Jamie Ayres is hosting a first page critique contest to celebrate Heather Birch’s debut novel Halflings. Participants are to post their first 250 words on their blogs, then hop around to everyone else’s to read their entries. Jamie will randomly draw five names to receive a critique from Heather. Does that make sense? After a 17 hour work day, that’s the best I can do. Anyway, here’s my first page from my YA dark fantasy titled The Grave Winner:
Dad, Darby, and I stood rooted in place long after Mom’s funeral. The weight in my chest threatened to suffocate me if I looked at the lid of her gleaming casket any longer. Instead, I focused on the black birds cutting across the sky in a sharp V formation. They pressed on until the clouds took them from me.
A different flutter in the corner of my eye pulled me back to earth. The movement took a few seconds to penetrate my numb brain. It was a girl. She crept in and out of the crumbling headstones, her body thick with mud and grime. Torn scraps of what looked like a prom dress hung from her scrawny frame. Her mouth sagged open like she was about to scream.
A shudder raced across my shoulder blades. I shook my head, afraid I might be dreaming. Darby stood next to me, and I reached out to touch her. She was real. Her ache was real. I felt it in the quiver of her bony body. But beyond her and the heaviness pinching my lungs, I couldn’t be sure of anything.
Inky black footprints tracked behind the dangling hem of the girl’s dress like a trail of burnt breadcrumbs. She stopped beside a tree and leaned her back against it.
More darkness pooled at her feet and crept up the trunk behind her.
Sweat trickled down the back of my dress. What was this girl doing? And what was all the black stuff dripping underneath her?