Our first submission for First Impressions this month comes to us from Angelo Michaels. CURSE CURSE is an upper MG Magical Realism novel.
I knew the imposter wasn’t my sister. Genuine or not, her appearance, her mere presence suggested that my sister might’ve still been alive. There was no explanation in the discovery, no means to an end. My sister was still missing even though the doppelganger was recovered.
There were small tells, like Siena pulling on the wrong side of her razor straight black hair or tapping her left foot, instead of right, when annoyed. I could see right through her because she didn’t have her defensive shield in place—her innate, inanimate ability to control her environment with her commanding personality. Always the boss since she followed me out of our mother twenty-two minutes after I arrived in the world.
Siena was always playing catch up. Picking up on skills like walking, talking and writing, slightly before me—pushing her way to the front, barreling me over in the process. It was easy for her because I was the timid, shy introvert. She spoke for both of us, made the decisions and I just followed along.
Surviving in her wake, but never thriving in her shadow.
Even now, entering adulthood at 18, the sea of time between then and now seems to have been absorbed like a sponge. Those critical years of discovery, both of body and principle, meld together until they become one journey, one thought.
All these years later the pain of losing Siena is still as fresh, the fear still as raw as the night she went missing.
The night of our 13th birthday I was scared, petrified at the thought of never seeing Siena again. Dragging around my half self for the rest of my days, the other half vanished, stolen in the night. If she was dead than I didn’t want to live. The world would cease to exist without her in it, but the globe continued to spin in the void so she must’ve been alive, somewhere out there.
I thought my mother, Genieve Grace, being a psychic, would’ve sensed Siena had been replaced when she returned. Astrologist is her professional title. Genieve gives Reading, lays tarot cards and plots star charts. Her ability stems from a heightened intuition bordering on premonition. She calls it the Wave because it rolls over her, compressing her thoughts until one trumps the others.
That’s why when Siena went missing I thought Genieve would’ve been more helpful. More insightful in locating her and more cognizant, upon Siena’s return, that she wasn’t my sister.
I knew it, and not just because she was my twin, but because we’re Witches.
This is a great start. I love some of the details, like how Sienna is the leader, even though she's younger, and why the mother should have sensed the switch, but didn't. There are a few things, however, that I feel will tighten the beginning and bring forward the most important parts.
Since this is MG, you might want to cut the part about being 18. Telling a story from that far in the future can bring the story into young adult or even adult territory. The story happens when they're 13. Keep it there.
I would cut or reword the line about Siena always playing catch up. It's more like the narrator is playing catch up, even though she's older.
The opening line feels strange to me, and I'm trying to pinpoint why. I think it's because Siena is actually the main focus of the chapter, so I feel like Siena should be the main focus of the opening line. More like, "My sister was replaced by an imposter," although I'm sure you can come up with something better than that.
Thank you so much for sharing your chapter with us! I love the idea, and I think you have a good grasp of how to show interesting details.
Make sure to check out Angelo's website at WWW.AM-AUTHOR.COM. And head over to both Mainewords and Dianne's blog to see what they thought of CURSE CURSE.