Story removed per author's request....
A highlight of this piece was, for me, the vivid imagery. Indeed, from the very first sentence, the reader’s senses are manipulated—no, assaulted:
The weeds crackled in the summer heat, like tinder, brittle and brown.You can hear it, see it—reach out and touch it. I can clearly envision the way it would feel to run my hands through these weeds, the way they might make me itch as they grazed my bare legs. I squirmed more than once reading this story—the very thought of these grasshoppers bouncing off my skin…eww, talk about shivers. My heart pounded right along with Finn’s.
Which leads me to the next highlight of this story: the characterization. Quite strong, wouldn’t you say? Though Finn comes across as a more complex character, both he and Alice nearly jump off the page:
Alice’s blue eyes flashed, her lashes thick with mascara. Her black eyeliner made her look exotic, dangerous. She smelled like the weeds in the lot, like gasoline and bone-dry dirt. Finn wanted to kiss her. He liked the way she made his parents nervous, the way she didn’t care about school or money or popularity. She knew who she was.This says it all, doesn’t it? Youth, rebellion, and longing—it’s all there in just a few words. This paragraph is almost entirely about Alice, yet it also says so much about Finn, because we’re seeing Alice through his eyes...which leads me to my next point….
All of you who felt the heat in this story, please raise your hands. Yowza…I think my eyes nearly caught fire reading this. This story could possibly make a good showing as YA fiction, but the underlying sexual tension certainly makes it feel edgy—raw…at the far reaches of YA. There’s nothing overtly sexual; indeed, had there been, it likely would have lost its appeal. But consider the implications within the language:
He glanced at her tattoo again, the black and purple design, the red-flicking tongue.About makes you squirm in your seat, doesn’t it? My eyes bugged out when I read this line, and yet my face widened into a most delicious smile. I thought, Niiiiiiiiiiice. This was definitely my favorite line.
Overall, I found the subtlety of this story rather appealing. You have to dig a bit, perhaps even read it more than once to feel the full impact of this story. But it’s gorgeous, no? Boy likes girl that belongs to his friend…and yet, there’s an inner beauty, as well—a greater complexity to the plot and to the characters simmering beneath the surface of crackling weeds and grasshoppers and rebellious youths with tattoos. Best of all? The entire story (including the resolution) is implied in the image of a lizard opening its jaws wide, “its eyes…like glass under the heat lamp, the false sun.”
Thank you, Ms. Argyle for your entry. Simon and I both enjoyed reading your story. Congratulations on your first place win. Please be sure to e-mail your address and book selection to carolsimoncontest AT gmail Dot com. If you are interested in 10-page critiques, those will also be available to you.
Many thanks to all of our followers and supporters as well as to Laurel Garver and others from Simon’s writing group for your prize contribution. If you liked this story, be sure to check out Michelle’s personal blog The Innocent Flower and her group writing blog The Literary Lab. Michelle also has a photography blog, Glam’s Photography, which is definitely worth a peek.