The Withering Vine

THE WITHERING VINE was an Honorable Mention in the 2011 Tassy Walden Awards for New Voices in Children's Literature. Below is the first page--enjoy!

Cote-d'Or, France. The Fourteenth Century.
Chapter One

One of the disadvantages of being raised on the streets is that one's conscience develops with a sort of delay.
A normal girl of sixteen years, I suppose, would be warned by her healthy, homegrown conscience to stop and think before she falls into sin. I, on the other hand, don't merely fall, but plunge right into the depths with no alarm sounding at all.
'Tis not the sound of my conscience, but Colette's screams which cascade down from the little cottage on the hill behind me. Her cry of “Antoine, you fool!” echoes about the valley until the rows of vines and tilled soil absorb the sound. But this is usual. If the old woman were to stop yelling at her husband that would be a thing worth noticing.
The vines themselves only whisper at me, in a kind way, as the early morning wind passes through them on its way to the village. The vines are all kind to me, no matter what I do. Well, almost all.
There is one vine that must hate me now as much as I've hated it. It stares at me in this moment, shriveled and shrunken, from my disobedient hand. The twists of its dead tendrils form a mocking smile. The gap in the row yawns at me and the hole in the earth seems ready to suck me in to take the vine's place.
Oh, I should have known better. I've grown up hearing the saying that no sin goes unpunished—I get a sinking feeling, wondering what the consequences of this action will be. But it irked me so, the thought that this dead thing should have a home when I was about to lose mine. I didn't think. I never think.
Now, after I've already done the worst, of course, my conscience won't stop its worthless little tongue: “Genevieve, you fool, you know Antoine told you never to go near that vine!”
I shake some dirt from my hands and the crumbling roots. “But it makes no sense! Besides, maybe Antoine was merely in one of his moods,” I argue.
“Maybe he'll throw you out for sure now.”


  1. What a great way to begin a tale... and what great, intriguing ending words, leaving the taste of the next chapters on the tongue of the readers, without revealing exactly what flavor until we read more!

  2. ... I love it! :)