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Author Topic: CRIPPLED YET NOT BROKEN (YA Contemporary Romance)  (Read 3012 times)
BeCreativeBeInspired
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« on: June 05, 2016, 11:08:35 AM »

Current version of Crippled's 1st chapter is in post 4.

This is my first attempt at writing YA in the 1st person perspective so I hope I'm doing it right. Also I need someone to be the deciding vote for keeping the story in the present tense or changing it to past tense. Thanks in advance for the feedback and I hope you enjoy it.


                                                                                                   I
                                                                                NO JUSTICE FOR LANEY YATES

   My belly churns even with my jeep windows open. Being the girl who walks back and forth from booths to the window that separates the hot cooking grease still doesn’t take care of the junk’s awful smell. And it does a damn fine job at sticking in my hair. I switch from gas to brake and flick the black wand of my blinker before veering right onto the cement of my driveway.

   After pulling into the vacant garage next to my mama’s Denali, I climb out with achy arm muscles from platter carrying and go inside hoping that I can wash the greasy funk from my hair. I should be the cleanest girl ever. I take two showers a day now. One in the morning then one in the evening just to wash my hair.

   Mama’s in the kitchen taking a break from her TV no doubt. She says, “How many tips did you get today, darlin’?”

   I chuck my keys onto the counter. “Oh a good fifteen dollars, all in ones, too. Then there was this boy in a cowboy hat who looked at me like he was about to give me a crisp new Abe Lincoln.”

   “And did he?”

   Did she not hear what I said about it all being ones? I take a breath before telling her, “Oh he gave me a tip alright. He said I could use his girlfriend’s shampoo to get rid of that grease smell that’s clinging to me. Can I take a shower please?”

   She spins around from the wooden cutting board with fish fillets on it. “You can in about twenty minutes after I finish the current load of clothes.”

   I tap the marble of the counter with my forefinger and demand that she put the laundry on hold for five minutes so I can wash my hair. One would think she knows my workday routine by now.
 
        She tells me, “Use the fragrance spray in the bathroom. That’s why I bought it for you.”

   “Spray isn’t shampoo. Shampoo has white bubbly stuff called suds that are built for longevity. That spray’s just a Band-Aid!”

   She turns back around and continues what she was doing when I walked in. “Either use the spray now, or wait twenty minutes— in fact you might want to wait forty so the water’s warm in the shower.”

    I stomp down the hall and into the bathroom, then grab the bottle of pink spray from the silver dish on the vanity. Once my nerves are a little more composed I head for my bedroom which has turquoise walls plastered with posters of my favorite books’ covers. I spritz my hair and brush it. Not only is it dirty and smelly, it’s twisted in knots.

   Picking up a paperback copy of my current read, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, I power read the last few journal entries from Charlie, the protagonist, as well as the epilogue. Whenever I feel angry or down; reading always re-balances the emotion scale for me.
In my first epistolary read, Charlie writes letters to what I think is the reader and he always addresses the recipient as: Dear Friend, which I like because outside of this girl named Gracie Munroe, my mama, and my boyfriend, I really don’t have many friends. And from what I’ve read; Charlie can be an awesome fourth.

   Grabbing my laptop which sits on the hardwood floor near my bed, I go into Google and click on the Goodreads link in my favorites bar. My phone begins to sing: People Like Us by Kelly Clarkson. I already know who’s there without looking at the screen. “What ya been up to, Gracie?”

   “Ma and I rode by the diner today and thought about going in to see you. But then she sped past because she said she didn’t wanna smell like cooking grease after leaving.” She chuckles and adds, “I still have no clue how y’all stay in business.”

   I tell her because our customers come for the food, not the overall smell, and then I remember how this whole grease thing can end. “You do know there’s a suggestions box on the counter near the register? You can come in and suggest setting up some of those automatic air fresheners.” She asks me why I can’t do that and I tell her, “Because the manager says employee suggestions never count. We tried at first but she just taped a sign in front of it on the counter that says: SUGGESTIONS ARE FOR CUSTOMERS ONLY.”

   She then asks if I’ve finished Perks yet, and I say that I’m about to write a four star review. I put her on speaker and start to type, reading it aloud to her. “I know my review of Mister Chbosky’s only prose written work is probably moot because this book has already experienced what all books and their authors want: critical acclaim and a spot on the New York Times Bestseller’s List. But I still want to say what I liked and hated about it. I saw the movie first and wanted to read the novel; and in my opinion, while I love the book I still love the movie more.

   “The main reason is because the movie is cinematic which is great at hooking and keeping the viewer anchored and immersed at what is happening on-screen. Sadly this was not the case on the page when reading it. Charlie, while an interesting character who I have to say has went through some pretty intense sh** in his life, is unable to translate them in a cinematic way that the movie did. Which made the reading experience at sometimes dull and all tell instead of show.

   “But I guess that is the case when one writes an epistolary piece. However I did love Charlie and all of his friends, Patrick in particular. I loved Charlie’s voice and how he was able to talk about subjects like sex with such innocence. So all-in-all I give this read a four star review but really wished for a more cinematic reading experience.”

   Gracie says, “It sounds a little too critical. Like, I can see the challenge of writing an epi— something novel and it being dull. To write it with a lot of showing would be unrealistic of a real person’s journal entries.”

   “You’re the one who told me to watch the movie, and here you are unable to even pronounce the genre.” She knew I was joking. We always did things like that to each other.

   “Asking you how far along you were with Perks and listening to your review of it wasn’t the reason I called you, though.”

   “Really? I figured you did it ‘cause we’ve been best friends for so many years.”

   “Nope. I called to see if you wanted to go with me down to the Fulton County Courthouse tomorrow to protest the inevitable release of that sick psycho, Rick Ludlow.”

