Read an extract from Crying In The Dark:
The room's cold atmosphere weighed on her soul. She braided up her hair, and grimly climbed into the fourposter. She expected it would be incredibly hard to get to sleep. But she was really very tired...
She'd been sleeping for a long time, so long that she thought it must be morning, when she woke up knowing that somebody had come into the room. It had to be Nathalie. Nathalie had crept down here and was going through Elinor's belongings. She must be either looking for something, or else planting something to get Elinor into trouble. Nathalie had once kicked up a tremendous fuss about a new black sweater, which had vanished (she said) from her clothes cupboard. The whole house had been turned upside down and the sweater had been found hidden away in Elinor's chest of drawers. Elinor was certain that Nathalie had put it there herself. But of course she couldn't prove that and she'd had to take the blame.
She opened her eyes without moving, hoping to catch her cousin in the act (not that it would do her any good. Auntie Sylvia believed any tale the cousins told against Elinor, no matter whether it made sense). It wasn't morning. It was still night, and although she'd left the curtains at her window open the room was dark the way no night ever is in a town. But there was a kind of glow around a figure seated in front of the rosewood desk, its back to Elinor. It was the figure of a woman with a big, nodding pile of whiteish hair, and a sort of train fastened to her shoulders. She seemed to be searching the desk, opening all the little drawers jerkily and fast. Something, anyway, caused the pleated robe that hung from her shoulders to move, so that the patterned silk glittered in the light that came from nowhere.
Elinor lay very still and deadly cold.
It was a dream, of course: one of those dreams where you're scared to
death by something that seems outwardly quite harmless. She remembered
once waking in terror, waking the whole house with her screams; but
all she could tell them, when her aunt and uncle came running, was:
the red ball! the red ball! It's bouncing! And they had been very angry.
This was the same. She was going to wake up soon, because when you know
a dream's a dream its power is broken.
How long her terror lasted, Elinor didn't know. It could have been years, it could have been no time at all. Frantically, she dived out from under the covers and fell onto the floor, hurting her knee. She righted her lamp -luckily the bulb hadn't broken- and switched it on. Of course, the bed curtains hadn't really fallen down. The big knots in those cords couldn't come undone, they hadn't been touched for years. She climbed onto the bed again and crouched there with her head in her hands. But there was no point in crying. There was nothing to be done except try to get back to sleep.
She lay for a long time in misery, afraid
to sleep and afraid to have the light on. There'd been big trouble once
when her aunt had caught her reading late at night; and she was not
feeling lucky. Then, as her thoughts were growing muddled and blurred
at last, she seemed to hear the door of her room softly opening. Soft
footsteps, a child's footsteps came pattering towards the bed. Fear
rushed through her, a feeling of horror and terror worse than anything
that had gone before. She could hear the quick, sobbing breath. It must
be her little cousin Dekkie, He'd been crying. He had come to her for
comfort, why should she feel so afraid?
No answer, only the sobbing breath of a little boy...