Monday, October 8, 2012

8 1st 5 Pages October Workshop - Marshall

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

She was giving up. At 8:15 next Monday evening, on her birthday, life would cease to exist for Stacy 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, sleep drifted back upon her, calling her to the welcoming softness of her dreams.

The alarmed screamed at her 10 minutes later. 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. Stacy 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 Stacy was gone? 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, Stacy 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 Stacy.

“Hey, coffeecake! How are ya’?”

Claire greeted Stacey each day with whatever breakfast food she had eaten that morning. Sometimes Stacy 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.

Stacy 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 painted them almost two weeks before. During that week, she had determined she was going to feel better, about herself, about life, and all the things that had gone terribly wrong. She had invited Rachel to spend the night, a friend she had hung out with before she and Bobby had started dating. Rachel cancelled at the last minute and Stacy sat alone and painted her nails, 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 Stacy knew he didn’t really want to hear about it. He had buried his pain beneath his work and now he had Rachel in his life.

Stacy glanced up and saw Claire talking to the boy ahead of them. “Thank goodness,” she thought and leaned her head back against the green bus seat. People needing her was too much lately. She didn’t want to care or be needed or take on more on her already burdened back. She wanted silence, peace. She didn’t need hope anymore. Hope was for those who cared and wanted to go on. She was done, beyond hope or a handout. Beyond feeling really. Just a desperate inner cry to go and be done, to cease struggling with herself and the heaviness of the world.

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 Rachel. 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.”

Stacy 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.


  1. Stacy's despair permeates the lines, and her resolve. why wait until her birthday, we wonder?

  2. Laura-This is quite interesting. I love the emotion you're putting into it, but I do think you could skip out some of it so it doesn't seem 'too heavy, too soon'. You mentioned a troubled relationship with the father, which is great because it can add more to the story and possibly some growth. I want to see why her goal is to die by her birthday.

  3. I think the thing that gets me most is the opening. If Stacy is giving up, why shouldn't I as a reader? You emphasize her sadness and her lack of hope through the rest of the pages. I don't know if this would work with what you have planned, but maybe consider starting with something else? Otherwise, nice job with the emotion!


  4. I feel the despair. It wasn't clear to me at first that this was a suicide situation though. I'd like to see more interaction with her and the world during this day. I want to get her depression less through internal thoughts, which can annoy a reader who doesn't understand/hasn't felt that before as giving up, and more through her actions/interactions. Right now, it doesn't feel like much of a plot. I feel bad for her, but don't feel like I know her. I want to be attached to her first so I can be truly upset when she decides to give up.

  5. I tend to agree with everyone else so far. Her despair is a bit heavy and I don't feel that attachment to her as I would like. Why is she so depressed?

    I'm curious about these things that have gone wrong. What are they? "During that week, she had determined she was going to feel better, about herself, about life, and all the things that had gone terribly wrong"

    When she mentions she doesn't want to think about her mother, why? What happened with her mother?

    Also, I got really confused with Rachel. Rachel was a friend of hers before Stacy and Bobby dated, right? Then you mention that her dad is too busy with Rachel in his life. Is her dad dating her friend? More clarity here might help.

    Watch when you write Stacy, there are a couple of instances where you spell it Stacey and then Stacy in the same paragraph. I get it, I did that before I pinned down the exact spelling of one of my own characters. It happens. lol

    1. One thing screamed out to me while reading this .... I find you have way too many pronouns (her). I lost count after the first two paragraphs.

      Also found it a bit passive at times.

      The paragraph with the "School was the same ..." was a bit repetitive for my taste.

  6. Overall, this is a story that I’m sure is going to really resonate with teens. The topic of suicide is such a hard one to touch, and you’ve done a great job stepping into the mind of this tormented girl and introducing us to her life.

    A couple things I want to point out.
    As a reader we are hoping to really care about the main character, but because so much of the piece is “told” to us rather than “shown,” I believe we are missing our opportunity to care. We are told how she feels. We are told what she is going to do. We are told pretty much everything. Consider stepping back and asking yourself how you could show a couple of these things instead. And this isn’t always the case, but think about dialogue. The piece has almost no dialogue which is many cases means, that we aren’t seeing anything but being told by the narrator what is going on.
    This is a minor thing, but I also didn’t get that Claire was needy. She seems very upbeat and not someone who is depending on Stacy for her happiness. So why does Stacy think Claire is needing her?
    One way to show more is to think of a certain incident and starting there. Perhaps the sleepover with Rachel. Can we see them interact? See the hope in Stacy get dashed rather than starting out with all hope gone. This will truly make us care for her. If we feel more for her, we will want to read on to find out what happens to her.

    Good luck with the revisions! I’ll look forward to hearing more about Stacy next week!

  7. Hi Laura,

    This is such an important topic, and one that all too many teens have to contend with, either through personal suicidal ideation or through knowing someone who has committed or is contemplating suicide. But one of the hard things about treating suicide is that each story is deeply personal. I'd love to know specificially what has led to her decision. I can understand wanting to start with the deeply dramatic revelation, but there are ways to do that with an excerpt, a prologue, a ticking clock chapter heading (72 hours from end of life, 48 hours before my suicide), etc. while still giving us the chance to understand why she would be making this decision and giving us a chance to care about her as a person and not just as someone making a generic tragic mistake. Even better, it would be wonderful to feel her inevitability, her sense that she has no other choice. To see it, not just have her tell us things. Set up scenes that particularly illustrate why her life is not worth living. Does that make any sense?

    Looking forward to seeing this. It's fascinating and so important.



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