Fifteen-year-old Prayer Perrault lives in a bubble where YouTube videos are her teachers and secondhand books are her friends. Her only human interaction comes from her agoraphobic mom, whose fears bar Prayer from leaving the house except to take out the garbage or check the mail.

But when termites chew their way into Prayer’s bedroom, they also expose it to Abel Page, a high school volleyball star who is serving time with his exterminator uncle because of his reckless drinking and flubbing GPA.

Desperate for some respite from her controlling, misanthropic mom, Prayer strikes a bargain with Abel: good grades for him, late-night joyrides for her. When these covert Lyfts develop into starlight trysts, however, Prayer risks love, freedom and her mom’s mental health if exposed.

INDOOR GIRL is a YA contemporary Rapunzel retelling, complete at 81,000 words. This #ownvoices manuscript pays homage to the Filipina-American heritage I share with the protagonist, Prayer, and was selected for the 2019 WriteMentor program.

I received my BA in literature/writing from UCSD and am a certified ambivert who lives with my hubby, our quartet of kids, and perpetual piles of laundry.

With warmest thanks,

Krystle Brantzeg

 

The way Mom was looking through the peephole put the Eye of Sauron to shame. Even the Cyclops from The Odysseywould’ve stabbed his own primordial pupil. Nothing erupted Mom’s ocular ire more than visitors.

She stepped back from the door and snapped her fingers at me. “Check if their truck has a business logo on it.”

I nodded and, avoiding the conspicuous living room window, went into my bedroom that faced the front yard and lifted a slat on the blinds. Cartoony decals spelled out Bob’s Bug Begone on the red truck’s passenger door. That matched the company I had phoned last week. If they were criminals, they’d never drive a vehicle witnesses could identify from a helicopter.

When I stepped out of my bedroom, Mom was in the hallway gripping a metal baseball bat. “It’s the termite guys,” I said.

“Did they see you spying on them?” she asked. “If they saw you spying on them, then they might do a bad job or install hidden cameras in our walls to spy on us. They could be peeping Toms.”

I shook my head, schooling my face to remain stoic to Mom’s Theory of Pervertivity.

She slunk back to the front door and returned the bat to the adjacent coat closet. I followed behind her, still shaking my head.

The doorbell rang again, causing Mom to jump and clasp her chest as if an invisible bullet had barreled through her heart. I squeezed in between her and the door, which I creaked open.

“Hello…Ms. Perrault?” the man said.

I shook my crown of long black hair and stepped aside for Mom, who was as short as I was but slightly stouter. She also had darker skin, a milk chocolate brown, whereas mine was plain milk except for the beige freckles dappling my cheeks.

“Ms. Perrault?” the man asked again. Mom eyed his polo, which was red and had BBB stitched at the chest. He was sunburned on his nose and cheeks, anywhere untouched by his sunglasses that were sitting on his flattop of blondish gray hair. He was muscular and chesty, which might bode well on dating sites, but was a swipe left for Mom. With exception to my dad, she stink-eyed any man she couldn’t overpower if he were to assail her five-foot frame. I, however, could possibly thwart an attack since Mom had incorporated self-defense videos as part of my homeschool curriculum this year.

            “Bob Page,” Mom said, as if she had convicted him of something.

“Yes. You called us about termites.”

A boy stood behind the hulking man. He also wore a red polo, but it was a couple sizes too wide for him. Not that he was scrawny. His arms were toned and tanned, so his torso must’ve been…err, complementary. But anyone in baggy clothes was a red flag for Mom, falling somewhere between gangbanger and transient.

When Mom glared at the reprobate, Bob said, “This is my nephew, Abel. He’s job shadowing me.”