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Clay Birds (they're back... the resubmission)

Clay Birds

Jeremy Newman

Resubmission from a completed novel

Meet Your Other Half


Chapter One


I opened Gemima's page and dove in.


Before deciding whether to write on it, I scrolled down past her studio session photos, magazine sets and runway shows as if they were depths. When I came back up, a photo near the top of the page got my attention for being kind of sunny and nice. In it, the short-haired silver-blonde girl modeled a 'destroyed' white vest top, the gashes in the material repaired with multi-colored coarse stitching. She smiled, and leaned back against a vivid red brick wall, somewhere in England.


The comment I put under the picture was totally not something-of-the-moment. After what felt like half an hour of composing, reordering, deleting, and re-doing, I reckoned my line hit the spot. And this being a public space, it would show the world how much I admired her. Hugh Bryant Allow me this. To forget you. I didn't even have an interest in fashion. Not at first, anyway. And the ages weren't right either, me thirteen, she a tall ten. No, I started following Gemima Fecko because of an obvious connection: our looks. And what was the whole world of models, celebrities, influencers, TV, media, screens and phones, if not about looks? Her reply, minutes later, set off a kind of heat bomb in my stomach. This was impossible. At no special hour, on no particular day, 'Gems' was there, real-time, for me. Gemima Sure you will, Hugh. My fingers froze (maybe the heat bomb didn't make it past my elbows). She continued. Gemima While you remember me, enjoy the show (laughing face)! Follow the link at the top to my featured Autumn/Winterwear collection. Click on 'boys'. *


****


Before Gems became famous and got millions of followers, and before anyone knew her name, I saw her, or someone who looked just like her, in Bangkok. Without anything else to do until my family appeared for breakfast, I propped myself on one elbow and watched the girl tiptoe along the edge of the hotel pool. She sidled behind the waterfall feature as if it were a shower curtain. Her outline, lit by the morning sun, kind of cavorted in a coral one-piece. Now and then she punctured the sheet of water with a hand, or a foot, carving huge messy cuts in the flow; they healed in an instant each time she withdrew. I stayed put, because the idea of meeting someone who looked so much like me, spooked me. "Fancying a dip before breakfast, Hugh?"


My aunt's voice from behind the lounger was no surprise (I saw her shadow), so I acted all casual.


"Aah. Hi Pam. I, um, haven't brought my swimming gear." Auntie Pamela would tell me if I had a three-years' younger long-lost twin, even if my own mother kept it a secret. Pam (as I called her) knew everything about our family, and never made things up. "Your parents are staying in their rooms." One of those rooms was my room, too. I rolled and squinted up at my aunt's silhouette, tall and dark-haired against the sun glare.


"Oh. They're not speaking?"


"They're speaking through me, on the phone."


"But they're meant to be conferring." I said this because Pam called my parent's foreign meetups 'The Annual Conference'.


She laughed. "Then I'm the interpreter. Good job I came eh?"


I smiled. "I'm glad." "


Anyway Hugh, they've agreed you can come on my side trip to the island." At this revelation (I looked the word up later) all my thoughts of short-haired girls vanished. The girl vanished tooI took a deep breath, and gave her the lowdown.


REVIEWS

TSW Sharman

Hi Jeremy, and welcome back. The last version presented some concerns, and this is a very significant improvement. However some issues remain. But first, there were some pieces I liked, and I want to call those out.


The dove/depths was good, but I’d like it if the words were closer connected (depths didn’t read right until I realized what you were doing). I like the paragraph ‘The comment I put under the picture…” and the paragraph ‘Without anything else to do until my family appeared for breakfast…’


The interaction with Pam is much improved, and the attraction is more nuanced to keep the reader guessing! And I like the voice and cheek you’ve given Gem.


Where I’m struggling, just me personally, is still with the ages. In the first section we have ‘And the ages weren't right either, me thirteen, she a tall ten.” Huh? Please tell me I got confused… And then I’m struggling with technology per the first part of the submission. It reads a little like he’s on a Facebook page, or probably a web site if the collection is posted on it. And you can post on it, and she’s active on it? Not sure how it all works, but I don’t think either Facebook, most other social media, or a website works that way.


Are you thinking Twitter? In any case, a successful influencer likely wouldn’t even be looking at the many, many posts. Overall, I’m also a little unsure whether the “digital” opening is sufficiently grabby – I’m not saying it isn’t, I like parts of it, it just feels like there might be more punch there. It is the opening, and (in media res) the start of the true drama – it needs to be enough to make me want to get through all of the background before we get to that point. And then the transition to their younger selves rather takes me out of it.


I’m interested in what the others say, I’m not against it, I’m just not yet loving it (and then there’s the tech issue).


Jeanette

What a complete transformation from the original submission. I appreciate this one starting with a current situation and then leading to the back story. I felt more sure this story is going to be about a boy and a girl and not a random family trip. I look forward to seeing how you pull this all together and bring life to this "connection."

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