Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday's Mentionables: A YA Excerpt

I actually had a chance to do a little work on my YA novel over the weekend (amid TONS of papers to be graded, but that's another story). So I thought I'd share an excerpt. This one happens about 1/3 of the way in, when the main character, Annie (who is psychic and can hear dead people inside her head) decides to suggest a way for the girls at her new school to rein in their hard-partying boyfriends. Of course, she's just met Mr. Dreamy, which complicates things more than a little. (If you recall, this story is loosely based on the Greek play Lysistrata, and this is one of the first times it's referenced.)

Hope you enjoy it!


The whole rest of the night, I’m floating. Nothing can bother me. Not the tight knot of tension around the dinner table, not the English paper that’s due tomorrow, nothing. I think of Manuel kissing me, winding his fingers through mine, and my heart squeezes until it feels like it might burst. I haven’t been this happy in a long time. I even offer to do the dishes and haul the garbage to the curb for tomorrow’s early-morning pickup. Outside, the sun is settling into the hills, and it’s turned a little cool. I don’t care. I wrap my arms around myself and breathe in the scent of freshness. Of possibility. The leaves are beginning to turn all these burnt orange and red colors, and they’re so gorgeous they take my breath away. I stand at the end of our driveway for a while and just take it all in.

My good mood lasts until almost eleven, when Heather pops up on You’nverse. “Hey you there?” she types.

“Yeah.” I click the Print button on my computer and wait as three pages of my paper slide out. There. A pink paper clip in the upper left corner, and I’m done. Now I can curl up under the covers and dream about –

“I wanna kill myself.”

The paper falls from my hand. “What?” My fingers slip on the keys.

“Not really.”

“Oh. What’s up?” I know she’s still upset about Bradley-and-the-prank, but it sounds like the guys are getting off pretty easy, with just a week’s suspension. The administration at school might bring in the drug dogs, or try to crack down for a while, but I’m betting everything will go back to normal after too long.

“The college recruiters called Bradley today.”


“All of them are pulling their offers.”

I stare at the computer screen. That does suck.

“How is he?” I type after a minute.

“Won’t even talk to me.”

“How’s Tom?”

“Still in the ICU.”

I sink onto my bed and pull the laptop onto my crossed legs. Kenny was right when he said What a total mess. Maybe this is more serious than I thought. I mean, the five guys who got caught during the prank don’t fall into just one social group, as far as I can tell. Bradley and Derrick are starters on the football team, but Les is a brain in the drama club, Philly’s the cool, dangerous guy with the pimped-out car, and Tom’s the stoner who makes everyone laugh. I’m beginning to find out that in a school as small as Parker’s Point, there’s a lot of crossing over.

Which means that this fiasco didn’t just cut the legs out from under one clique. It pretty much cut the legs out of the school.

I still don’t know what to say to Heather, who’s filled the chat box with “????????????”

Then my eyes fall on the stack of books on my desk. At the very top is the copy of “Lysistrata,” the play about the women who stop the war between Athens and Sparta. I read it over the weekend, when I was avoiding Manuel and Mom and pretending to escape to ancient Greece.

Now I’m wondering if those women were onto something.

“Here’s a crazy thought,” I type.


“Maybe we can change things.”

“Change what things?”

All the partying, I want to say. And the ridiculous pranks. But I don’t want to come across like a total prude.

“It’ll be like a social experiment.” There. Dad would be proud of that.

Dad… The happiness in my chest from Manuel is replaced by the sting of loss.

“What r u talking about?”

“There’s this story,” I begin to explain. “Well a play actually. About a bunch of women who got their men to stop acting like idiots.”


“They refused to sleep with them until they cleaned up their acts.”

The screen stays blank for almost a minute. I wonder if Heather thinks I’m totally insane.

“Forget it,” I finally type. “Stupid idea.”

“No not really. But who’s gonna do it? I mean, every girl in the school?”

She raises a good point. There’s no way two hundred girls are just going to drop their boyfriends – especially if their boyfriends aren’t the ones acting like idiots in the first place. What did Lysistrata do? I pull out the play and begin flipping pages. She just kept talking to the other women until she convinced them to listen to her. I shake my head. I don’t think I have that much power here.

Then my gaze falls on the blue sheet of paper still lying on my desk. Winter Formal. Two months away.

“How about no girl goes to Winter Formal unless the guys stop partying at the Cove?”

“R u kidding? Winter Formal’s amazing.”

“U said most guys spend the night drinking and puking in the bathroom. What’s so amazing about that?”

There’s another long pause. I can almost see Heather thinking it over, her face frowning and her blue eyes filling as she thinks of her super-star boyfriend reduced to a common felon.

“OK I’ll talk to some of the girls.”

“I’ll talk to Charise.” She has connections with the smart crowd, seniors included, ‘cause she’s taking a lot of advanced courses and electives. I cross my fingers. If we’re lucky, some of them might get a kick out of reenacting a centuries-old play. Brainiacs are like that.

“C u tomorrow? Talk more then?”

“Yeah.” I shut down the computer and return to my fantasy of kissing Manuel. This time, though, we’re in my bedroom instead of on the back porch, and his hands go to places they never went this afternoon. I pull a pillow into my arms and pretend it’s him I’m holding. Then I sit straight up. What the hell am I thinking? This brilliant idea to cut off all the guys in school includes him. No more kissing. No more walks home. Definitely no invitation to Winter Formal.

I feel like the biggest fool in town.


Mom said...

Good writing, Ali.
You sure seem to have your finger on the pulse of teenagers. ( I guess. I'm pretty far removed from that age group.)
Like the personal touches too.

Liz said...

Sounds great so far