   I’d read the papers ever since that child predator became national news. Rick Ludlow was a teacher at a high school in Atlanta Georgia who had been giving away free A’s like candy to the pretty girls in his Chemistry class. And when I say pretty, I mean the flakes that eat nothing. So chubby girls are safe and don’t get free A’s.
 
        Now I know that a free Chemistry A doesn’t sound original, but the second part is all but cliché. And far more disgusting. He would secretly video the act and then post the vids to a website on the dark net frequented by other pedophiles like him. The rumor going around for his release was that the judge signed the arrest warrant in the wrong place.

   I ask, “What does Mama M. think about you going down to those courthouse steps, hmm?”

   There is a small pause on the other end. “My ma doesn’t know about it. And if you’re going with me, your ma can’t know, either.”

   “Tomorrow’s my off-day, so pick me up tomorrow between nine and ten. She’ll be at work then anyway, but you gotta—”

   “Chill girl. I think I can definitely have you back before five in the evening when your ma comes home.”

   After the call ends I have a quick mental debate about whether or not to copy the review to my blog, or do it in the morning before Gracie comes over. I decide the latter. Besides, I can already smell the grilled haddock fillets mama is fixing in the kitchen for supper.
                                                                                                        * * *
   The cool air from our living room air conditioner slams into my face as I walk behind the dark leather couch with my mother sitting on it. The fishy smell grows in my nose as I look towards the kitchen. Hearing the sizzling underneath her grill that seals in every ounce of flavor on the meals it grills, my eyes shoot over to the table where three places are set and I turn to my mama and ask if Mason is coming over.

   Without looking away from the TV, she says, “He texted me that he is in Fort Canton now, so it should be about ten minutes till he gets here. Five if he uses the lights and siren on his squad car.” Her head turns to me and she adds, “Get your shower yet?”

   “Nu-uhh but I wanna apologize about earlier. I—”

   “Don’t worry about it. I used to have the same problems, the same attitude, and the same arguments when I was at my high school job.”

   “It’s just— this job’s made not wanna eat fried food ever again.”

   “Well look at it this way. One more year and you’ll be off to college and working on campus. Living on campus. And Mason and I’ll get to come and see you once every week.”

   I make my way over to the vacant cushion and sit. Mason’s a cop with the Chattahoochee Police Department which is about forty to forty five minutes from our little town of Ridgewood Georgia. Mama works as a control panel builder for ovens and stoves at a plant in Oakland with about twenty five percent of our town.

   The introduction tune of the seven o’ clock news flies out of our flat-screen’s speakers, and the two co-anchors, Michael and Kimberly, come up on-screen. Michael’s been doing the news ever since I was in diapers, while Kimberly came on about three years ago to replace the female lead who died of ovarian cancer.

   The next guy to flash on the screen is Willis or better known as: Willy the Weatherman, who is more often than not wrong in his forecast predictions. We don’t blame him anymore, we just expect the opposite of what he says. And bringing the cast of real people with one-dimensional personalities to a close is Lawrence with sports. I never much cared for sports because of what they did to my daddy. Or what mama said they did to him anyway.

   The main star with his pristine hair says, “Good evening everyone and thank you for joining us. Tonight’s top story: Known sex offender, Rick Ludlow’s trial is still moving through the process at the Fulton County Courthouse. Let’s join one of our reporters on Pryor Street for a more in-depth perspective.”

   A petite curly haired redhead appears on screen with red lipstick and a smile as white as her skin. She gives her cameraman an are we on look and starts. “Thanks Michael. I am here in front of the Fulton County Courthouse, as you can see the magnificent architecture of the façade behind me.”

   I roll my eyes at her and wonder if there was ever a time when the on-site correspondents couldn’t sound like they’re reading from a script?

        “Groups of people are standing here awaiting the verdict. The reason being some rumors that were plastered across Twitter and Facebook stating that some legal documentation had been falsified, and one of the key witnesses for the prosecution had declined to give testimony.”

   The screen splits down the center to show both Michael and the redhead’s faces. Michael says, “Thank you, Tasha. We endeavor to keep you viewers at home up-to-date with the trial’s proceedings as well as relaying the verdict of guilty or not guilty upon receiving the information.”

   Kimberly says, “And when we come back, a more local story about debut author, Rita Myers, and her publication detailing the events that happened at Oakland High School between students Damion Sparks and Parker Kaplan almost seven years ago.”

   The front door opens while a commercial replaces the news, and Mason walks in wearing his uniform and twisting the volume knob on his walkie-talkie to hush it. “There’s my favorite girlfriend/daughter duo,” he says with a smile that stretches from ear to ear.

   Mama gets up to greet him with a small peck on the cheek, but even I can tell he wants more than that. “Take a seat. Dinner’s almost ready,” she says as she goes into the kitchen to check on it.

   Mason rubs the tips of his mustache and asks, “Has Larry said anything about today’s sports scores yet?”

   “No, and I really wouldn’t care if he did.”

   He tousles my hair and says, “I’m sorry, Lane, I forgot.”

   “It’s ok. Mama said he left because of sports betting and gambling debts. She said that one morning she woke up to a note on his pillow and the drawers that were his were empty.”

   “You remember his name? I’ve an old partner that used to work in this area all through the nineties.” He lifts a finger and says, “And he also arrested a lot of gambling addicts that went to underground poker games and used fake ID’s and such to avoid debt collectors.”

   “Wayne. His name is Wayne Callahan.”

   “Never heard of him, but I’ll pass the name along. It’ll be a long shot since most of the runners create new names for themselves. When does school start back? You excited about senior year?”

