Golden & Grey (An Unremarkable Boy and a Rather Remarkable Ghost) (Golden and Grey)

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9780689875854: Golden & Grey (An Unremarkable Boy and a Rather Remarkable Ghost) (Golden and Grey)

Tom Golden is a boy who doesn't fit in.
Grey Arthur is a ghost who can't figure out where he belongs. When a trick of fate creates an instant connection between them, Grey Arthur discovers what he is meant to be: Tom's invisible friend!

It seems like such a good idea -- Grey Arthur can make sure Tom always has his homework in class and protect him from bullies, and Tom never has to know. But when an accident gives Tom the ability to see and communicate with the ghost world, chaos breaks loose. Now everyone wants a piece of Tom, and Grey Arthur is the only one who can help him!

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Louise Arnold wrote her first poem (about the adventures of cheese-eating bees) at the age of four, and her love of writing was born. She graduated with a degree in drama from University of Kent in Canterbury, England, where she now resides.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Grey Arthur

Some ghosts are all lightning and fierce eyes, chains rattling and dramatic wailing. Some ghosts are made of mischief and mayhem, rearranging furniture when backs are turned and laughing a silent laugh at shocked faces. Some ghosts are made of centuries of tears, and just seeing them makes you feel sad for weeks after. Some ghosts seem like normal people, just a more see-through shade of real. And some ghosts, ghosts like Grey Arthur, are made of cloud, with no firm edges, and aren't very ghostlike at all. Ghosts like Grey Arthur don't make you feel scared, or confused, or sad: Ghosts like Grey Arthur you tend not to notice at all.

Which, thought Grey Arthur, was decidedly unfair.

However, fair or not, this was the way it was, and this was the way it continued to be.

The centuries spun on, as the centuries do, night following day following night. The seasons chased one another like a dog chases its tail -- summer, autumn, winter, spring...The hours rolled forward, the world grew older, paths turned to streets, streets turned to roads, roads turned to motorways. Castles fell quiet, then fell into ruins, then buzzed and whirred into life once more, full of tourists and tea shops and books on local history.

The world was changing, and yet some things stayed the same. Humans ate and slept and worked, ghosts haunted, screamed, and were mischievous, and Grey Arthur...Well, he was Grey Arthur, and didn't really do much.

The corridors of time echoed with hauntings, with the sound of Chain Rattlers rattling, Screamers screaming, Sadness Summoners weeping, Poltergeists laughing...Stories around campfires, or sealed inside books, talked of the Faintly Reals, of Bugs, of Snorgles, of faces underneath your bed or objects moving with nobody nearby. Ghost stories etched into legends, made into films, guided tours to haunted locations...

There were no stories about Grey Arthur passed down through the years. No legends, no myths, no tales told in whispers at sleepovers, no costumes stitched for October 31. What stories are there to tell about a ghost who isn't scary? About a ghost who doesn't haunt? What stories are there to tell about a ghost who just tends to fade into the background?

All that was about to change, though.

Because this is where Grey Arthur's story begins.

(It's a story he shares with someone else, but we'll get to that later.)

Arthur's story doesn't begin with a Once Upon a Time, in a Land Far Away. It begins with a Tuesday, in England, on a bench in a park.

It begins with a cold, damp day. A day where the sky is dull with bloated clouds that threaten rain. A day where the sun has decided it has far better places to be than on the cold misty edges of England.

It begins with Grey Arthur, sitting on that bench with his head in his hands (not literally, like some ghosts do, but in the way that miserable people sit), watching the Real World go by. Watching humans walk dogs, and play soccer, and eat sandwiches, and do whatever humans do on a Tuesday. The humans couldn't see Arthur, as humans can't see ghosts, but even if they could have seen him it's very unlikely they'd have been scared. Confused maybe, a little bewildered, but there wouldn't be a hint of terror. Grey Arthur just simply didn't look scary.

The best way to honestly describe Grey Arthur is that he looked as if he had been put together in a hurry. When he remembered to have two ears, one was invariably a bit higher on his head than the other, and his hair seemed to have been designed for someone with a different-shaped head. He looked like a boy, and was little-boy shaped, but a boy who had been photographed with a shaky camera, and his outline was all blurred. He wore a little ghostly shirt and waistcoat, and little ghostly trousers, with ghostly socks that didn't match and ghostly shoes that were all scuffed. When Arthur's concentration wandered, he tended to fray around the edges and become more cloudlike than child shaped, and this annoyed him endlessly. Finally, to top it all off, Grey Arthur took his name from the fact that he looked like he was made in black and white, like the old movies were.

