Mentor Name: Stefanie Wass
Mentee Name: Emily Ungar
Title: SCARLET RUNNER BEAN
Category: Middle grade
Word Count: 41,000
Twelve-year-old Scarlet knows a few things about obsessive-compulsive disorder. After all, her dad’s been living with it for years. But when Scarlet begins to obsess that the scarlet runner beans in her backyard are her magical ticket to outrunning everyone on the cross-country team, her world spins out of control.
All I have to do is tap.
That’s what my mind whispers as I sit on the porch and slip on my running shoes. The sun hasn’t risen, and the sky is still the color of a bruise. I lace my Nikes and reach over to tap the cool cement steps. Twice, then four times. If I tap just right, my family will be safe. I’ll nail the Beavercreek Middle School cross-country tryouts this afternoon. I won’t get hit by a car during my run.
All I have to do is tap, and the pact with the nervous whispers in my mind is sealed. Guaranteed safety in exchange for a few taps? It’s not a bad deal.
Four times doesn’t feel quite right, so I knock my knuckles against the steps six times. I don’t like odd numbers. Let’s face it—they’re odd. Even is smooth. Even is balanced. Even is in control.
My knuckles are dirty from tapping the porch, so I wipe them on my shorts as I stand up. My run will last exactly 46 minutes, leaving me enough time to scarf one of Dad’s cinnamon chip scones and wash my hair before the bus grunts around the corner.
“Scarlet!” Dad opens the screen door. “Don’t forget the key.” His eyes are glued on the deadbolt.
“You’ve got to be kidding.” I hold up my cell phone and show him the time. “It’s not even six o’clock. Don’t you think all the burglars are still asleep?”