So it may be a bit late for Teaser Tuesday, but I need your help. Bust out the red pens, throw on the reading glasses and prepare yourselves. I need a critique.
As I've said before, I've been anxiously scrambling to write and edit a passage that I can take with me to the young writers' camp I'm attending. I'm leaving on Friday and I still don't have anything.
Okay, actually I have almost a page about a girl named William. In theory, it's the opening to a story about a girl and a boy, each with names generally reserved for the other sex, who switch places over the summer. Yeah, haven't quite worked out the kinks, but here goes. Please be utterly merciless:
My parents picked the name William months before I was born. I think it’s about the only thing they’ve ever agreed on. Imagine their surprise when I finally showed up and the doctor announced, “It’s a girl.” It was one of those do or die moments that can determine the future or screw everything up. I can imagine my parents exchanging tense glances as if to say, what now?
They had two choices: embrace my future femininity or cling to the shreds of their tattered marriage. I, of course, was oblivious to all this drama as I was too busy screaming my head off—a skill I have since perfected for days like today.
“You want to send her where?” My dad has taken up his battle station on one side of the kitchen. He’s standing next to the phone, ready to call in reinforcements.
“She deserves a decent father figure!” Mom is the smarter of the pair, not because of her PhDs and countless awards, but because she’s standing next to the knife block.
Dad gasps like mom has just punched him in the stomach—and she might as well have. Even I think that’s a low blow. Finally he says, “She’s my daughter, too.”
“And a fine job you’ve done,” mom says "She clearly has self esteem issues—I never should’ve let you name her William.”
“I’m right here,” I say under my breath, knowing they won’t hear me. They’re in another universe now, where the only thing that matters is being right, and I’m invisible.
“You picked it out,” dad says. “You gave birth to her.”
“And it hurt like hell,” mom, never one to shy away from the gory details, says.
I’m sitting at the kitchen table right between them, and I feel like I’m about to explode. Of course I should’ve known that when they asked me to be a part of the discussion, a screaming match wasn’t far off. My parents have been divorced for eight years and sometimes I wonder if they could’ve made it work. But stick them in the same room for more than five minutes and this happens.
“The male reproductive organs determine the sex!” I scream, unable to hold it in any longer. I'm practically quoting from my science text book. Dad, a biology teacher, would be proud, if he wasn’t so busy looking at me like I’d just killed someone. I turn to mom who’s leaning against the counter, smiling victoriously, and add, “But you could’ve just named me Ashley.”
With that, I march past my dad, grab a jacket and walk out the door. I know it’s childish but I can’t help slamming it behind me. After a moment they start up again. I can hear muffled yells through the thick wood door, but neither comes after me. I can’t tell if I’m more relieved or disappointed—whatever it is, I cover it with a grin as I hear the keys to my dad’s beat up Volvo jingle in my pocket.
I cross the yard, careful to duck as I pass the kitchen window. I catch a glimpse of mom holding a ladle over her head before I turn away. She doesn’t cook much but she sure knows her way around a kitchen.
It takes three tries to start the car. Mom’s Mercedes is parked across the street, mocking me as the Volvo grudgingly sputters to life. My dad isn’t really big on car maintenance but for my mom, first impressions are important. And they’d better be good.
Ugh, she sounds bratty. She isn't supposed to be bratty! Anyways, let me know what you think. Spare no adverb or misused preposition.