Candidate #4: The Summer I Met Mercy

This one isn’t new to the blog, but I want it considered, so I’m offering it again. This one’s YA (young adult), straight fantasy a la Neil Gaiman (if you like Neil Gaiman it’s JUST like him, otherwise NOTHING like Neil Gaiman (JAIMIE)) or, I don’t know, kind of magical realism-ish.

It’s also shorter than the others, so here’s more detail (skip if you don’t want intro spoilers). It’s set in modern-day Southern US (my backyard, to be precise, except not really my backyard), a first-person coming-of-age story with a dark (horror-ish) twist. All evidence to the contrary, this is not a vampire story. But you may figure out pretty quickly that Mercy is not exactly… normal, either. She wants something the MC has, and the MC wants something she has… and the trade may not be all it seems.

If this is your first visit to my blog, you’re probably confused. This should clear things up.

You can also review the first three candidates here:

Slave Chip

Relief: A Place to Back Up

The Red Girl

The Summer I Met Mercy

Nobody knew where she came from. I didn’t know where she came from. She was just there one day, down by the community lake, picking at the mud between her toes. Why she would do that when she was covered in mud from head to foot is anybody’s guess, and I didn’t ask. Just stood there gawking at her. Her hair was so caked it looked like it was made of mud, just long gobby strands of filth tangled with pond algae, and her arms were too long, her fingers too long, but the most notable thing about her was that she was naked.

She looked up at me and smiled, an ordinary, girl-next-door smile, and she was quite pretty, for a stringy 15-year-old, even if her teeth were rather large and white and pointy. Even if she was quite, quite naked. Not that I could see anything, not with her bent over her legs like that.

We became good friends, Mercy and I, that summer that my parents were separating, that my world was crumbling.

More than friends, actually. She was the first girl I ever kissed. She was clean the day I kissed her, and clothed. I never did see her naked again, in fact, not that day and not any day after. But I did kiss her. My first kiss.

It wasn’t quite what I expected. Weirder. Much weirder. She drew the tip of my tongue into her mouth with a sucking sensation, and then bit it, sucking continuously, her teeth scraping along every inch as my tongue went deeper. It hurt but not enough to make me want to stop. Not even as much as the throbbing in my groin hurt at that moment, and I didn’t want that to stop either.

5 thoughts on “Candidate #4: The Summer I Met Mercy

  1. This is pretty solid because the only things I want to say are pretty dang subjective things and things I can’t rightly say without reading more. I’m curious about how the naked part resolves itself.

  2. I like the mud-picking and how odd it is that she’s picking her toes if she’s already got mud other places. I think that’s where the voice starts to catch the reader.

    Found the sentences a bit overlong and awkward, but I don’t want to pick too much at style. I also wonder at the perspective–it seems like maybe the protagonist is telling us about this moment from the future (which would explain why your MC knows Mercy is 15 and the montage feel afterwards), but it also seems strangely IN the moment when you describe the mud.

    The touches of out-of-the-ordinary are nice here. I find it a little tell-y for an intro, but at the same time, if most of the stuff you’re telling us is not very important to the story overall, its appropriateness would depend on whether the rest of the story keeps us engaged. The hook could be stronger and tighter, I think, because a couple of your other candidates demonstrate that you can do it.

    • Thanks, Julie! The out-of-the-ordinary details do end up meaning something, though when I wrote the intro (in something of a trance, as I’ve said elsewhere), I didn’t know *what* they meant.

      Interesting point about floating back-and-forth between “in the moment” and “reminiscing.” I’ll give that more attention if I decide to go with this one.


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