Another day, another contest, and The Writer’s Voice is a dandy hosted by four coaches, sixteen agents, and covers three weeks. I was randomly drawn to enter my story, The Birthday Jinx, so here is the query and the first 250.
Hop Greenwood is terrified of his birthday. Before Hop can blow out the candles on his special day, he winds up in the emergency room recovering from another bizarre mishap. It’s hard to be happy when you’re tumbling down the staircase in an electric car (third birthday). Or worse yet, flattened by a flying mattress (eighth birthday). In recent years the accidents have become more life threatening, and Hop has had enough. He’s going to bust this jinx or whatever it is before a 12th birthday becomes his last.
After a few minutes of online research Hop concludes jinxes only go after good people. Act like a juvie and the jinx will run. He quickly discovers a life of crime is harder than it looks. Next, Hop uncovers a real study about eliminating jinxes. Knock on wood. Do several good deeds, become a hero, and make a connection. While he pursues this new plan, there are other concerns. Hop’s parents seem on the verge of a divorce and his best friend is changing from a tomboy into a girl. Add to that the strangeness of middle school starting soon. Geez, isn’t being jinxed enough?
With the clock ticking down to a twelfth disaster, Hop turns to an optimistic 98-year-old man who built the Hoover Dam and a classic book for help. But will it be enough to keep Hop out of the E.R. and his family intact? He’ll have to grow up quick because this birthday is set to unwrap some surprising answers.
THE FIRST 250
Some days are luckier than others. I just bought these really cool multicolored birthday candles from the garage sale next door. Only cost me a quarter. Two-dozen red and white spiral sticks. I like crumbling the wax between my fingers. I’d light them, but Mom would go ballistic. She banned me from using anything that burns right after my fifth birthday when up in flames.
A closer look at the candle box makes me giggle. It’s the Happy Birthday lyrics in red letters. Hilarious. They even left a blank for the name of the person you’re singing to. Like they really think there’s someone who doesn’t know that stupid song? Four lines and three of them are the same. I mean – its ancient. Cave men probably grunted the tune before making a wish.
Yeah, wishes are good. I’m going to make one. I’d wait, but I may not be around to celebrate the day I turn twelve. Here goes: My wish is to actually have a happy birthday. You see, every year awful things happen to me before I get the chance. It’s why I plug my ears whenever that unhappy song starts. I don’t need the reminder. My birthday’s a nightmare. Every year.
Pick any other day and I have few worries – a measly allowance, smelly shoes, and anytime Grandma’s sick – the normal stuff. It’s a different story on August 10th. I get bloodied, bruised, or broken, and usually all three. Why me? I never asked for this gift.