‘The Wild Girls’ by Pat Murphy
Joan moves to a hew housing development on the outskirts of town with her unhappy nuclear family. Playing in the woods outside she meets Sarah, a girl her age who enjoys a more unconventional lifestyle that Joan finds liberating. Their relationship is somewhat strained when the holidays end and they have to go to school where Sarah is the Weird Kid. Joan finds herself straddling two worlds; tame on the outside, wild on the inside. It is actually rather conventional in its endorsement of unconventionality – particularly in its climax where the pair enter a short story competition – but it is charmingly done.
There is absolutely no reason to include a story like this in Witpunk though. Usually with a story like this a genre writer will sneak in one ambiguous scene and try and pass it off as slipstream. Murphy gestures in this direction but doesn’t follow through. She makes no similar figleaf gesture towards humour here so the editors must have just bought it on the grounds they needed anything they could lay their hands on.
Murphy appears to have recently transformed the story into a novel for children which is a much better fit.