   I wait for Miss Myers to finish the answer to one of Michael’s questions and then say, “Answer to one is eight days from now, technically seven because today is almost over with. Answer to two is most definitely since it’s mine and Gracie’s final year at the same time.”

   “And—”

   “College?” He nods, and I continue, “Gracie wants to go into film, whereas I would love to get a Bachelor’s in English Literature and Creative Writing. Rita Myers is an idol of mine.”

   “Who?”

   I clear my throat and point to the TV.  “Oh her. I’m not really into reading what you teens are reading. The only authors I read are Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, John Grisham, authors like them.”

   I ask if Stephen King is in the list and tells me that that goes without saying.

   Mama calls us over to the dining room table where plates of haddock with grilled zucchini and squash wait for us.
                                                                                               * * *
   My cell plays: Don’t You Wanna Stay. This one’s from my boyfriend, Dirk. Glancing at the cell’s screen, its clock displays 9:15. Wait a sec, it’s 9:15 and Gracie said she would come to pick me up between 9:00 and 10:00. He’d better make it quick. “What is it, Dirky?”

   His voice sounds like a pot smoking surfer’s, “Hey, babe. I was wondering if you had a moment to talk, or maybe I can come by the diner around lunch or something.”

   Jeez does he ever listen to me? I told him Wednesday was my off-day this past weekend. I roll my eyes and say, “Today’s my day off and Gracie and I have plans. Can this wait till this evening? I’ll call you when I’ve got some time.”

   I hang up and start to get ready by throwing a pair of jeans and a sky blue top on my bedsheets which are ruffled. Why couldn’t Dirk have called sooner, or maybe if I had for once used my kitty cat alarm clock that I’ve yet to use in the five years that I’ve had it.

   Hurrying into the bathroom to brush my teeth I see the pathetic mess of an un-showered brunette mop on my head. What the hell was I dreaming about last night that made me wake up with the hair of a mental patient? After supplying my mouth with some minty freshness, I lasso the unpredictable strands with a scrunchie, putting it into a ponytail. Maybe I’ll get around to showering it when I’m not running late, or when the washer’s empty.

   As I get back into my room to change out of my jammies, a car door shuts outside. Gracie knows where the hide-a-key is so I concentrate on changing and allow her to let herself in. A few moments later she knocks at my bedroom door and since I have my jeans on as well as a bra, I allow her to come in.

   “You ready to show that monster how much you hate his taste in sexual preferences?”

   I nod. “Just let me get this top on. If I go down there with just jeans and a bra on he might lick his lips if he’s released. The last thing I wanna do is arouse a sicko.”

   I lock the door and we get into her four door car that looks like it’s been washed. I’ve never been one to keep track of which make is which, but that Chevy emblem’s on the grill thing.

   As I ride shotgun with Kelly Clarkson’s Greatest Hits CD blaring from the speakers, I roll the window down to allow my ponytail to get a little air. After two hours of Kelly, my belly begins to echo its emptiness when we hit the Atlanta city limits.

   “Hungry,” she asks as she makes a left around the corner with the traffic light displaying the amber signal of slow down drivers that can see me.

   “Just a little bit.” I notice a Starbucks coming up on the right, and say, “I could go for an iced coffee and some Starbucks spinach and feta cheese wraps.”

   Gracie pulls into an empty spot on the curb; lucky she doesn’t have to parallel park to do it. Last time she did a stunt like that she dented both of her bumpers and one of the two cars that she hit. I tease her, “Remember the time when—”

   “That won’t happen this time, Lane. There’s no cars in front or behind me. So I will still go home with my license today.”

   She feeds the meter, while I dash towards the café. The bitter smell of roasted coffee beans sticks in the air as I walk through the door then hold open for Gracie. I look up at the menu above the counter even though I already know what I want. As we wait Gracie asks if she can stay after dropping me off and watch Perks with a bowl of lightly buttered popcorn.

   “Sure. My mama won’t mind since she approves of us hanging out together.”

   “Have you read the books or saw the movies where the kid who plays Charlie plays Percy Jackson?”

   My mind becomes knotted as it tries to put together which one plays Charlie. “You mean Logan Lerman? And I wanna say the book series is by Rick… something with an R. And it’s called Percy Jackson & The Olympians. Am I close to being right?”

   “Yep, that’s the one.”

   I shake my head no in response to her question. “If I read another fantasy series it has to be The Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis.”

   As a kid with acne and freckles asks what I want, Gracie says that she’ll make finding the whole box-set her goal after we get back to Ridgewood. Once we get our food and drinks, Gracie goes back and puts all the coins from Acne-Guy in the meter for some extra parking time.

   The Starbucks is within walking distance of the courthouse so we decide to pound the sidewalk, and because Gracie detailed her car a week ago and doesn’t want food and drinks in it for at least a month or two.

        I take a bite of wrap as we mix in with the ever-growing crowd that’s standing on the sidewalk in front of the Fulton County Courthouse. The other wrap is in my pocket protected with a layer of foil. Standing on my tiptoes I see that most of the people in the front are holding signs that say: FRY HIM! PUT HIM ‘N GENERAL POP.!

   A small team of uniformed officers line the steps of the courthouse with blue barricades to help keep the protesters back. Then I hear one of the female officers say on a megaphone, “Please people; clear the sidewalk.” Her voice is amplified times a hundred, but the protesters refuse to move because their yells cancel out hers.

   Gracie says, “If she thinks she can stymie our rights to peacefully protest as citizens of America then she needs to reread the constitution.”

   “You call this peaceful, Grace?”

   The doors to the courthouse open and I hear a reporter say in front of his network’s cameraman, “It appears that the courts have granted Mr. Ludlow freedom. This is a very unwise move since this crowd is already fueled by the rumored outcome on social media.”

