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Kim Chatel

Author - Photographer - Fiber Artist

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The Stone Beach

When Caroline begins her last year of middle school, she barely recognizes her best friend. Brenda dresses differently. She blows off classes, homework, and friends. But has Brenda really changed, or is Caroline just seeing her with new eyes?

Brenda flaunts her new boyfriend, and Caroline feels like a third wheel. But she has worries that Brenda doesn’t understand. Her fifteen-year-old cat, Casey, is sick, and the vet has been hinting that it’s time to put him to sleep. How can Caroline lose her two best friends at once?

With Casey’s poor health weighing on her, Caroline makes an unexpected friend in Aimee, the darkly troubled girl who lives next door to her family’s farm. In her bluff way, Aimee helps Caroline to let go of Casey as unexplainable occurrences take place along the river that runs at the bottom of their yards. Unable to explain these events, Caroline begins to discover that some friendships are not worth keeping, others are worth fighting for and still others will endure into the afterlife. 

Kim Chatel seamlessly weaves the supernatural into the essence of The Stone Beach and perfectly captures the emotions that every pet owner feels when saying goodbye to a beloved pet.

Suggested reading age: 11-14.

Sneak Peek

Caroline wasn’t in the mood for Aimee tonight. Casey was lost. It was getting dark, and she’d have to leave him outside to fall prey to whatever the night would bring.

They watched in silence for a while as the last light faded, leaving the stone beach in shadow. Suddenly, from high in the trees behind them, Caroline heard yelling. She tensed for a moment, thinking her mom had called, but no. The voices were an angry man and woman. They were too far away to hear the argument, but the rage was clear enough. Something shattered. The voices were quiet for a moment and then exploded again, louder than before.

“I guess I can’t even escape them here,” Aimee said. Caroline was about to ask who, when she noticed the strange expression on Aimee’s face,
embarrassment. She hadn’t thought it possible to embarrass the brash Aimee Jones.

“My parents.” Aimee shrugged as if it explained everything.

“Oh.” Caroline hated herself for uttering such a stupid response. She didn’t know what to say. Her parents rarely argued, and never with such outright rage. How did Aimee stand it?

The two girls sat on the stone beach, listening to the parent-storm above them. Caroline was too embarrassed to get up and leave now, as if it would make it worse somehow. Aimee, clearly, had nowhere else to go.

Eventually the storm blew itself out. Aimee still made no move to leave, despite the growing dark. Caroline’s mother would worry about her, but she couldn’t make herself leave. Not without saying something.

“So how come you spell your name that way?” she asked, pointing to the notebook with “Aimee” scrawled all over it.

“It’s French. My grandma’s from the south. They still speak French there, or something like it.” She smiled at Caroline wryly. “It means ‘loved’.”
Caroline smiled back at her.

“That’s pretty sucky,” she said. Both of them seemed to know, Caroline would never tell another soul Aimee’s name meant something so mushy.

“Yep,” Aimee said. “I sure feel the love.”

The girls burst into nervous laughter that turned genuine.

“I think my parents were hippies,” said Aimee, catching her breath.

“Mine still are. If I have to hear one more time about the benefits of compost, I’m gonna puke.”

After another moment of companionable quiet, Aimee asked, “So what are you doing out here, anyway?”

“Looking for my cat. I haven’t seen him all day. I’m worried he might be hurt.”