MENTOR: Lindsey Sprague

MENTEE: Paula Garner



WORD COUNT: 89,000



Sixteen-year-old Otis copes with grief by swimming, training to fulfill the lost Olympic dream of his tyrannical one-armed friend/self-appointed coach, Dara, but her hold on him is threatened when the only girl he’s ever loved moves back to town, forcing Otis to face the tragedy that drove them apart.



When I finally heard from Meg, it was May, historically her month of choice for upending my universe.  It was the ungodly hour of swim o’clock—I had one eye half-open and my synapses were barely firing.  And with Dara due at any moment to lasso me for another morning of abuse in the pool, there was no time to process Meg’s message.

I stepped out the front door into the purple mist of almost-dawn, puffs of my breath just visible in the first hint of daylight.  I tossed my bag down and sat under the magnolia to wait for Dara, faking my way through a same-shit-different-day program.

Only it wasn’t the same shit.  This was the first time I’d heard from Meg since we said goodbye in her empty bedroom next door, her parents waiting outside with the moving truck.  I clung to her in that dusty room as if the last thing that mattered to me in all the world was being taken away.  Which, after the clusterfuck of the preceding year, it basically was.  And there wasn’t enough thirteen-year-old swagger in the known universe to keep me from bawling.

Minutes later, they pulled away, Meg gazing out the window at me through teary eyes.  She might as well have driven right off the face of the earth, because I never heard from her again.  Until today, that is.  A mere three years and two months later.  Not that anyone’s counting.

Moving on has never been my strong suit.

7 comments to PW-16 (YA): PHANTOM LIMBS

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