   Gracie tugs on me to follow her up to the front so we can get pictures of him to post on our blog in case he jumps states or something. Before I can protest about swimming through the sea of protesters she’s already on the move. I follow her as I wad up the empty foil that contained my first wrap and get my cell from my pocket.

        The cops fan out to contain the rowdy crowd, and I take position to click the pic when a combo of body odor and strong booze flies up my nose. A man with dirty long hair in a long trench-coat with oil stains on it sidles me and yells, “Lucifer shall claim your heathen soul, Ludlow!”

        He withdraws a long barreled shotgun and fires a blast which sends my ears into a ringing frenzy. I watch, frozen, as the blast collides with Ricky’s attorney, entering his chest. The officers escorting him take aim and fire at the shotgun guy as the ringing in my ears drowns out everything else. I feel a tug on my clothes as a white hot pain spreads through my upper leg and thigh.

        I close my eyes as the whole world goes sideways and fall backwards. I open them to see the milky grey overcast sky. Muffled screams and the ringing continue to fight for control in my ears. The left side of my waist begins to feel wet. I touch it and look at my palm which is stained with red. My eyes shift from the gory horror to see Gracie’s honey golden eyes staring at me as if into the distance. Her face becomes a blur upon my eyes shutting one final time.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2017, 07:06:05 PM by BeCreativeBeInspired » Logged
debbie.rosenberg58
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2016, 03:38:49 PM »

Hello. Your POV is fine.  I like the present tense. Also, you have a horrifying inciting incident that gets buried in all the ordinary that comes before it. I get it that this may be on purpose, but especially in YA, you have to cut to the chase. If the MC is paralyzed, you may want to start with her stretching her legs, or something else personal and/or physical, so the reader gets what she loses.  Too much about the grease and the hair and the shower. I'm not sure the voice is age appropriate; this doesn't sound like a 17-year old to me.  Be careful how you reveal information in dialogue; the bit about the mother talking about college sounds forced.

I believe there is a major market right now for diversity, including the physically handicapped if that's where you're headed.

Hope this is helpful. 
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BeCreativeBeInspired
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« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2016, 09:36:54 PM »

Hello, Debbie. Most of your suggestions have been revised after getting feedback from my critique partner. At first I was worried I was doing present tense wrong, or that it didn't seem right. So it's great to hear that more people like it. I'm planning on having a few teenage beta readers give me feedback too at some point. So hopefully that will take care of the voice issue. Thanks for your feedback, it was very helpful!  Grin
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BeCreativeBeInspired
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« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2016, 09:12:30 PM »

Okay, I've rewritten the opening completely. And I've also tweaked Laney's voice some. Hopefully she sounds more age appropriate now. Thanks for your critiquing and reading!!! Happy writing to all!!!

Update: I'm polishing a new version of my opening chapter. Should have it up here before the week's over with. As always hope all is well with everyone else's writing!  Smiley

                                                                                                           I
                                                                                          NO JUSTICE FOR LANEY YATES

Lesson learned. If you get caught with a fake ID make sure your mama’s dating a badge boy. Oh and this is only my opinion, but if your boyfriend’s the same bastard who gave you the fake ID dump him ASAP.

I shoot up the block like a marathoner determined to come in first place. People must think I’m crazy pin balling between them like this. My clinched fist still squeezes the empty mace can I just used. Dirk aka The Ex has gotta be rubbing his eyes raw by now. I hang a right at the corner and toss it in the trash two blocks away from the library. My backup ride should still be there.

I should’ve played this whole thing smart and said no when he gave me the ID. But I’d read a novel with a scene where a seventeen year old protagonist uses a fake ID to get into a bar, and he didn’t get caught. I wanted to experience that fictional fantasy first hand to see if it was that easy.

Obviously it’s not. Lucky for me I didn’t go through with drinking a beer in my experience, and scored complete zero on the breathalyzer test. This being my first offense and since the badge boy knew mama, this won me a verbal warning from the law. However I lost when mama found out. I’m grounded from driving till school starts back.

I look back to see if he’s at least made progress. The front of his BMW sits at the corner I just came around. The red light has him trapped.

A few seconds later he passes by slowly with a cruiser on his tail, not so much as a glance in my direction. Goodbye and good luck to the next poor girl. I get to the library and lean on the hood of Gracie’s car. My cell’s clock says she’ll be coming outta those doors right about now.

And sure enough she walks out with a surprised look on her face. Unlike me, Gracie’s been able to test the believability of what she reads, and she’s never gotten caught. She’s been my bestie since fifth grade when a bunch of the boys thought we had cooties.

“Lane, I thought you wanted me to pick you up at the diner?”

“Sorry. Dirk didn’t give me a chance to end it this morning. And when I ended it about five minutes ago he got aggressive I used my mace and ran.”

“How bad was it? Like did he try and slap you or something?”

“Nothing like that. His hands went for my throat and I let his eyes have it.”

She beeps the lock and I climb in and buckle up. That new car smell’s still hanging around after two months off the dealer’s lot. When we get on Main Street, she says, “You know there’s this guy that comes in a lot. Reads a lot from the media tie-in section. I think he’d be perfect for you.”

And she’s already playing the set-up card. “No thanks.”

“Oh, come on. Just meet him is all I’m saying. His name’s Seamus. He’s like Dirk’s polar opposite.”

Alright he does seem like my type. Maybe because all Dirk ever did was throw my books across the room when I was reading them. “Grace, it’s sweet that you’re willing to be the setter upper, but I need some time to myself right now. Maybe I’ll start writing, really writing before going back out onto the singles scene.”

She flicks her blinker and pulls off of Main Street. “You know what you need?”

