The Fall Apart


Leila Siddiqui


YA Horror

Word Count:

52,000 words


Seventeen-year-old Afshan has never been comfortable in her skin. She wants to be like the other kids: popular, social, and allowed to hang out with friends on weekends. And it would help if they didn’t bully her mercilessly because her name is hard to pronounce.

Unfortunately, her ultra-religious parents have other plans for her. She must be a good girl, get good grades, and make their dreams come true by marrying into a rich family. Little do they know, Afshan is already damned. A jinn haunts her every night, telling her it will fix her bullying problems, her overbearing parents, and the mundanity of everyday life. That if she lets him possess her, his powers could transfer over to her and she’ll be able to conquer anything.

Harry gives her the gift of telekinesis, but she accidentally blows up half the cafeteria when the bullying goes too far. Her parents tip toe around her, afraid of what Afshan is slowly turning into. She even accompanies Harry on a tour of Hell, although the blood soaked torture houses leave much to be desired. Afshan thought she was having fun subverting her parent’s expectations of her, until her hair starts falling out, she’s haunted by hallucinations while she sleeps and wakes, and more sinister jinns begin to take notice. A new friend comes with new consequences. Harry’s after something more than just friendship; he wants her soul, but her spirit won’t go so easily.

My YA novel, THE FALL APART, is complete at 52,000 words. While writing this manuscript, I was inspired by my own experiences and of the many brown teens I grew up with in a small tight-knit community of Pakistani immigrants. Afshan is an amalgam of what frustrates us brown women the most, the expectations and the need to prove ourselves, not just to our peers, but to ourselves.

First 300 words:

CHAPTER ONE: The first time I met Harry, he was crouched at the foot of my bed. One of his grimy, black paws was on the mattress. I squinted through my lashes and spied him climb up my bed frame, his sinewy muscles twitching as he moved to sit atop the bedpost. He balanced there and watched me for hours, my own pet gargoyle, until I managed to fall back asleep.

I was sure he was nothing but a lingering relic from a nightmare, but when he returned the next night, a scream caught in the back of my throat and my leg involuntarily twitched, as if I’d be able to kick him back to where he belonged. I pretended to sleep, holding my breath to keep myself from gasping and praying that my heart wouldn’t beat through the blanket, while he did the same routine. He climbed up my bedpost and sat perfectly still.

He continued to visit me every night, until now a month later, I’ve grown accustomed to his stony nighttime vigils. At any point in the middle of the night, the closet door creaks open, my nostrils are overpowered by the smell of rotten eggs, and the temperature shoots up by twenty degrees. I lie still in my blanket, feeling protected in that cocoon while I sweat in places I’m too shy to locate.

The sulphurous smell is what usually wakes me, and sometimes I don’t need to open my eyes to feel his own red, cindering eyes in the dark. He never dares come any closer than my bedpost. I’m still waiting for the night he ever decides to do it.

Also, he’s covered entirely in hair, which is why I named him Harry.


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