked it.

One night one of my ghost story books spooked me so badly that I refused to take a bath alone. My mother promptly removed the book from my possession. I had to prove to her that I was brave enough to get it back.

As you can imagine, when the Addams Family movie came out in 1991, I became obsessed with Christina Ricci's Wednesday. I was torn between the morose, dark beauty of the Addams daughter and the sun streaked blonde dimples of Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. I wanted both.

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