“Accept that I can’t pull off using a fake ID as good as a fictional character?”

“That would help. But I was thinking of you being my plus one in Atlanta tomorrow. I thought we’d go down and protest of Rick Ludlow’s mistrial.”

Rick Ludlow was a high school teacher in Atlanta who had been giving away free A’s like candy to the pretty girls in his Chemistry classes. Now I know a free Chemistry A doesn’t sound original, but the second part is all but cliché. And far more disgusting. He’d secretly video them having sex with him before posting the footage to a website on the dark net for other pedophiles. The rumor going around for his release was that the judge signed the arrest warrant in the wrong place. I may not go to a school in Atlanta, but he’s why I asked for the mace in the first place.

The tossup between deciding must’ve registered on my face because she says, “Then we can go to the bookstore. And then to that new gelato place that just opened up on Peachtree.”

I’m still mulling it over when she pulls into my cement driveway. “So how about it?”

Books and gelato. She knows me so well. “What if something happens at the protest?”

“What could happen when there’s a whole army of police down there? Come on. Only an hour of protesting then it’ll be just you and me.”

“But I’m grounded.”

“You said you were grounded from driving. Not from riding shotgun. Not from going to Atlanta. Besides I’ll have you and me back here before our mas ever find out.”

“Alright. But I’m not holding up any signs.”

She pulls out and I go in where the cool air from the air conditioner chills my face. Mama’s on the couch currently in full Doctor Phil watching mode. I bet she’s looking for tips on how to deal with this rebellious streak she thinks I have.

A sizzling sound and grilled fish smell streams from the kitchen. My eyes go to the table which is set for three. “Is Mason coming over?”

Without looking away from the TV, she says, “He texted me that he’s in Fort Canton, so it’ll be about ten minutes till he gets here. Five if he uses the lights and siren on his squad car.” And now her head cranks left. I can just about hear the joints popping. “You taking your shoes off and putting your purse down anytime soon?”

I do both and plop down on the cushion next to her. I know she worries because she loves me. And I’d be completely lost without her. She works as a control panel builder for ovens and stoves at a plant in Oakland, along with about twenty five percent of our town.

She might make more than me on a paycheck, but there’s no way I’d work on some assembly line all day. And she’s already made me swear to never follow in her footsteps. Again, because she loves me.

“Oh yeah, Dirk and I are finished.”

“He’s the one who gave you the ID, right?”

“Mm-hmm. So maybe you can—”

“You’re still grounded. And you can forget having a drink when you turn twenty one. The bars and drinks will still be around when you turn twenty two.”

“I can live with that. After smelling that yeasty crap on Dirk’s breath I may never drink ever.”

She leans over and kisses my cheek. “I still love you, darlin’. And it would destroy me if you wound up in jail or worse.”

Phil’s time ends and the introduction tune of the six o’ clock news flies out of our TV’s speakers. The two co-anchors, Michael and Kimberly, come up on-screen. Let me guess, the top story will be Ludlow’s trial.

Michael flashes a blinding bleached smile, and says, “Good evening everyone and thank you for joining us. Tonight’s top story: Rick Ludlow’s trial is still moving through the process at the Fulton County Courthouse. Let’s join Susan on Pryor Street for a more in-depth perspective. Susan?”

Alright, two things have gotta happen. Either I stop watching the news or they hurry up and end this whole Ludlow thing.

A petite redhead appears on-screen with an are we on look. “Thanks, Michael. I am here in front of the Fulton County Courthouse, as you can see the magnificent architecture of the façade behind me.”

She looks like she’s fresh outta college, an intern would be my guess. Last time I heard someone her age use magnificent and façade in the same sentence it was in a historical romance novel set in the early nineteen thirties.

“Groups of people have been waiting here for days for the verdict. The reason being some rumors plastered across social media stating that some legal documentation had been falsified, and one of the key witnesses for the prosecution had declined to give testimony.”

Gracie wants to be a part of that? Come on let’s not jump to conclusions, they all look nonviolent. All they’re doing is chanting: Justice for… and then they’re adding the name of the witness who declined to give testimony.

“Thank you, Susan.”

Kimberly says, “And when we come back, we’ll meet debut author, Rita Myers, and her book detailing the events that happened at Oakland High School between students Damion Sparks and Parker Kaplan almost seven years ago.”

My eyes light up as the first of a slew of commercials come on. There’s the reason I wanted to watch today’s broadcast. Rita Myers is an idol of mine, and her debut novel’s on a shelf all on it’s on in my room. One day I’m gonna be like her, maybe even co-author something with her. Stop it, un-jinx, un-jinx.

The front door opens and in walks Mason as the previews of a sit-com come on. “There’s my favorite girlfriend/daughter duo!”

Mama gets up to greet him with a small peck on the cheek, but even I can tell he wants more than that. “Take a seat. Dinner’s almost ready,” she says as she goes into the kitchen to check on it.

I think mama got lucky when Mason came along about a year ago in his white stallion with blue lights to fix her flat tire. He changed it and referred her to a buddy of his since one of her hazards was out. When she invited him over for a thank you dinner we became friends almost instantly. I’m also happy it was him who caught me out with Dirk and company at that bar. No other badge boy would’ve been so lenient.

Mason rubs the tips of his mustache and asks, “Have they said anything about today’s sports scores yet?”

“Nope. And I wouldn’t pay attention either way if they did.”

He tousles my hair and says, “I’m sorry, Lane, I forgot.”

The thing he forgot about is something I wish I could. One morning mama woke up to a note on daddy’s side of the bed saying he’d left because of gambling debts and betting sports. And you’re thinking why was I dating Dirk the football player, right? He like the fake ID he gave me was another fictional fantasy I read about. Another one that didn’t work out like it did on the pages.

