MENTOR: Dahlia Adler
TITLE: ONE TWO THREE
GENRE: YA contemporary romance
WORD COUNT: 70,000
35 WORD PITCH: Falling in love scares the crap out of seventeen-year-old former ballerina Natalya, but sexy soccer player Antonio may be the only one who can help her deal with her Papa's suicide and Mama's vodka addiction.
Chopin´s music is the soundtrack of my life. Papa taught me how to play his most heart-wrenching Waltzes, Mama used his Nocturnes as lullaby when I was little, and my legs itched to form an arabesque whenever I heard his Polonaises Op. 40. Chopin used to be my escape, a way to dream about the future, about everything I wanted—from finally falling in love to dancing the main part of Cinderella one day at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.
But that was before.
As Mama drives me to school, the notes from his Prelude Opus 28—also called “Suffocation”—don´t bring a smile to my face. They oppress me. No matter how deep I try to inhale, I don´t get enough air into my lungs.
Mama turns the music down and exhales loudly. “We can´t go through the same thing every single morning, Natalya.” Her don’t-mess-with-me tone doesn’t scare me. What is she going to do? Ignore me even more? I’ve learned how to keep everyone at least a rond de jambe away partly thanks to her, aka The Master of Not Letting Anyone Close. Not even her daughter.
“Are you listening to me?” Mama snaps. The morning sun sends shimmers through her blond hair but no amount of concealers could hide her bags. I’m not sure she’s slept a full night since we heard the news about Papa.
Eight months, three weeks, and two days ago.
“I don’t want to see you practice again.” She sounds tired.