TO DREAM IS TO DIE
Eighteen-year-old Brenna Whit is entering college as a freshman and starting to meet new people, but she hides a dark secret. Because of an accident that happened three years ago, her spirit wanders the Fade whenever she falls asleep. It’s something she wants to keep hidden from the world, but when she sees someone watching her in spirit form, she fears the secret’s out. With new friends, possibly new enemies, school, and a new crush, Brenna has too much to worry about for just her freshman year of college.
THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED three years ago and afterwards… life was never the same. In school I had been a social butterfly; now I was a social outcast. A few people still made an effort to talk to me, but most stayed away. They knew better; they knew something had changed the day I died. Everyone could feel it—and it frightened them. I couldn’t blame them. It scared me too.
The day I died was the day I stopped dreaming. Everything seemed to bother me before: social dramas, dating, my sister stealing my books, but it didn’t matter as much anymore. The day I died was the day I started to live with the dead.
I like to think I was a modern-day zombie with some vampire qualities. During the day, I was your typical human girl: average height, average looks, chestnut hair, and brown eyes. The girl next door on every street. Average, yet seeping with sarcasm. A personality trait my mother did not enjoy. Then at night, I would sleep and wake to find myself somewhere else—on the spiritual plane, or the Fade, whatever it was called – walking amongst the dead. And just like the living, the spirits ignored me as well. An oddity to be feared and pushed aside on any plane of existence. I guess people are all the same, no matter what plane of existence, no matter the time, and no matter the day.
And today was the “first day of the rest of my life,” the day I move into college. Yes, I sensed the irony. It might have even been the fresh start I was hoping for, as long as my sarcasm didn’t rear its ugly head. Chances were slim. If I were lucky, my roommate wouldn’t be crazy, or notice just how nuts I was.
“Brenna, give me a couple more boxes,” my dad grunted, swiping a hand through his short graying hair. “Why does this building have to have so many damn stairs?”
“It’s not like I chose to live on the fourth floor of the dorm—and we could have taken the elevator, you know…” I blew my shaggy side-swept bangs out of my eyes as I hoisted a heavy box onto my shoulder; I should have taken mom up on that haircut….
“And wait for 30 minutes each trip? No thank you. Your mother is going to be enough of a basket case as it is. Helen! The door, please?” he yelled.
My mom quickly opened the door revealing a room—my room—already crammed with junk. Luckily for us, my roommate hadn’t arrived yet, so stuffing the room with boxes wasn’t that big of a deal. Since that was the last of everything in the car, I began the long process of unpacking and staked out the bed on the right-hand side of the room. First come, first serve, right?
A little over an hour later – with my parents’ help – all of my clothes were put away and my TV was hooked up. When Dad let out a telltale sigh, I knew he was ready to leave.
“Mom, you and dad head on home, I can finish all of this.” I told them.
A flicker of worry crossed her face. “It’s your first time living away from home. Are you sure you’re going to be all right?”
“I’ll be fine, Mom, besides, you’re only two hours away,” I reassured her.
Dad came up beside her and nodded. “She’ll do great. I’m sure Nephesburg College will suit her just fine. It’s a small school —what could happen in this sleepy little town?”
“Famous last words, hon.” Mom flashed me a smile and rolled her eyes in an attempt to hide the emotions so plainly written across her face.
Dad shook his head and pulled out a small wad of bills. “Just so you’ll have some spare cash—don’t spend it all on booze.”
I rolled my eyes and opened my mouth to remind Dad that he knew me better than that, but before I could, a short and very tan girl walked in.
“Are you Brenna?” She asked as she pulled her sunglasses off.
“Yeah, I guess you’re Erica?” I understood right away we wouldn’t be spending that much time together. She was dressed in what one might call conspicuously top label clothing and had that “California air” about her. The black, tightly curled hair and spray-tanned skin sealed the deal. She smacked her glossy pink lips together and surveyed the room with excitement in her baby blue eyes.
“Oh my God, how exciting is this? I’ve finally met my roommate and I finally get to move out of my house! Yes! Yes, I am Erica Belmont!” She bounced up and down at the end of her proclamation. My dad’s eyebrows climbed further into his hairline than I thought was possible.
As if on cue, a tall blonde woman walked in behind her. “Erica, you are far too loud. I could hear you all the way down the hall.” Erica just rolled her eyes and bounced out of the room. While my mother chatted with the woman—who introduced herself as Erica’s mother—my dad and I exchanged looks. His eyes, wide with exasperation, spoke more volumes than the textbooks piled up beside the bed. This year was going to be interesting.
After a few minutes of eavesdropping on their conversation, I learned that Erica was, unsurprisingly, easily excitable and, as I had already guessed, originally from California. She’d already met a lot of people on campus and knew where to go to hang out with some other kids, which excited my mom. I knew she wanted me to meet new people so that college wouldn’t be a high school repeat. Chances were low.
Suddenly everyone was gone, leaving us—the two new college students—alone to get to know each other. It seemed as though Erica wanted me to know everything about her, and not the other way around. I just pretended to listen while I finished unpacking. I was pretty sure I saw her breathe only six times during her entire thirty-minute information regurgitation. I learned that when her dad and grandfather died years ago in an accident, she and her mother inherited a ton of money that allowed them to move to a larger home in California and live what Erica called a comfortable life, which probably involved Ferraris and trips to Europe every once in a while. Big surprise there. Apparently, she wanted freedom from all of that – her mom always caught her when she snuck out to the clubs back home – and here in Virginia is where she thought she could find that. She went out to clubs all the time, but she wanted to party without having to worry about getting caught. At least she had her priorities straight. I think I heard Patrick Henry rolling in his grave.