I tell him it’s fine and that I need another can of mace.

“I’ll grab you one tomorrow.” Mama comes over with his daily beer bottle and he gives her a thank you nod. “When does school start back? You excited about senior year?”

I wait for Miss Myers to finish the answer to one of Michael’s questions. “Answer to one is fifteen days from now, technically fourteen because today’s almost over with. Answer to two is most definitely since it’s mine and Gracie’s final year at the same time.”

The sports’ scores come across the screen and he chuckles. “Yes! Looks like three of the guys owe me fifty bucks each tomorrow.”

I give him one of those smiles that say I’m happy but could honestly care less. Mama calls that supper’s ready and I follow him over to the table. So far so good. They don’t suspect a thing about mine and Gracie’s plans for tomorrow.
                                                                                                           * * *
Gracie merges with an exit bound for Atlanta. Between the two of us she’s the best to tackle the unpredictability of Atlanta’s drivers. I twist the volume wheel and the radio goes silent. “So Mason slept over for the first time last night.”

Her eyes shoot over to me and she smiles before braking to avoid an SUV. “And how did it go?”

“Don’t know how mama feels yet, but I like it. It’s nice having him around because—”

He’s like the daddy I never had.” She giggles. “I think he’ll be asking to move in soon. Especially if this was a trial run.”

She always loves parroting my signature catch phrase associated with mama’s relationships hitting a highpoint. “And I can tell Mason wants a daughter. He woke me up this morning just to wish me a good day despite being grounded.”

My belly growls and with the radio silent that’s the only sound we both hear. “Hungry?”

“Just a little bit.” I notice the green logo for my favorite coffee place coming up on the right. “I could go for some Starbucks right now.”

She slows next to an empty spot between two cars. As she starts to figure the angle, I say, “Remember the time when—”

“That won’t happen if you let me focus. That’s it. That’s it. Careful backing up just a tad. Perfect.”

She feeds the meter and as we walk up to Starbucks I pray that I never have to parallel park again. Doing it two years ago to get my license was more than enough.

The bitter smell of roasted coffee beans sticks in the air as I walk through the door and hold it open for her. I look up at the menu above the counter. Feels like a Frappuccino and a sweet and moist blueberry scone type of day.

“So,” she says, “what should I read next? Some fantasy? Sci-fi? Bit of both maybe?”

“I don’t know. I guess you could go for some classic fantasy. How about The Chronicles of Narnia?”

“That’s sort of outside our review blog’s demographic isn’t it?”

She has a point. The Teen Bibliophiles’ Blog we created only caters to books within the young-adult range. “Yes, but they’re good books. Plus maybe some of our followers have little brothers and sisters. And there’s never nothing wrong with branching out.”

“You should be a hostage negotiator. Or one of those people who answer the calls to a suicide hot-line. You’re good at convincing people of stuff.”

The line progresses and I try not to stare at the guy behind the counter with a pimple convention on his face. “I’ll take a blueberry scone and a small pumpkin spice Frappuccino.”

Gracie makes her order and while paying, says, “When I see that Seamus guy again, I’m going to ask him out. Unless you still—”

“No. I told you yesterday that I wanna read some more. Possibly write half of the novel before I even look for another guy to call my boyfriend.”

We head back to her car where she adds some more coins to the meter. “Fine. I’ll ask him and keep him occupied till you’re ready.”

My mouth’s already full with a bite of soft scone. I hurry to swallow. “Alright. I’ll meet him when school starts back. Can we talk about something else please?”

“Good. Because I know you had to fake most of your emotions with Dirk. With Seamus you won’t have to fake anything.”

Damnit! She’s not gonna let this end till I meet him is she? I sigh and sip my Frappuccino that tastes like warm pumpkin pie in a cup. She starts asking me if the plot’s changed for my novel when I catch a glimpse of the courthouse steps.

Hundreds and hundreds of people mix on the sidewalk with a few standing at the edge on Pryor Street’s pavement. These aren’t the peaceful ones I saw last night chanting a mantra in tandem. Their signs say: FRY HIM! PUT HIM ‘N GEN POP.! It’s like they’re the evil stand-ins while the other ones went to get some sleep or something.

A small team of uniformed badge boys and girls line the steps of the courthouse with blue barricades between them and us. One of the girls says on a megaphone, “Please— clear— street.” That’s all I hear with the protesters yells mixed in.

Gracie says, “If she thinks she can take away our rights to peacefully protest as citizens of America, then she needs to reread the constitution.”

“You call this peaceful, Grace?” My hands start going clammy, and the anxiety bubbles in my brain as the Protest Sea washes over me. Damnit! I lose my scone and Frappuccino in the shuffle.

The doors to the courthouse open, and a reporter meters away says, “It appears that the courts have granted Mr. Ludlow freedom. This is a very unwise move since this crowd is already fueled by the rumored outcome.”

Gracie tugs on me to swim with her up to the front so we can get pictures of him to post on the blog in case he jumps states. Before I can launch a protest of my own, she’s already on the move. I pull my cell from my purse. This ain’t a good idea.

The badge boys and girls fan out to contain the rowdy crowd, and I take position to click the pic when a combo of body odor and strong booze wafts beside me. A man with dirty long hair in a trench-coat with oil stains on it sidles me and yells, “Lucifer shall claim your heathen soul, Ludlow!”
He pulls a long barreled shotgun from under his coat and fires a blast, sending my ears into a ringing frenzy. I watch, hands over ears as a barrage of red mist flies from the attorney’s back and he falls.

The armed entourage escorting Ludlow take aim and fire at the shotgun guy as the ringing continues. The onlookers duck and hit the ground. Fear’s paralysis refuses to let me duck or dive away from the bullets. Then it happens, a tug on my clothes and a white hot pain in tandem shatter the fear and I hit the ground sideways.

