NAME: Judy Mintz
MENTOR: Michelle Painchaud
WORD COUNT: 55,000
Emma’s façade of style and heterosexuality crumples when she hosts Maja, a gay Swedish girl who makes Emma confront her decision to stay closeted out of fear – and her crush on her best friend Kaitlyn.
I had just slammed my locker when Mrs. Galvin’s voice came over the loudspeaker. “Attention students. Report to the auditorium for an assembly. Now!” Really? The one day I was going to be early for Chem?
The halls were jammed, but at least we were all moving in the same direction. I fell in beside Cody. He cleaned his round, wire-frame glasses with the edge of his T-shirt as we walked.
“What’s today’s message?” I asked.
He squinted down at his chest and read, “Haikus are easy/But sometimes they don’t make sense/Refrigerator.”
Cody and I were in most of the same Junior Honors classes. He wore his nerdiness with pride. I covered mine up with makeup and designer knock-offs.
“Profound,” I said. “Not stylish, but profound.”
“We can’t all be smart and trendy at the same time.”
“Right,” Jon said, elbowing in between us. “Life’s too short. Like you.” He punched Cody affectionately on the arm. Jon stood well over six feet; next to Cody he was a giant. Next to everybody, really.
“Could you be a little less friendly?” Cody said, rubbing his arm.
Ignoring him, Jon said, “Hey, Emma, any luck talking your mom out of that Swedish girl’s visit?”
“I wish.” I grimaced.
“I don’t know why you’re not more excited. I think it’d be cool to learn about a different culture up close and personal.”
“Exactly. Up close and personal. I have to share my room with this girl. I won’t have any privacy. There’ll be nowhere to hide.”