Grey Arthur, all untidy and put together in shades of grey, sat on a bench in England on a grey-skied day, feeling thoroughly sorry for himself. See, the real problem, the thing that caused the shadow of sadness to cling to Arthur, the thing that caused a heavy ball of misery to tug inside him, was that he hadn't found out what he was yet. There are more different types of ghost than there are different colors of crayon, and yet Grey Arthur didn't belong to any group. He wasn't scary enough to be a Screamer, wasn't naughty enough to be a Poltergeist, wasn't melancholy enough to be a Sadness Summoner...Each different thing Arthur had tried to be, he'd failed. So this is why, centuries of trying and failing later, Grey Arthur sat on a bench on his own, head in his hands, watching the world go by. That Tuesday was the day that Arthur had realized something, and it had made him feel even greyer than usual.

Arthur had realized that he'd never fit in. After all these endless years of trying, he realized that it was time to give up.

It began to rain.

"Life isn't fair." He sighed.

Copyright © 2005 by Louise Arnold

Tom Golden

Tom Golden rushed through the front door of number eleven, Aubergine Road, slamming it shut behind him, and hurtled straight up the stairs to his bedroom, slamming that door shut behind him too. He flung his schoolbag on his bed and sloped across to the mirror on the far wall.

"Tom, is that you?" shouted his mum from downstairs. "Tom, dinner's ready."

"I'm not hungry!" yelled back Tom. He peered into the mirror on his wall and saw his eye was beginning to turn slightly purple where someone's elbow had smashed into it. His bottom lip began to wobble. As he looked in the mirror, studying the bruising beginning to frame his eye, he noticed something pink in his hair. He reached up to pull it out, and as his fingers sank into it he realized it was bubble gum. Tom breathed deeply, biting back on tears. He tugged it as hard as he could, but the bubble gum simply stretched and pulled at his scalp, and wouldn't shift.

"Tom, honey, are you okay? It's your favorite dinner; it's bangers and mash. You sure you don't want any?" called his mum from downstairs again.

"I'm fine, Mum! I told you I'm not hungry!" Tom picked up a pair of scissors from his desk and carefully began to cut away the tangled-up hair. The chunk of bubble gum fell out, with patches of Tom's hair sticking out from it at angles. The remaining hair protruded from Tom's head, an embarrassing tuft. Tom tried sticking it down with some gel, but it refused to lie flat with the rest of his hair, determinedly sticking out at a funny angle. Sighing, he reached across and opened his clothes drawer, and after rummaging around he found a baseball cap and put it on. Sinking down onto his bed, Tom put his stereo on and breathed deeply, trying to keep the tears at bay.

The CD player whirred to life, and Tom's favorite band, Cold Fish, began singing their hit "Bottom Feeder." Tom turned up the volume. Sometimes, if you turned up the sound high enough, you could almost drown out your thoughts. Fill your head with guitar and drums and try to push out all the insults that had been put there at school that day. Tom liked that idea, but even with the music turned up so loud that he could feel the bass rumbling in his chest, the insults still whirred around his mind, like hamsters running in a wheel, over and over and over again.

There was a knock at the door, and Tom turned the volume back down again. It was Dad's knock. You could always tell what parent it was by the way they knocked. Mum knocked lightly and fast, whereas Dad, by force of habit, always knocked out a little tune. Tap-tappy-tap-tap.

"Are you all right, Tom? Mum said you're not feeling very hungry," Dad said through the door.

"I'm fine, Dad."

"Can I come in?"

"No, I'm getting changed," lied Tom.

"You're not ill, are you?"

"I'm fine, Dad."

"You sure?"

"I'm sure, Dad."

"Well, you know if you want to talk..." Dad trailed off. Tom knew what he meant. "If you want to talk, I'm here, Tom," is what he would say. Tom didn't want to talk. What was there to say? What could Tom's dad do? Move them back to where they used to live? They'd only just finished unpacking here, the dustbin still filled to breaking with broken-down cardboard boxes and discarded bubble wrap. Make the kids here like him? If Dad intervened they'd make even more fun of him than they already did (if that was even possible). No, Tom didn't want to talk....

"Honestly, Dad, I'm fine. Just a little tired, that's all." He paused, trying to make his voice sound as light as possible. "I'll be down in a bit."

Tom heard his dad's footsteps traipsing back down the stairs, and he sat up on his bed and began to get changed out of his school uniform. He took off his tie and threw it on the floor. As he took off his shirt, he realized the whole back of it had been flicked and sprayed with pen ink, and stuck slam in the middle was a little note that had been taped on at some stage of the day. FREAK, it read, in big, fat letters.

The strange thing was, Tom Golden was an incredibly normal boy. His hair (which fitted his head perfectly, apart from the new tuft where the bubble gum had been) was mousy brown, and his eyes were also brown, like chestnuts or melted chocolate. He had two ears, both the same height, and there was nothing peculiar about them. They weren't pointed, or tiny, or massive, or green. They were distinctly average human ears on a distinctly average head. He was slightly shorter than most of the other kids in his class, but he wasn't pocket sized, simply smaller than average sized, and there's nothing wrong with that. He was the youngest in his year, a side effect of having a birthday on August 31, something that probably didn't help the height gap between him and the rest of the children in hi...

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