The gloomy overcast sky stares down at me. Muffled screams and the ringing continue to fight for supremacy in my ears. The left side of my waist feels wet. I touch it and look at my palm to see a layer of redness. My eyes shift from the horror show to see Gracie’s honey golden eyes staring at me as if into the distance. Her face becomes a blur and the sounds concede a stalemate. No winner or loser. Only silence.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2017, 09:19:25 PM by LiteraryLegend » Logged
BeCreativeBeInspired
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2017, 07:02:28 PM »

Hi All,
I struck through the previous post to replace it with this one. I've finally rewrote Laney's voice to where I like it, and now I want to know if all of you do too. As always comments on grammar mistakes and small fixes of that nature are encouraged. Thank you and Happy Writing to All!!!!

Oh one more thing, I changed my name from LiteraryLegend to BeCreativeBeInspired.

                                                                                                              I

                                                                                                           LANEY

   There are three classic signs to tell if your current boyfriend’s opening up his loom to another fruit picker. For me, the first sign came along when we met up at the diner, and despite my waitress uniform carrying its layers of grease and sweat, I still smelled a layer of mixed berry fragrance on Dirk when he hugged me. The second sign made an appearance after I found a pink ass-flossing thong in his truck’s backseat. And the third sign… well the third is something my bestie, Gracie, and I are about to prove: You catch him in the act with the new fruit picker.

   In the passenger seat of Gracie’s car, I watch her search to no success for more news coverage for the Rick Ludlow trial down in Atlanta. “You gotta give them time to get more news to tell, girl.”

   And with what Rick did there’ll be so much more to come. He was a high school teacher who gave gals in short-shorts free A’s in his Chemistry classes. In exchange for the grade they’d agree to sex, and he’d video it in secret. Over time I guess he decided to upload the vids to a site for all the other sickos.

   “I know. I know. It’s just that…” She gives up the news search, and presses her back into the seat. “It just shouldn’t take this long to decide his fate.”

   While I agree a hundred and ten percent with her, the rev from a motor roars closer and closer. And there he is, the sicko that pissed me off as much as Gracie is right now. Dirk’s four door dinosaur blurs by, and the tires squeal as he turns into the empty lot that’s a daycare for our cars when school’s in session.

   Can't wait for her to caress your quarterback buns of steel can ya?

           I can scratch dating a football player off the list of fictional fantasies worth pursuing in reality.

   “Can we go now?” Gracie flicks my bare arm with a magenta nail. “Hey, Lane. You want to do this or what?”

        “Floor it.”

   She cranks up and we cruise outta our hiding place between two rows of overgrown fence foliage. As the sun brushes my face in a mix of light and shade, she asks, “So why can’t you text him and say it’s over?”

   “Trust me, girl. This way’s the best. Besides, we need to catch him in the act. The only evidence I’ve got on him proves that he might be metrosexual.” I can already see the article in our school's paper: Ridgewood High Quarterback Caught Exploring His Feminine Side.

   Damn, maybe I should beg Miss Tahmir for my old job back as lead writer for the “Ridgewood High Breeze” when senior year starts? No, I gave that up to write what I wanted, plus I can't take away what Gracie gained.

   She circles the wheel right and takes a spot where the front office staff usually parks. “I’m just glad you two are finally ending it. Dirk was— he was so— give me a word, bestie.”

   “Conceded? Narcissistic?”

   “Narcissistic matches him to a T.”

         I get out and take a deep breath. Alright, time to do this. Thankfully the football field’s concealed by the school. No one driving on the backroad outta the city will get a free show.

        We race across the lot and immediately drop before peaking over the embankment that’s teaming with tufts of onion grass. Dirk and his new fruit picker scale the fence and run, hand-in-hand towards the field. Just the memory of our hands touching like that makes me cringe.

   The same lock and chain that played bouncer to them stares back at me, and Gracie says, “Well, we tried.”

   “Come on, all we gotta do is scale the fence and hop over.” I tell her while keeping her from spinning around.

   “But you’ve never scaled a fence and hopped over before. And neither have I.”

   I take off my flip-flops and toss them over. Backing up, I start running and leap at the hot mesh, I claw my way up and it burns which makes me toss myself over too fast. Every nerve in my back screams when I collide with the ground. Never again will I do that. I lay there for a bit and listen for approaching footfalls. Half a minute goes by with nothing but silence. Alright they're either deaf, or heard and don't care.

   “Nice form but a tad rough on the landing.”

   “Betcha can't do it,” I tell her as I get up and slip my flip-flops back on.

   She climbs up and over, choosing to scale both sides of the fence unlike me who decided to hurl over and hope for the best. “And that’s how you climb a fence, Lane.”

   I clasp an arm over her shoulders and pull her over to me. “Laney Yates and Gracie Munroe, the truth-seeking, fence-scaling besties.”

   We both giggle till we get up in the announcer’s box, when my mood refocuses on why I’m here. Now, where’d they settle down at?

        My eyes catch movement in our team’s end zone. There you are you horny bull with your bronzer chest and abs exposed. I hand Gracie the CD of the breakup song I burned, and pull my phone from my pocket and scroll through the contacts. Time to play matador. Wonder if he’ll even answer?

   He doesn’t pick up. I hammer the CALL button again. “See, he’s too in the moment to care about a phone call. Let’s leave.”

   “Shh.”

   He raises up from her body. Sorry for interrupting the foreplay. “Hey, babe. What’s up?”

   I never much cared for his deep voice even before he cheated. “You got time to swing by the diner? There’s a free barbecue bacon cheeseburger, greasy fries, and hot fudge brownie milkshake in it for you.”

