Wednesday, March 17, 2010

First 500 words of Peridot Cage

I thought it might be fun to post the first 500 words of my Young Adult Contemporary/Fantasy novel that I'm am re-writing. I am having it critiqued this April for a conference, so I thought it might be fun to post this now and then post it again after I get it critiqued.

Peridot Cage
by Rachel Allen Dillon

"Do you think the birds will mind if I take one of their feathers?” Renna asked her best friend, Sean. She didn’t wait for his answer and sprinted towards the flock. She stopped in the middle of hundreds of small birds as they raced into the air to avoid her touch. Renna closed her eyes to listen to the gentle flapping; rejoicing in the birds’ freedom.

She bent down and picked up a single feather and brushed it against her cheek.

“You’re weird, you know that mate?” Sean said with a thick English accent. He laughed as she joined him under a huge African acacia tree.

“It took you two years to realize I’m weird?” Renna shoved him. “You know, of all the countries I’ve lived in, I love Kenya the most.” She said. “There are so many amazing things here. I’ve got a million images to paint. I think my dad even likes it. He was just saying--”

“Shhh. Did you hear that?” Sean turned towards an area of high golden grass and thorny bushes.

“Hear what?” Renna paused and rolled her eyes. “Don’t get all paranoid on me again. Remember the time you thought a giraffe was tracking us? Ha-- that was a good one.”

“It was a huge snap. You really didn’t hear anything?” He dragged his fingers through his light brown hair and looked at her with concern. “What if it’s a lion or something?”

“You’ve been reading way too many scary books about Africa. Are you really fourteen or two?” She reached out and pinched him. He pulled his arm back and glared at her.

Recognizing he was really afraid, Renna consoled him, “The night watchman said they haven’t seen lions near the village for a long time.”

“Yeah? Okay. We should head back anyway, you know how pissed off my mum gets when we take too long of a break.” Sean glanced back towards the wall of grass as they headed to his house in the village.

“You’d think your mom was running a real school or something. Gheesh, it’s just you and me, and it’s not like we’ve been late that often.” She kicked the dirt. “She can be so strict.”

“Try living with her,” Sean said. He smiled.

Renna shaded her eyes and squinted at Sean’s handsome face. He had to be at least a foot taller than she was. Sweat dripped down his forehead as the noon sun beat down on them. Renna was almost thirteen, old enough to like a boy, but smart enough to hide it. He was her first best friend and she didn’t want to ruin things by liking him. She had no idea how long it would be until she and her dad moved again, so she tried not to get too attached.

A loud crunch stopped them in their tracks.

Sean put his arm protectively across Renna. They were silent as they listened and watched the grass rustle. A moment later, a small antelope leaped out from behind the brush. Renna and Sean jumped back. The animal quickly changed directions to avoid hitting them.

Sean exhaled loudly.