While Erica had barely made a dent in her unpacking, I had gotten everything out and completely set up. My bed was made, clothes put away, desk set up, and the TV was all ready for watching with my PlayStation 3 attached. I turned the TV on low as to not seem rude to Erica, but I was tired of her chattering. I considered the possibility that she was actually a robot, programmed to keep talking until the nearest person smashed her to bits with a baseball bat. Testing my theory seemed a service to both science and mankind as a whole. But that was my cynicism talking.
“Brenna! Did you hear me? I asked if you could help me and unpack a little bit!” Erica yelled, interrupting my thoughts of a Nobel Prize, finally aware that I was ignoring her by now. Damn, and I was doing so well.
“Thanks. Anyway, where are you from? Is your family rich? I saw your dad hand you some money.” She asked while carefully reapplying her lip-gloss. In a swift motion, I used the scissors to rip the packing tape on the box closest to me.
“I’m from Richmond—it’s about two hours away. We aren’t rich, but we are well off, I guess. I mean, I haven’t heard anything about money problems…” Glancing into the box revealed too many thongs in colors that should not have existed in the visible spectrum. I quickly shoved the box in Erica’s direction.
She looked genuinely disappointed. “Oh, well that’s cool, I guess.” She didn’t seem to know what else to say, which was fine with me. Sadly, the blessed silence didn’t last long. A calamitous assault at the door was followed by a frenzy of loud and energetic girls filling the room.
“How was the trip?”
A bleach blonde girl with a nose stud squealed as she gave Erica a hug. “Want to go to dinner in the dining hall? It’ll be our first college meal!”
Erica didn’t hesitate to accept. “I’ll go with you guys, sure! It was a boring flight! My God, I didn’t even get a window seat. I’m so glad I’m finally here.” As she was rushing out she stopped and looked back at me. “Brenna, did you want to come?”
Although the idea of being social was probably a good one, I knew being social with them would only bring out my sarcastic bitchiness. I was pretty sure that wasn’t the best way to get to know my roommate. “No, I need to finish some things up here. Thanks though.”
I really had nothing to do, and Erica knew that well. Her blue eyes hardened a touch as she closed the door behind her. Finally, the room was quiet and I was alone.
I surfed through the local channels before finally giving up and deciding to go for a walk instead. Grabbing my iPhone, I locked the door and headed out of the tall brick dorm building. Even though it was already beginning to darken, there were still some freshmen moving around. I recognized a few from my summer orientation group. As I suspected, they steered clear of me. During orientation, I had tried to be pleasant, tried hard to be nice to a lot of them, attempting to at least make one friend. But something about me made them politely smile and nod before walking away. I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair before continuing my trek around campus.
A native of Richmond, Virginia, Sarah Lampkin is a 2015 graduate from Lynchburg College with a master’s degree in English. Since graduation, Sarah moved to Northern Virginia to work in the IT field as a Technical Writer while continuing her research for her graduate school thesis. When she isn’t work, Sarah continues her Celtic mythology research and Gaelic studies, while working on the Dead Dreamer series.
Although she currently lives in Northern Virginia, Sarah frequently travels back home to Richmond to visit family, friends, and her godchildren. During the winter months, she is in Richmond more frequently to spend time in the woods hunting and contemplating the meaning of life. She doesn’t always succeed in both endeavors, but the music of nature is worth it for peace of mind.
In her free time, she likes to play RPG video games, and rock climbing. To make sure she can make the most out of her day, she wakes up at 4am every morning to work on her fitness, so in the evening she has time to continue writing. Her passion for writing has been around since high school where she wrote her first short story. It continued as she worked towards her bachelor’s degree, and that is where the Dead Dreamer series began. Although only self- published via online, Sarah’s dream is to write for a living and continue to create fictional worlds where her mind can reside.
Her work mainly focuses on Celtic themes, mixed with elements from the spiritual world. And her characters always have a flair of attitude and sarcasm because writing damsels in distress is something she just can’t do.
READ THE CHILD DREAMER PREQUEL HERE
1 winner will receive a $10 amazon gift card to giveaway and a Dead Dreamer charm necklace, US only.
1 winner will receive a signed finished copy of TO DREAM IS TO DIE (when available) and a Dead Dreamer Hoodie, US only.
12/31/2018- jrsbookreviews– Excerpt
12/31/2018- Jaime’s World– Spotlight
1/1/2019- Texan Holly Reads– Excerpt
1/1/2019- Owl Always Be Reading– Excerpt
1/2/2019- Sweet Things– Excerpt
1/2/2019- Bookbriefs– Excerpt
1/3/2019- Smada’s Book Smack– Excerpt
1/4/2019- BookHounds– Excerpt
1/4/2019- Parajunkee– Excerpt
1/7/2019- Reese’s Reviews– Review
1/7/2019- Sincerely Karen Jo– Excerpt
1/8/2019- Book-o-Craze – Review
1/8/2019- Good Choice Reading– Excerpt
1/9/2019- Loie Dunn– Review
1/9/2019- Two Chicks on Books– Excerpt
1/10/2019- Book-Keeping– Review
1/10/2019- Confessions of a YA Reader– Excerpt
1/11/2019- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review
1/11/2019- Whatever You Can Still Betray– Excerpt