a skeleton in  the familyThe first thing most people notice about me is my build. I’m kind of skinny. In fact, I’m skin and bones, minus the skin. You see, I’m a skeleton.

Don’t freak out. I’m still a person, albeit a dead one. I’m ambulatory, articulate, and exceedingly intelligent even without a brain. Nobody knows why I exist. Am I a ghost haunting my own skeleton? A zombie who dieted? The recipient of a radioactive spider bite? All I know is that I “woke” to rescue a little girl named Georgia, and moved into her house.

Fast forward twenty years and I still live with Georgia, along with Georgia’s teenaged daughter Madison. And the dog. Byron. I don’t like the dog. Unfortunately, he likes me a lot, the way Georgia and Madison like a big pot of chili.

Back to my day. I’m the first one up because I don’t sleep, so I hear Georgia’s alarm clock go off. Most mornings, I also hear her hit the snooze button, but I’m happy to clatter down from the attic to pound on her door. It’s strange how little she appreciates this. Then I tap on Madison’s door before zipping downstairs. Madison assures me that the dog won’t lunge out of the room to chew on me, but I remember the first time we met. He stole my ulna.

While the ladies perform their morning ablutions, I get breakfast fixed. Georgia feels guilty about my cooking since I don’t eat, but I don’t mind. I also fill up the dog bowl, but only to make sure the dog has something to chew on other than me. Eventually Georgia and Madison appear to shovel in their food, and as soon as breakfast is over, Madison grabs her books, waves goodbye, and hops onto her bike to head for Pennycross High School. Sometimes Georgia has time to spare, but on this day, she was teaching an 8 o’clock class and had to scoot. Georgia works too hard. She’s adjunct faculty at McQuaid University, which means she’s not on a tenure track. The pay stinks, and most nights she also teaches distance learning classes–courses taught via computer. It’s no wonder she’s tired in the morning.

With everybody else gone, it’s just me. And the dog, who I ignore as much as possible. I run upstairs to boot up my computer. I only recently discovered the wonders of the internet. It didn’t exist as such when I was originally alive, and I didn’t have access to a PC until Georgia moved back to Pennycross, but I learned quickly.

First up is Neopets, a game site I frequent. Since nobody knows I’m a skeleton, I can chat with other players about books, movies, and the game. It’s against the rules to discuss real world issues, but I don’t see much of the real world anyway. Next I go onto Facebook. My friends there don’t know I’m a skeleton either. When I’ve gone through my newsfeed, wished people happy birthday, and played a little Farmville, I go to my tumblr: sid-the-family-skeleton.tumblr.com It’s the one place I cop to being a skeleton, though nobody believes me. It’s kind of meta.

If I get tired of the computer, I pick up my latest book. I’ve been rereading the Sookie Stackhouse series because I love the idea of mythical characters in the real world. No skeletons, but the vampires are cool. As soon as I finish the last book, I’ve got a new one: Seven Kinds of Hell by Dana Cameron. I’m really hoping for a skeleton in it.

When Madison gets home from school, I go downstairs to keep her company, but I don’t help her with her homework, no matter what Georgia thinks. Okay, maybe I proofread a paper or two. (The dog never helps with homework.) Today she’s got big news. The drama coach announced that they’re doing Hamlet, and she wants me to help her run lines. We also cook up an idea I hope Georgia will go for.

With that in mind, by the time Georgia arrives, the table is set and salad, spaghetti, and garlic bread are waiting. Georgia is pleased, but I can tell that she is suspicious of our motives. Madison is smart, and she slowly works up to it. First she talks about Shakespeare in general, then Hamlet specifically, and then her favorite characters. Gradually she gets to the skull in the graveyard scene, and how the tiny drama budget means they’ll have to use a lousy paper maché prop. That’s when Georgia figures it out.

Of course she refuses to even consider the idea. It’s completely ridiculous and dangerous. Madison clears the table without being asked while I just listen to Georgia rave. looking at her with my best puppy dog eyes. (Which I could do to perfection even before Madison got the dog.) By bedtime, it’s settled. I’m going to be Yorick! At least my skull is.

I hug them both goodnight and before I go up to the attic, just this once I pat the dog.

You can read more about Sid in A Skeleton and the Family, the first book in the new “Family Skeleton” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime.

Thanks to Penguin, I have one (1) copy of “A SKELETON AND THE FAMILY” to give away. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends September 7; US entries only per publisher’s request.

Meet the author
Leigh Perry is the new pen name of Agatha-award winning author Toni L.P. Kelner. As Toni, she is the author the Laura Fleming Southern Mystery series, the “Where are they now?” mysteries, and many short stories; and co-edits New York Times bestselling urban fantasy anthologies with Charlaine Harris. As Leigh, she writes the Family Skeleton series. This “day with Sid” comes between the series debut A Skeleton and the Family (Sept. 2013) and the still-to-be-titled second book, in which Sid does indeed play Yorick in Hamlet. Leigh–and Toni–lives just north of Boston with her husband, two daughters, and two guinea pigs.

Visit Toni at her website, her blog, or on Facebook

Edit note: You can now visit Leigh at her new website.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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