We are excited to announce that The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow has been updated! You can check out the new chapters online and tell us your thoughts about Fairday's story. During the month of December, we will be hosting a drawing contest, where you can enter to win a signed hardcover edition of the book, plus a surprise bonus gift! Details for the contest will be posted soon, so get your pencils ready! ~ Jess & Stephanie
Happy reading! And, remember...
Chapter One: The Begonia House
Fairday Morrow couldn't help but agree with Dorothy. She was definitely not in Kansas anymore. She stared out the car window at the passing trees and fields, not quite seeing all the “endless possibilities” her parents talked so cheerfully about. It wasn’t fair, moving to stupid Ashpot. The Morrow family cruiser bumped and jerked down the road and her two-year-old sister, Margo, giggled noisily, bouncing up and down in her seat. Fairday turned her attention back to the aged, brown leather book resting on her lap. It was one of her most prized possessions, and just the sight of it improved her mood. A hint of a smile caught her lips as she heard her grandma’s voice in her head reading The Wizard of Oz. Fairday began to lose herself in the sway and motion of the ride and relaxed into the story.
The car made a sharp right turn and began to ascend the narrow, winding road that led up to the Begonia House, or, as of today, the Morrow House. Fairday glanced up, and other than the rough road that tossed them about, she could see nothing but a tangled mesh of woods that seemed to spread out over the entire hill. Margo had fallen asleep, and her parents had stopped talking. It was very quiet in the car as they trundled up and up. Finally, as the road began to level out, they reached the front gate. It was enormous and made of iron. Twisted vines were wrapped tightly around its pointed, black bars, making it look like the entrance to some kind of morbid secret garden. Across the top of the gate, in large letters it read:
FEAR NOT THE UNEXPECTED
“Weird,” Fairday said. “It should say, ‘fear not living a thousand miles from civilization.’”
“Oh, now, Fairday, no eleven-year-old as clever as you ever died of ennui. That’s another word for boredom,” Mr. Morrow said cheerfully. He was an avid English teacher and was constantly throwing out new and exciting, as he called them, words to improve Fairday’s vocabulary. “I’m sure you will find lots to do here. Incidentally, this house has a pretty interesting history, very mysterious. Right up your alley with your little club and all, the Detective Mystery Squad, right?”
“That’s right!” Mrs. Morrow piped in. “You can invite Lizzy for a sleepover once we’re settled in, and you guys can investigate. I’m sure the town library has all sorts of information on the history of this house. It’s very famous in these parts. After you girls have conducted a thorough investigation, you can fill me in on all the juicy details about the scandals and mysteries that took place in the home.”
“Hmph,” sulked Fairday at the mention of her best friend’s name. She had met Lizzy Mackerville in the second grade and, from that day on, they were inseparable. Everything about Lizzy was jolly. She had bouncy, blonde curls that framed a pink, heart-shaped face, and a cheerful, bubbly disposition. Fairday was the exact opposite of Lizzy. She was tall and lean, with long, black, shiny hair that she usually had pulled in a ponytail, which hung right down to the small of her back. She was always very pale and never had the usual amount of cute baby fat most people cooed over and pinched cheeks about.
One feature Fairday liked about herself was her eyes. They were a very unusual charcoal gray and the reason she had such an uncommon name. Her mother always said that Fairday’s eyes reminded her fondly of the swirling tides of blue-gray waters that swelled up onto the sandy shores of Nantucket, which was where she grew up. When the weather was less than pleasant on the island, the fishermen would inform the tourists who came eagerly to charter their boats, “Jus’ waiting on the fair day t’morrow.” And so, Fairday was named, Fairday Theresa Morrow, or Fairday T. Morrow. She had to field some annoying criticism in school about it, which went something like, “Fairday? What kind of a name is that?” or, “Fairday, more like bad hair day.” But, she didn’t care. She liked the story, and she liked her name.
Mr. Morrow exuberantly found the key to the gate, which was as black and bizarre looking as the gate itself, and held it up for everyone to see. It had sharp, skeletal teeth and the handle was shaped into what looked like some sort of grim flower. He made a drum roll sound and then exclaimed emphatically, “Here we go! I am now going to open the gateway to our future!” Mr. Morrow climbed out of the car and walked over to the creepy gate. The key slid easily into the lock, which resembled a wide, gaping mouth, and it clicked loudly as he gave it a turn. He pushed the heavy double gates, and they slowly swung open.
The family was quiet as the car passed through the iron barricade. Even Margo, who had just woken up, was wide-eyed and straining against her car seat to check out the new scenery. The woods began to thin out as they continued on towards the house. The drive was now less bumpy and thankfully, thought Fairday, they were no longer going up. Mr. Morrow turned the car around a corner, and the outline of an enormous house came into view. He pulled around the circular drive and put the car into park.
“Here we are!” he said excitedly, and turned in his seat to face Fairday. “Is it as big as you remember?”
“Uh, yeah,” Fairday mumbled in response. She looked up at the great, old house apprehensively and added, “and just as creepy,” under her breath.
“Well, let’s get a move on,” Mr. Morrow said eagerly and banged open the car door.
Mrs. Morrow pulled Margo out of the car seat and lifted her up over her shoulder. Margo cooed and squealed, pointing at the house, “Uggy, Mommy!”
“See, even Margo thinks it stinks,” Fairday said triumphantly.
Mrs. Morrow laughed and replied, “Yes, it’s not as beautiful as it once was, I’m sure.”
“But,” Mr. Morrow interrupted loudly, “it will be!” He gave Mrs. Morrow a kiss, made a silly face at Margo, and patted Fairday on the head. “Let’s leave our trunks here for now and come back for them after we’ve had a chance to investigate our new abode. Abode is another word for dwelling, Fairday,” Mr. Morrow said. He located the right key and, once again, held it up dramatically.
Fairday rolled her eyes. Her father loved to over-emphasize everything. Enough with the key drama, she thought. “We get it, Dad. New house, key to the future,” she quipped. “Can we just go inside now?” Mr. Morrow looked a little hurt and unlocked the door without saying anything else. Fairday instantly felt terrible. “I’m sorry. I’m just missing home and it was a long drive,” she said apologetically and hugged her father.
“I know sweetie, it’s a big move. It will take some time to adjust, but I promise you, this is going to be a real adventure for all of us,” Mr. Morrow said lovingly and squeezed Fairday tight.