Name: Daniel Alemán
Genre: YA Contemporary
Title: The Love You Take
Word Count: 81,000
Themes: LGBT (#ownvoices)
Your 35-Word Pitch:
When a hate crime ends in a tragic death, Chris must prove he and his boyfriend were not to blame for what happened.
First 500 words:
By the time I’m given a voice to tell my story, it’s already too late.
A red light blinks on the tape recorder, but the room is filled with nothing but silence. In the back of my mind, I can’t help but think of how ironic it is that now that someone is willing to listen, I can’t speak. Even though I’ve finally been given the voice I fought so badly to obtain, I can’t use it. Even though it’s all right there — all the fear, all the pain, so close to the surface that it’s clogging up my airway — I can’t let it out.
“Maybe we could do this another time,” the author says, shifting in her seat. She reaches for the tape recorder, but I gesture her to stop.
She lifts her eyebrows, staring at me through her glasses without blinking. I look up at her hair, which was the first thing I noticed when she arrived. It’s shoulder length, dry as straw. The half that is closer to her head is light gray. The bottom half is blond. I wonder when and why she made the decision to stop dyeing it. Maybe she woke up one morning and decided to stop pretending to be someone she’s not. Maybe she chose to welcome the gray hair like an old friend she hadn’t seen in a while. After all, I don’t think anyone could deny that gray hair is a privilege — a sign that you have lived.
I meet her eyes and find kindness in them, which reminds me of the reason why I agreed to this in the first place. It wasn’t because of her fancy journalism degree or because she’s a bestselling author. What helped me make up my mind in the end was that she had kind eyes, even in the pictures of her I found on the Internet.
“Why don’t we start with something a bit more simple?” she says. “Could you tell me a little about the town where you grew up?”
When I don’t answer, she leans forward in her chair. “Chris,” she says, “I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you to revisit the past. But I know you have a story that deserves to be told.” Even though her voice is soft, there’s a hint of desperation hidden somewhere. I can’t blame her for it — not when she traveled hundreds of miles only to come sit in front of a mute man. “If you tell me your story, I can help you share it with the rest of the world.”
I take a deep breath that makes me feel as though I’ve taken all the air from the room. “All right,” I say finally. I don’t really know where the words are coming from, but it doesn’t really matter. I just let them escape my mouth without thinking. “I’ll tell you my story.”
I was sixteen years old the fall that my parents finally decided to buy a microwave.
“My own mother never had a microwave in her kitchen, and she managed just fine,” Mom would say.