Free writing workshop for aspiring authors of young adult and middle grade fiction. The first five pages may be all that agents, editors, and readers read, so get them right with the help of three authors over the course of three weeks. During the third week, an agent will also critique your pages and your pitch and pick a workshop winner - the prize is a partial request!
Name: Carly Hilios Genre: Young Adult Title: The Killers Club
Of course, I hadn’t meant to slap her.
“Hey new girl. Who’d you fucking maim to get sent to butt crack Clatskanie as a senior?” she’d asked, snaking up behind me so silently I jumped.
If she’d stopped there – we would have been fine.
“Or maybe it wasn’t you, someone else. Maybe that’s why I’ve never seen your mom around. She locked up somewhere? Or was it that pretty sister of yours?”
Then-slap. She’d gone too far. This girl who I’d never met seemed to know a little too much about me – including exactly how to push my buttons.
After it happened we both just stared at my palm, me holding it up like I was carrying an invisible platter.
“Oh princess,” she said, a smirk forming on her skeletal face, swallowed cheeks showing the traces of dimples. “You so did not just do that.”
“How do you know anything about me?” I kept my voice low, even though we were alone in a back hallway, sounds filtering out of the cafeteria, but no one had actually been there – no witnesses.
She tossed her head back and snorted with giddy laughter, obviously pleased she’d crawled under my skin so quickly..
She was psychotic. A stalker.
A psychotic-stalker with the tips of her straw-blonde hair dyed a blindingly bright fluorescent pink –obviously freshly done in a home sink the night before. Stalking was the only thing that would explain how she knew anything about me. I’d lived in Clatskanie all of three weeks. I’d attended Clatskanie High all of four hours. Psychotic was the only thing that would explain her apparent ability to completely ignore pain. Either that or I just didn’t slap very hard.
“I read you like a book,” she leaned in, moving in a half-circle around me. Two kids tumbled out of a nearby classroom, laughing so hard they didn’t even notice me, an innocent new student, was being circled by this vulture of a girl. I shifted along with her body, not willing to let Pink-Hair out of my eyesight, not even for a second. “Look at you, just standing here, longingly staring at these photos of what, is it this girl you want to be?”
She gestured to the timeline of photos I’d been lost in. Photos of Clatskanie high students past – a whole timeline dating back to the first year the school was open in 1942. There were pictures of everyone who accomplished something. The state championship wrestling team, the debate team who was invited to a national competition - and the prom courts from every year.
Pink-Hair was pointing to the latest addition – the prom queen from the year before, her golden locks twisting and twirling in a side ponytail, her smile so alluring I’d been sucked right in. Pink-Hair was right, I had been staring. I’d been thinking it should have been my sister Cassie – which was ridiculous, considering the year before Cassie and I went to high school in Portland – but I couldn’t help but feel slighted when I saw the photo. Cassie would have been the perfect prom queen, everyone thought so. Until that dumbass Jared took it all away from her and ruined my life along with it.
And then Pink-Hair sauntered up with her all too-knowing comment and I snapped.
“I was just looking,” I said, snatching my backpack off the ground.
“Just looking? So that’s why my innocent little comment sparked such a pathetic display of rage?”
“You’re wrong about everything,” I said, shrugging like I hadn’t been fussed at all. “You have no idea what you’re talking about.” The last thing I needed was for this girl, or anyone at my new school for that matter, to have any reason to suppose I had a secret.
At least Pink-Hair didn’t seem like the type to be slapped and tattle. She was enjoying it too much to have to deal with things like teachers and detention, which I surely deserved.
I fumbled in the small pocket of my backpack for my school schedule, just wanting to get away from her and on to my next class.
With shaking hands, I tried to unfold the paper, the creases so thick and deep it was on the verge of tearing. In a fluid motion she snatched it from my hands.
With a snort and a roll of her eyes she handed it back to me.
Mr. Lee – Homeroom – Wednesdays only – Room 124
“And to think,” Pink-Hair said. “Your pearl earrings almost fooled me into thinking you were just a sweet little girl that would be fun to mess with.” She flicked at my ear lobe, the stud jiggling, and I pulled my head away but didn’t retaliate. I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction.
With one last nasty smile, she turned and stormed away, her to-the-thigh laced up black leather boots beating onto the floor with a satisfying rhythm of power.
The bell rang, signaling lunch was over, and kids immediately poured in every door of the school, weaving their way around each other going to class. Silently, I slipped into the tide.
Room 124 was in the math and science wing, the tile floor screeched under my shoes I as I took tiny steps so I didn’t run into the guy walking slowly in front of me. Finally, I made it to my homeroom door, and with a deep breath, collected myself, ready to go in and be that simple, sweet girl anyone and everyone would want to be friends with.
But when I opened the door the only thing that greeted me was Pink-Hair, already at a desk, a smug smile on her face. Her pointed finger was anchored in the thumbhole of a pair of scissors which she spun mercilessly on the desk, so fast, she made the kid next to her cringe.
“Welcome to the Killers Club,” she said.
“That’s not what we are,” the boy sitting beside Pink-Hair said. He had a yellow bag leaning up against his leg, a messenger bag and thick-rimmed glasses which took over his face . “She just made that up, it’s not a registered school club.”
I barely heard his words. I was caught off guard by the circle of chairs.
How I hated circles of chairs. It meant talking about feelings. Counselors. Accusations. Either that or musical chairs, but I didn’t hear any music playing.
A teacher typed away in the far back corner of the room, and looked up briefly when he saw my hesitation.
“You must be Jane,” the teacher, Mr Lee I assumed, called out. “You can sit by Scarlett there,” he waved towards Pink-Hair. Scarlett apparently.
“Are you okay?” Yellow-Bag Boy asked me, adjusting his big round glasses. Maybe I was out of focus. He had three pencils and two pens lined up neatly at the top of his desk and a red notebook that matched his red skinny tie centered perfectly on the table, just like the tie centered perfectly on his white collared short sleeve shirt.