dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author

ChristyOur second submission for First Impressions is a YA Contemporary manuscript titled EVERGREEN by Christy Hintz. Here is the first page:

***

Everything looks perfect.  Strings of red lights drape across the ceiling and dangle from the center of the gymnasium, cloaking all the dancers in crimson.

Everything sounds perfect.  The music is upbeat, the bass a perfect volume, not that crass loud overbearing beat that makes everyone’s ears bleed and heart hurt.  Not like last week’s prom at East High–which naturally I crashed to be sure I didn’t overlook any details.  Nope, my prom is nothing like that.  Everyone is laughing and having a good time.  I circulate, smiling at my classmates, nodding at their dress and accessory choices.  The food table is topped off.  The chaperons are keeping their distance.

I approach a girl standing at the foot of the bleachers. I tap her bare, brown shoulder.  “Where have you been?”

She’s wearing a strapless, short black dress, one electric blue heel and one emerald green heel.  Her nails are each painted a different color of the rainbow, and today her eyes are a natural brown.  A thick strand of her black hair matches the electric blue shoe.

“Bathroom.”  She turns toward me.  “I sat on the seat and everything.”

“Ew.”  I fumble through my purse.

“What are you looking for?”

“Sanitizer.” I hand her a bottle.

She doesn’t take it, but asks, “And what, pray tell, shall I do with it?”

I steer her toward the hall.  “Spread it on the back of your thighs.”

She ducks out from under my hands and moves back toward the dance floor, laughing.  “You really are crazy.  Remind me again why I love you.”

“Why wouldn’t you?”  I put the sanitizer under her nose for one last try.

She shakes her head and I return it to my purse with a huff.

“I promise to wear sweats to sleep in later.  My germ-covered legs won’t touch anything in your house.”

“What about our toilet seats?” I watch as a girl in a mermaid dress takes the last water bottle from the refreshment table.

“Man.  I’ll shower when I get there. Okay?”

“Fine.” I gesture to the transformed gymnasium. “It’s all fantastic, right?”

“Beyond.”

Ms. Fulton, the only teacher not charmed by my straight A+ average and over-abundance of extra-curriculars is glaring at me from ten feet away like something’s gone amok.  All the other teachers patted my back and congratulated me on successfully orchestrating the prom-week festivities, parade, and dance.  Not her.

***

Since I kept scrolling uselessly down to the blank end of the page when I first read this submission, I guess it’s obvious that I would turn the page if there was more to read! I want to know what Ms. Fulton’s problem with the narrator is, although I can guess it might be her sexual orientation.

Our narrator gives us a strong sense of character. She’s competent, organized, energetic, and finicky about details and germs. I like her! It doesn’t bother me that we don’t know her name yet because her character is so strong.

It did bother me that she didn’t identify her date by name. The teacher got a name, and so did the neighboring school. Why not the girlfriend — if for no other reason than to avoid having two unnamed girls in this scene.

The line “I sat on the seat and everything” dragged me out of the story. It seemed like such a strange thing to say at that moment, even if the girl is transgender (which is the only reason I can think of for her to make that statement). And then there was the thought of putting sanitizer on her legs. (Oh, the burn!) By the time we got to sweatpants and germ-covered thighs, I was completely pulled away from the prom thinking about other people’s bathroom habits.  It’s just my opinion, and maybe it didn’t bother anyone else, but I wonder if there’s a way to steer the conversation so that we see evidence of their humor and fondness for one another while keeping our attention on the event of the evening, the prom.

Christy, thanks for sharing your page with us! Readers, do you have any other comments for her? Don’t forget to check out feedback from Krystalyn and Marcy, and you can find Christy at her writing blog, Erica and Christy.