Monday, October 15, 2012

6 1st 5 Pages October Workshop - Marshall Rev 1

Name: Laura J. Marshall
Genre: Young Adult
Title: All the Angels Stood


CHAPTER ONE



Monday


She was giving up. At 8:15 next Monday evening, on her birthday, life would cease to exist for Stacey Rose Schofield. The pain would be gone. There would be silence and peace. Struggling up from her bed to see the time, she felt comforted that it would soon be over. She had a few minutes to lie there before the mad rush to school, so she rolled on her side and pulled the heavy blankets over her head with just enough cool air circulating through a tunneled hole near her mouth.


Closing her eyes, she thought back to the past Saturday.


Rachel was supposed to come over and Stacey had gotten a movie and some popcorn and soda. Her father had vacated the premises, heading to dinner with his new girlfriend, Ellen. The phone rang early in the evening as Stacey waited.


“Um, hi Stacey.”


“Rachel, I’m waiting for you. Everything’s set up. I even got your favorite drink, Mountain Dew.”


Stacey stretched out on the couch with the phone up to her ear. She grabbed the remote and lowered the volume.


“I can’t come. I’m not feeling well and my mom said I have to stay home.”


Stacey sat up and glanced at the 5 bottles of nail polish on the coffee table.


“Are you sure? I mean, you can rest here. We can just hang out.”


“Sorry. I can’t. Maybe another time.”


The alarmed screamed pulling her back to the present. She wanted to scream back and stomp her feet. Her rising temper surprised her. Why did she care? It would only be 7 days now.


Stacey put her feet on the cold floor. Glancing in the mirror over her bureau, her eyes took in the outside exterior of her hollow self. Long hair fell over dark eyes. Didn’t anyone notice the old Stacey was slowly being replaced with this hopeless person she didn’t recognize or like at all.


She chose her clothes haphazardly from a pile on the floor, dirty mixed with clean, her mother’s chastening grimace coming to her mind. She didn’t want to think of her mother now. Shaking her head, she made her way downstairs. The house was silent. Her father had left for work already. Mr. Coffee said good morning as she chose a banana off the counter and stuck it in her backpack.


Studiously trying to keep her mind empty, she headed into the bathroom off the kitchen to brush her hair. A small ant caught her eye in the sink basin. She watched it slip and struggle up the wet porcelain. With pause, Stacey put her finger out and squished the tiny black body. It clung to her finger, six little legs flat and now lifeless. She wiped her hand across her jeans and rushed out the door to make the bus.


Claire was waiting for her in the same seat they usually sat in together. She was a year younger, a sophomore, and always full of energy, so much so that her petite frame seemed unable to contain it all. Her bright blonde hair bounced with life and her tiny white teeth flashed at Stacey.


“Hey, coffeecake! How are ya’?”


Claire greeted Stacey each day with whatever breakfast food she had eaten that morning. Sometimes Stacey found it amusing, the names could be quite interesting. Today, she just felt angry. Angry over Claire’s silly names and over no breakfast and a silent empty house. Stacey knew Claire had a large family with three rowdy older brothers and a mother who doted on them.


Stacey slumped low in the seat, gave Claire an absent-minded hello and began busily picking at her already chipped nail polish. She wondered now at her choice of colors, a dark sparkly blue. She had been determined to feel better, about herself and about life lately. Stacey had sat alone Saturday night, painting her nails and trying not to care, the loneliness creeping back in.


Her father tried but he was a guy. He didn’t get teenage girls or their need to talk. He wanted to fix everything and if he couldn’t fix it then Stacey knew he didn’t really want to hear about it. He had buried his pain beneath his work and now he had Ellen in his life.


School was the same. Same chatter, same daily gossip, the same bullies and the same prey. She didn’t want to feel the shame for them anymore or the disgust at the offender. Did they think it made them appear stronger or more popular to put someone else down? The tread of their shoes cleared a path ahead as they walked and left a path behind, footprints that left hearts decimated and clinging to strands of self-contempt and despair. She saw it in their eyes as she turned her head away. She felt scarred just being a witness. Her load was heavy as she trudged the halls, with books, shoes, the images in her head and her weary heart.


She didn’t see Bobby in the hall that day. Her eyes darted between classes up and down the hallways. The old places they used to meet were occupied by other couples passing notes and holding hands. She put her mask on, the smile, the wave to people she had known for years. Busy, busy, busy. No one really cared about anyone but themselves. She knew the score. The first week of the breakup had been the worst of it. Everyone wanted to talk, talk, talk about it and offer solace. Now it was old news. Bobby had a new girlfriend and she stood, stricken still in that moment, the moment of his text. Not even enough guts to tell her to her face after over a year of professed love.


She rode home the same way she went to school, slumped down, head back, nail polish almost all chipped away.


