I skip down the stairs from our roof garden, pausing outside the front gate to fish my keys out of my pocket. The stairwell is sultry and smells like wet socks. I unlock the gate and go inside. Mom and my older brother Gavin are at the dining room table.There's a gate that opens from the outside directly into the dining room? What kind of house is this?
I notice right away that Gavin's eating strawberry shortcake. They stop talking when I come in and just sit there staring at me.'Stalk' drew me up short; it feels out of place. It also doesn't ring true to me-- a girl who slams, skips, thumps, and kicks off her shoes, seems like she has too much energy to achieve a stalking movement.
"What?" I say, slamming the gate shut.
"Where were you?" Mom asks.
"Upstairs on the roof."
"In this weather?"
"It's stopped raining, Mom. A long time ago." I kick off my flip-flops under the piano bench and stalk over to the table. I'm wondering why Gavin gets strawberry shortcake. Mom didn't say anything to me about strawberry shortcake when we finished dinner.
"Marcy." Mom's voice sounds tired. She rubs her temples with her index fingers.This digression is hampering the pace of the scene. Put it in elsewhere.
"What?" I thump down into the seat next to Mom. This is getting irritating. I feel like I'm missing something. Then I notice Mom's nose is red like she's been crying.
"Mom got bad news," Gavin says with his mouth full of strawberry shortcake. "Well, we all got bad news."
"Grandma Duncan had a stroke," she says, blowing her nose into a crumpled tissue.
I gasp. "When?"
"A few hours ago. Uncle Dick called. He seems to think I ought to come home, at least for a few weeks. The doctors … don't know how long she has left."
Gavin holds her hand as he takes another bite of shortcake. Mom settles a grateful look on him. He always knows the right thing to do. Not like me.
"We're going back to America?" I say. "How long can we stay? The whole summer?"
My glasses have fogged up in all the excitement. I take them off and scrub them on the hem of my shirt.
"Well, I'm sure your dad can't go," Mom says.
"Oh, come on, Beaker," Gavin says. I hate it that he still calls me Beaker after all these years. I haven't looked like a Beaker since at least third grade when my hair finally grew out. I mean, it's still red, and my eyes do look sort of buggy in my glasses. But besides that, I look nothing like a Beaker.
Gavin goes on, "You know Dad has to make a good impression at work or else he'll lose his job." Sometimes Gavin treats me as if I'm still in second grade. Of course I know how important this job is to Dad. It's the reason we moved six thousand miles away from home to Hong Kong. Though I don't know why we bothered. We might as well have stayed in Everett for all we see of him these days.I would cut "gavin goes on" as a tad stilted, but overall this first page shows promise. Good voice, good dialogue. A couple missteps, but editable. I'd keep reading.