Monday, April 23, 2012

5 1st 5 Pages April Workshop - James, Rev 2

Author: Robert James
Genre: YA Contemporary
Title: Choices (Formerly Losing Robbie)


I stare at them both, the blade and the phone, trying to decide which to choose.

Two years ago, the choice would have been easy. Although two years ago, it wouldn't have been a choice I'd even have considered having to make.

Back then, I was a baby. I was in primary school, I had lots of friends, and I thought that my stepsister could solve any problem ever. I really want to give her one more chance to solve this one.

I take a deep breath, and pick up the phone. I put my hand on the right key to speed-dial her... Then change my mind. I put the phone down, pick up the blade carefully - wouldn't want to cut my fingers, too many awkward questions people could ask - and lift it to my shoulder.

Then I chicken out and put that down.

Back to the phone. Just as I'm about to call her, I think about what Joanna said and lose my nerve. I throw the phone onto my bed, and pick up the blade once more.

I can't focus properly on either of them, so I keep this going for the next five minutes or so. Blade, phone, blade, phone. The repetition has a calming effect on me and I nearly walk away from them both. I know that's not the answer, though.

Taking a deep breath, I pick up the phone one more time and finally press the button to call Rachel. She answers, and my words flood out.

"Rachel? It's Lauren. I really need to talk to someone. I think... I mean, I need... Can you come home? Please?"

I gasp the words out, nearly in tears as I finally ask her. I want to confront her face to face. For her to tell me it's not true.

But at the other end there's silence. Nothing. And then she laughs.

"Hey sweetie! Sorry, didn't hear a word of that. Robbie grabbed my phone!"

I hear the two of them messing about and it's clear she has much better things to do than come and talk to me about stuff that happened years ago. There's a bunch of giggles before she carries on speaking.

"Was it important, babes, or just phoning for a chat?" she questions me.

For only the third time in the eight years I've known her, I lie to her.

"Just a chat," I try to keep my voice light. "I'll let you get back to Robbie. Have fun!"

I think she thanks me, but I can barely hear her. Bursting into tears, I slam my head into the pillow. After sobbing for a few minutes, I get up and pick up the razor blade.

I place it against my shoulder and smile to myself. I look in the mirror and see the silver touch my pale skin. This time, there's no hesitation. This time, I push it in and draw it down, ever so slowly, wincing as I form a thin red line to go with the three pink scars already there. I smile to myself as the pain which is becoming increasingly familiar takes over my thoughts. For a few moments, I know that I'll forget about being Bingirl, Princess Pizza Face, or any of the other names people call me. The pain will be all I can focus on, and I will be happier than I've been all day.

Looking at my phone, and at the blade, which is now silver and red thanks to my blood, I don't know why it was such a difficult choice.

I love my stepsisters – I really do. And Lauren is my favourite. She's sweet, she's clever, and she looks at me as if I'm a goddess – she definitely has good taste in role models! She's just becoming so, so clingy. This is the third time she's phoned me over the past couple of weeks when I was out, and every time she just wants a chat. Still, I'll make sure I make some time for her over the weekend, just in case it's something important.

Robbie reaches over and grabs my phone again as soon as I've hung up. He turns it off, smiling at me as he does so, and slides it into the pocket of his jeans.

“Let's forget everyone else, princess. Tonight's about you and me.”

It's a terrible line, but it makes me laugh. As he says it, however, I hear someone call my name. Turning, I see my mum's friend Gary walking across to greet me.

“Congratulations, Rachel. I hear that you got an offer from Oxford.”

I still feel like I need to pinch myself every time someone mentions this. For three years, a place at Oxford has been nearly all I could dream about. Getting the letter a few weeks ago with an offer – as long as I achieve the grades I'm fully expecting to get in my A levels - was the happiest moment of my life.

Smiling, I tell him how pleased I am, and we talk for a couple of minutes until he goes to join his friends. Robbie glares after him and I nearly burst out laughing. “Robbie, he's a mate of my mum's. He's older than she is, at least 35. Nothing for you to worry about!

He still looks unhappy, though, and I glance out of the window, hoping to avoid an argument. We normally sit somewhere at the back of the pub – my 6'3 height generally obscures the fact that I'm technically a few months away from legal drinking age, but better safe than sorry – but today the place is packed and we grabbed the only table I can find. As I look out, I see a red-haired girl who looks a few years younger than me walking past. For a moment, I think I recognise her face.

“You alright, cariad?” Robbie asks me. He takes my hand, and I manage to pull myself together. Of course the girl isn't who I thought she was. Lydia has been dead three years.

“I'm fine,” I say to him, although I feel sure he can hear my heart beating loudly enough to know this isn't true. For an awful moment, I thought she'd somehow come back from the dead. I had visions of her walking in and telling everyone what had happened.

Once, this happened to me all of the time. The summer after she died, I practically stayed at home for six weeks because I convinced myself I'd seen her whenever a redhead passed me in the street. None of those looked anywhere near as similar to Lydia as this girl did, and that resemblance absolutely terrifies me. Because if there was a way that Lydia could tell everyone how we caused her death, I know that there's no possible chance that Oxford would want me.


  1. I see some real conflict now and I like it enough to keep reading. Someone is dead and your MC had something to do with it! Yes!

    You are keeping their voices distinct-good job.

    I am wondering a bit about your 2nd and 3rd sentences. The choice would have been easy? But she wouldn't have had to make the choice? I think I know what you mean, but could you say it more clearly? Maybe something like...Two years ago I wouldn't even have thought about this choice. Things were different then-like Lydia wasn't dead.

    Maybe that's not what she's thinking, but you get what I mean.

    Great revision! You've come a long way from your first try!

  2. This is great. I love the beginning! The tension of her decision is an inticing hook. The relationship between the sisters and how they react to each other sets up an even greater conflic down the road.

    The revelation Rachel's crime creates an exciting twist to the story.

    Loving this revision! Looking foward to next week!

  3. Hi Robert,

    There's definitely a lot of tension this time around, and that is great. You've built the characters very distinctly too. But it isn't quite ringing true to me yet. The cutting especially. Could you consider making it more of a compulsion than a choice? And perhaps showing the trigger, or at least giving a stronger hint of it? If, as is suggested by this rev, it has something to do with the girl's death, then I'm afraid we are getting too driven by coincidence to be convincing if her trigger is something other than the redhead. Finally, the height. Is it necessary? Unless it *is* the story, it's too much and pulled me out.


  4. Agree that the beginning hooks the reader. If Lauren's section is shortened (try removing the "I look,I hear, I place) the pace might step up and we'd feel the compulsion.

    In this revision I became more interested in Rachel and got a better feel for her character, until Gary showed up and the 6'3 which pulled me out of the main story: the appearance of the redhead (which seems like the critical part of the story).

  5. I like it! It's really getting good now. I wonder if you can pull the redhead into Lauren's story too even for a moment to connect everything together? I'm definitely intrigued and would keep reading. Sorry it took me so long to comment, I've been without internet most of the week. YUCK!


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