“I wonder if it will help make the coroner’s job easier.”


~~~~~


She glanced back and returned to the kitchen, keeping an ear on her father’s low voice as he talked on the phone to Ellen. She filled her sports bottle half way up with wine from the refrigerator quietly replacing the cork.


As she filled the garden tub in her bathroom, she sipped slowly trying not to pucker. She looked at the walls of the tub and thought about the ant from that morning, struggling to get higher and slipping. Wasn’t it better to just cease? To stop? Darkness. Was there just darkness next? Her father believed in heaven and hell. She believed, well…she didn’t know what she believed. Lately, it was the old adage ringing in her head, “Life sucks then you die.”



Stacey lay back with the wine in hand, the water running loudly. She didn’t like to be in the tub without the water running. She liked the noise concealing her thoughts and making her feel safe, like no one would enter or intrude.


The wine made her head numb-er. Was numb-er a word? She smiled a small smile. No. But that was okay. She was numb-er and as she sipped, even numb-er.


She pulled the plug, turned the water off, and hopped out. Quickly she rinsed the bottle out several times, the last with a bit of Listerine, climbed into her pajamas, hit the alarm button and floated off to sleep.


6 comments:

  1. Overall a much tighter piece. The scenes set up with her friends show us more and we start to care more about the mc.

    I like the added dialogue and in this read the pronouns were less noticeable.

    Well done, Laura

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  2. I think you need to put a bit more of Stacey earlier -- what I mean is that in the beginning, I had no sense of who she was beyond her depression.

    "Rachel was supposed to come over and Stacey had gotten a movie and some popcorn and soda. Her father had vacated the premises, heading to dinner with his new girlfriend, Ellen. The phone rang early in the evening as Stacey waited."

    "Stacey stretched out on the couch with the phone up to her ear. She grabbed the remote and lowered the volume."

    "Stacey sat up and glanced at the 5 bottles of nail polish on the coffee table."

    Those are all actions, telling us what Stacey is doing, but not who Stacey is, and why her POV on these actions is unique. Stacey's thoughts on the bath and her school--those snippets, I would love to see more of.

    Great revision!

    -Helene

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice work, but I'm a little confused about the flashback. To add one so early I would think it would have to be vital and I don't really even get what it's about other than a friend being unable to come over. Did I miss something? It's quite possible with the baby! I'm still not seeing what's happened to get her to this point or is it just depression? And why on her birthday?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good revision. I like her voice, clearly she's depressed. I'm just not sure why she's so depressed. I'd love to understand more about why she feels this way and why she's decided to end it next week. Why wait and go through the motions pretending when she's clearly made up her mind?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Laura,

    This is much better! Overall, I like your mc and am starting to feel like she is rounding out at a person, but check for consistency and, especially in an opening, consider what she is thinking and feeling at each point. For example, when she squishes the spider, does she think she is putting it out of its misery? Or is she just doing it to be mean?

    You can really show us more in fewer words in places as well, for example:

    Claire greeted Stacey each day with whatever breakfast food she had eaten that morning. Sometimes Stacey found it amusing, the names could be quite interesting. Today, she just felt angry. Angry over Claire’s silly names and over no breakfast and a silent empty house. Stacey knew Claire had a large family with three rowdy older brothers and a mother who doted on them.

    Stacey slumped low in the seat, gave Claire an absent-minded hello and began busily picking at her already chipped nail polish. She wondered now at her choice of colors, a dark sparkly blue. She had been determined to feel better, about herself and about life lately. Stacey had sat alone Saturday night, painting her nails and trying not to care, the loneliness creeping back in.

    Could become:

    Claire greeted Stacey each day with whatever breakfast food she had eaten that morning. Stacey used to find it amusing, now it made her think of Claire having breakfast at home with three rowdy older brothers and a mother who doted her. She slumped down low in her seat and picked at the black nail polish on her thumb.

    Then give us some dialogue -- her saying Hey and Claire asking why she's grumpy already, or something.

    We would know the same thing that you just told us, but we'd be actively thinking and seeing it along with her.

    Does that make sense? You could apply the same techniques throughout, and I think we would be even more engaged in the story.

    Consider moving your dialogue from the flashback to this as well. Maybe have Claire tell her after this exchange that she can't come over tonight. Then we'd be wondering if it was because Stacey is no fun to be around anymore, but now we already have a clue about why she is no fun, so we see it spiraling. Maybe that would be the right place for the revelation about the suicide, too. Stacey tried not to care. Why should she care? It was all going to be over in ... That would let you give us only a hint in the opening paragraph too, i.e. Stacey woke before the alarm and tried to summon the energy to get out of bed. It was only Monday, seven more days of waking up, trying to keep herself motivated, trying to keep it together so no one would suspect. Or something like that -- you get the idea.

    Just some things to think about. Hope they help! :)

    Best,

    Martina
    Best,

    Martina

    ReplyDelete
  6. I really like this: The pain would be gone. There would be silence and peace. It shows what she wants.

    Also, if she's becoming less caring and reminds herself that it will be over soon--why is hanging out with Rachel so
    important to her?

    Glancing in the mirror over her bureau, her eyes took in the outside exterior of her hollow self. Long hair fell over dark eyes. Didn’t anyone notice the old Stacey was slowly being replaced with this hopeless person she didn’t recognize or like at all.

    The above is a little cliche, try to have her say something about her features without using a reflection from a mirror.

    Stacey knew Claire had a large family with three rowdy older brothers and a mother who doted on them.--is that something she wants? Or misses? Little clues like this can help us see some motivation behind her moods/goal.

    ReplyDelete

Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)