Entry Nickname: Eye Above You
Title: TREE ROPER
Word Count: 26K
Genre: MG Contemporary
Born with one eye, twelve-year-old Jimmy Parker would rather climb trees with his rope and harness than hang around with people – after all, trees don’t tease. Jimmy’s prosthetic eye looks good, but due to the nature of his birth defect, it is smaller than his real eye and sits lower on his cheekbone, making for a lopsided face. Jimmy is determined to afford the surgery that he’s sure will fix his face – and change his life. With money scarce and cosmetic surgery expensive, Jimmy convinces his arborist father to let him help out in the tree business this summer.
When cheaper rent and his mom’s new job compel Jimmy’s family to move across town, he meets cute and candid Samantha Fulton while rescuing her grandma’s cat from a tree. Sam admires Jimmy’s climbing skills and welcomes him to the new neighborhood, even tagging along on a local tree job. But her own family drama ties her closer to Jimmy than he realizes. Then one afternoon, as Jimmy helps his father on a routine limb removal, a climbing line breaks, sending his father crashing onto a roof below. With his father recovering in the hospital, Jimmy and Sam conceive a plan they hope will save the tree business, and offer Jimmy and his family a chance at a new beginning.
First 250 words:
It was the third day of summer vacation, and I was hanging in a tree. Sweet! My first client of the summer stopped pacing as I glanced down at her tired face and messy nest of white hair.
“Please don’t walk right under me, Mrs. Murphy. It’s not safe.”
“Oh, of course. Are you okay up there? Maybe you should come back down and I’ll try again with the food.”
“I’m good. I’ve done this lots of times. Besides, I don’t think your cat’s that hungry yet.”
I was anxious to show her I could do this. Not just for the money she promised, which would add to my surgery stash, but because of the way she stared at me three days ago when my mom introduced us. Mom had noticed too, but went on about how moving to this side of town was going to make things so much easier for our family—mainly being able to walk to her job and the better school for me and Ethan. Most people didn’t even realize they stared. But I knew.
Mrs. Murphy couldn’t have known then that the right eye was a fake, though. Mom probably told her later.
As I hung from the rope above her yard, my arms throbbed and my stomach burned from the workout. I relaxed into the canvas and leather loops of Dad’s old climbing saddle. It fit me well enough that I could use it this summer to help out with the tree business.