Monday, August 18, 2014

RW Critique Winner - Christy

Thank you Christy for so graciously offering to submit your first three pages so those who aren't in a critique group could see how we do it. Here are your pages without any mark-ups. 
ANCORA
Katie twisted the stark white feather between her fingertips. Three feet from base to tip, it was unlike any she’d ever seen. Not just because of its size, but because of the way it glimmered -- as if it possessed its own light source.
She ran a finger over its tufts. How could it be so strong and soft at the same time? A single bead of water slid from the feather’s base to its tip, glittering in the moonlight and falling to the ground.
As she held it, something tugged at her inside. She had an urge to answer, to yell out, “yes!” and “here I come!” It startled her, but instead of dropping the feather, she curled her fingers even more tightly around it.
She was in her secret place, a tucked-back nook in the woods near her house. She guarded its secret like a dragon hoarding a jeweled chalice, never mentioning it to anyone, careful no one saw her coming or going between its branches.
She first discovered the spot between a thick of bushes and trees draped in green hanging moss. The dome of limbs and vines arched from the ground like the half-circle monkey bars on a playground. To her it was a fortress, a castle, a secret keep. She trekked the woods near her house, pulling down palm fronds to cover the dome. She named her hideout Palm Island.
Katie escaped to Palm Island anytime she needed to be alone. Days like today.
As she examined the feather, a shiver ran all the way down her spine and left a trail of goose bumps to her toes. It mattered. Yet she did not know why, or how much – only that it did.
Just then, she was startled by a quick flash of movement through the layers of branches and vines. Then a stir of leaves. A step-crunch-step.
 From her shadowed alcove, she pulled back a branch and peered out, the feather clutched at her side. Ahead, another white flash swished through panels of shadow and light. She walked toward it, but the footsteps receded. The whiteness vanished.
The surrounding air thickened and grew damp, the sounds of night distant, muffled as if swallowed in a cloud.
Her grandmother’s voice sliced through the murky air. Katie whipped her head toward home. At that moment, a gust of wind snatched the feather from her hand. She darted to catch it, but it streaked away, spiraling into the night.
And it took some part of her with it -- a small, lonely spark of light that hadn’t been there before.
Katie remained staring up long after the faintest glimmer had vanished.
Her grandmother’s third call broke the spell over her, and she turned toward home. 

In the house, pots and pans clanked from the kitchen and the smell of sautĂ©ed onions and ground beef filled the air – her grandmother starting dinner.
Katie would offer to help, but her Grandma would only usher her away, telling her to go visit her mom. She needed a little more time to work up the courage.
In her room, she slumped to the floor. A year ago, the doctors said her mother had two years to live. The past year had vanished like a word written too close to the ocean’s shore.
Katie absently lifted both hands to cover her heart. A painful ache started there the day she learned her mother had cancer, and had only grown worse since. She wondered if other girls her age felt this way. She was only twelve but sometimes felt as though she’d lived twelve lifetimes.
Her cat Coal squeezed in the doorway and rubbed against her sneakers. His eyes met hers and he greeted her with a trilling mew.
“Hi Coal,” Katie said. She stroked his silky black fur. He purred and dropped to his back, looking up at her from half slit eyes.

“It was a rough day,” she said, scratching his stomach. He took her hand between his front paws and licked one of her knuckles, then rolled on his side. His tail hit the carpet in soft thumps.

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