GENRE: YA Paranormal
After entering the SA contest I revised the beginning of my novel. I've been trying to get the beginning right for YEARS, and it's driving me crazy.
This part of the forest is forbidden, but the smell of fresh cut trees lures me closer. I dart from behind a boulder and reach a large cluster of bushes several feet away. Chopped logs and branches litter the forest floor. Wagon tracks scar the earth. The wood gatherers might return soon. If I'm caught now I'll be searched and chased away.
If I'm caught after I steal, I'll lose my hand.
My heart beats a rapid warning. Run away, run away!
I know I should listen, but a small cut of wood calls to me from a pile of discarded twigs and branches. My practiced whittler's eye sees the figure of a rabbit begging to be released.
Stealing is wrong, I know. I used to buy wood from St. John's store in the village, but my mother has declared whittling to be a waste of time. She thinks it distracts me from Witch training.
The truth is, I don't want to be a Witch. Mother won't accept my decision, and has cut off my meager allowance until I "come to my senses." I'm not going to become a Witch just to get money again. I can't. It will cost me too much.
It's been almost a month since I whittled, and I miss my art.
Temptation's call is louder than common sense.
With my herb basket clutched to my chest, I move toward a large redwood. Something grabs my hair. I stifle a scream and reach behind me, feeling, praying I don't touch skin.
It's only a branch.
A hysterical laugh catches in my throat. I swallow it and untangle myself, leaving a few strands of my long auburn hair behind. My hands shake as I slip the hood of my red cloak over my head. I should have done it sooner.
I lift my skirt and step into the open. The crunching Autumn leaves seem to scream my presence. My heart flutters behind my ribcage. No one rushes out to stop me.
On tiptoes, I hurry to the pile and kneel. Instinct urges me to flee. I snatch the wood and dodge back behind the tree. Guilt nags at me to drop my prize--a block of cedar.
This piece was on the discarded pile, but something tells me it wasn't meant to be there. Zev, the woodcutter, owns rights to every tree on the island. Though twigs and branches are fair game, he demands punishment for taking anything else. I've witnessed Zev's cruelty and don't want to lose my hand.
Drop the wood and leave. Now, my conscience warns.
My fingers curl tighter around my prize as if they have a mind of their own. I want this wood; I need it.