Chapter One

It didn't feel any different being twelve rather than eleven, I didn't look any different either apart from my hair being a couple of inches longer and perhaps being a little taller.

By the time I was about to start seventh grade, I though my thoughts about what had happened had completely gone from my mind at last. Of course they had not gone altogether; how could they? But at least I thought it would be better than before; at least there were no more nightmares, and not to mention the jab incident; I tried not to look at the needle, I really did. I know that in logic I should've been more scared of buttons in a way but needles were long and sharp and they were the things which were used to sew the buttons . . .

I guess it was kinda dumb to think the other kids would believe me. As if starting at school wasn't bad enough especially in the middle of term, never mind when you're recovering from THAT! And then to give a really bad first impression and be labeled as 'that girl who tells crazy stories about Other Mothers' or as one of the other girls called me, 'button-eye girl' and the like.

I gave up after a while trying to explain and tell them that it was true. The only kid who knew that it was all true was Wybie but he wasn't much help at all; all he does is just sit over in a corner looking awkward.

He had helped me in other ways though; well, he had tried to anyway. I couldn't see how giving me a bunch of skeleton keys was much help. It wasn't like I would want to get back in there was it! I guess he thought that it might be a comfort to know that if I did get back in there, I could get out again.

Although my parents could not remember being trapped in a snow globe. They had come over when Wybie and I had only just started telling Miss Lovat what had happened. It would've been awful if they hadn't believed me when I told them but with Miss Lovat's support and the fact that I had told them about what a great time had been having the day after, they believed me. Of course, if they hadn't believed me then, they would've believed me after the nightmares I had.

At first, I thought that I hadn't been affected too much by the experience. It was a few days later that I realized I had been; that was when I had the first nightmare. I woke up screaming. I had slept in my parents' bed for the rest of the night with the door locked so that I might feel safer.

A single friendly smile was able to make me shiver for a time at school, not that I often got one; it was more often a smirk if anything. There were a few nice kids though; there was Neila, we were sorta friends, but she had loads of friends; perhaps she was kinder because she could relate to not so good situations.

She lived with her parents who seemed to be continually arguing, and, her little sister, Yalia, who was six and starting at the elementary school that year. (The school had an elementary school, a middle school and a high school).She was affected a lot more by the rows than Neila.

Of course there was Wybie, and I felt most comfortable with him because he knew what had happened; he had been involved at the end hadn't he? He had helped get rid of that hand and throw the key down that ancient, old well. I thought we were safe. We should've burnt the key or something, like with that doll.

It was the first day back from summer vacation and I was really hoping things would be better this year. The first thing I found out was that our would-have-been-principal had mysteriously disappeared and as there was no deputy, had had to be replaced at the last minute with a substitute. But that didn't matter that much. What real difference could it make?

It was the second thing that worried me. Not long after we entered the classroom we were told that we were going to have lessons in . . . NO! Not sewing! Anything but that! Could it possibly get any worse? Of all things! I couldn't think of anything worse (In this world anyway).

'There have never been sewing lessons in our school before,' Wybie said, 'wonder who'll be teaching us,'

'I heard our new principal will be,' Neila replied.

'That's a bit of an odd thing for a principal to teach, isn't it?' I asked.

'I suppose it is,' Neila responded.

'Maybe she's not actually qualified . . .' Wybie began.

'Who?' we both said together.

'Our new principal, maybe she was the only person they could find available in the short time. Principals normally seem to teach Math or English or something like that.' I suppose Wybie had a point but my mind was preoccupied with the thought of sewing . . .

'Oh, Coraline, you're not still scared of needles are you?' Neila asked. I felt awkward. 'Did you have an accident with a sewing machine when you were younger or something?' I didn't say anything. I had told her what had happened but, just like everyone else, she hadn't believed me.

'Don't worry, I've met the principal; she seems to be very nice.' Wybie reassured me. Well, at least Wybie thought our teacher wasn't too bad . . .

'Oh, Coraline,' Neila suddenly said, 'I was going to ask you, there are team trials on Wednesday, could you possibly look after my little sister until my parents arrive?'

'Huh? Oh, yeah, sure,' I replied rather unnaturally, still feeling concerned.

The first lesson would be after lunch. I spent the majority of recess in a cubical in the girls' bathrooms trying to reassure myself. There was no reason to be frightened of needles unless they were in the wrong hands, and they wouldn't be. The door was locked, the key was gone . . .

I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I didn't hear the bell and ended up being late. I tore down the empty corridors and burst into the room breathless.

'It seems we have a latecomer,' the adult said. That voice! No, my mind was surely playing tricks on me; yes, it was due to the thought of sewing . . . 'Are you going to give us an explanation as to why you are late?' she asked, her back still turned to me. I didn't want her to turn round. I feared what I would see. Please just let this be a trick of the mind! 'Well?'

'I-I-I f-forgot a-about the t-time . . .' I stuttered. I felt terrified; no, this couldn't be happening!

'Oh, you forgot; really . . . We've been waiting for you,' She turned toward me, 'Coraline,'

It had not been my mind. I wish it had been. If I hadn't frozen to the spot, I would've bolted from the room. She looked almost the same as the first time I met her, and the second, and part of the third, the only differences as far as I could see being her clothes and the pink rimmed shades which had particularly dark lenses she was wearing which I knew, if she took off, would reveal, a couple of black button eyes.