   “Umm, no can do. Kinda busy now.”

   “Too busy for me to collect a tip or two from my favorite customer?”

   He stammers. Come on and confess. I let him pause and toss a few more ums and uhhs at me. “Unless you want the chick underneath you to toss in a tip or two, too.”

   “Wh—”
   
   “I’m up here in the announcer’s box you cheating douchebag. And I’m striking a match and reducing our relationship to ash.” I nod at Gracie who starts the breakup song, and add, “Oh and I hope she can give you what you never got from me.”

   I twist the volume knob on the speakers to the max, and while Taylor Swift’s voice booms throughout the field, we race back, scale the fence, and I land on my feet this time.

         Gracie gives me a deadpanned look and says, “I still don’t see the enjoyment in that, Lane. A text or call would’ve been enough.”

   “I guess you’d just need to be in my shoes to know the feeling. Like I feel very strongly against cheating, lying, and betraying. I wanted to make an example outta him.”

   “Gotcha. I’ll keep an eye out for those in your shoes opportunities.”

   We get in her car and head back through Ridgewood to drop me off at home.

        A cheek stiffening smile contorts my face. No more throwing my books across the room and nibbling at my neck. No more offering me a joint and saying take a drag, babe, it makes everything better. I’m single and wanna stay that way for a good while.

   “Two more weeks,” says Gracie while looking at the school in her mirror.

   “And then thirty-six weeks of senior year before leaving for college.”

        We both have always loved books. Reading them. Reviewing them. Talking about them. And now I want to write one that she wants to help edit.

   During our sophomore year, all we had as far as a class that focused on writing was journalism. Then last year Miss Tahmir started teaching a creative writing course (dropping Sophomore English completely,) and due to the influx of people signing up we didn’t make the roster’s final draft.

   “I hope at least one of us can get in.”

   “It should be you. Besides I'll probably have my hands full editing The Breeze anyways.”

   She pulls off Main Street and onto the dilapidated pavement of Heiskell Lane. The tires strike a pothole nicknamed Big Bebe, and I debate whether to tell her I signed both our names to the sign-up sheet. The hell with it, “That Monday during the sign-up period I put both our names on her sheet.”

   “Thanks, bestie. But even if I get in I’ll bow out for you. You’re the wordsmith between the two of us.”

   We ride down Whitfield Drive and she stops near the curb at my driveway. Before I open the door, she asks, “So where are you with that novel you’re working on?”

   “Half a chapter in a document,” I point to my forehead, “another half up here. The setting’s Atlanta. It’s got suspenseful elements and I feel a big city like Atlanta has so much of that.”

   I climb outta the passenger seat and start up the walkway. She rolls down the window. “I might come by for a Besties Day tomorrow. With this break-up, you need your bestie with you. I can even critique your novel's opening on the spot.”

   “I’m sure I’ll be fine, but you know you’re always welcome beyond that door.”

   “See ya tomorrow, then.”

   I nod and watch her leave. In the novel titled “My Life,” she’s bound to be the best sidekick/supporting character I’ve ever had. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

                                                                                                        * * *
   The creak of my bedroom door makes my eyes shoot open, and the hazy image of mama coming towards my bed becomes clearer. She always kisses my forehead and tells me she loves me before heading to work. It doesn’t matter that I’m seventeen, or hate being woken up on a day off.

   Her lips leave behind their dark red calling card right above my left eye. “That one’s from me.” She plants another above the other eye. “And that one’s from Mason since his shift starts in about ten minutes.”

   I form an ear-to-ear smile. For the longest time now I’ve been waiting for him to finally stay the night. At least that’s a sign that their relationship’s going somewhere. “You thinking that he’s—”

   She puts a finger to my lips. “Don’t jinx it. But I can’t deny that he isn’t.” I get another hug that’s extra tight. “Have fun today since you’ll be back waiting tables tomorrow.”

   “With Gracie coming over, it’ll be an awesome day. She said she’s gonna critique my first chapter.”

   Once she leaves it hits me. Did I remember to save my work last night? Oh sh**, please say I did. Please say I did. I rush over to my desk and lift up my laptop’s screen. A ten-page word document appears, and I breathe in relief. Thank God for auto-save.

   I take the laptop into the kitchen and pour some coffee before sipping and reading what came outta the well of creativity last night. It’s so hard to critic myself, but even I think it’s meh at best.

        I hear a knock at the door and say to the screen, “And that would be your critic. Hopefully she’ll be able to make you less meh.”

   Gracie comes storming in and says, “I’m so pissed, Lane!” This is a new greeting from her. “I swear if that sick son of a bitch walks I’m kicking him in his danglers.”

   “Alright, slow down for a minute and breath, girl. Future author like me and editors like you know the power of words. Use them.”

   “They said last night that his lawyer’s cut a deal for a lenient sentence. They think he might know some of the other sickos who watched the smut he posted.”

   The deal thing has been at rumor status for the last three weeks. I never thought it’d make it to reality status. “There’s nothing we can do about it. I mean it’s the court’s decision.”

   She plops down on the couch and says, “That’s where you’re wrong, bestie. That protest that started ever since the rumors, it’s still going strong.” Her eyes stare at me with seriousness. “We’re heading down to Atlanta and expressing our first amendment rights.”

   “Grace, what happened to just coming by, critiquing my first chapter, and y’know, having a Besties Day?”

   “Well how about this, you said that it takes place in Atlanta, so think of this as setting research. Come on, Lane. I played sidekick yesterday. Doesn’t that mean it’s your turn now?”

   Well she’s right about me needing to do more research around Atlanta. I haven’t been there since eighth grade during a field trip. “What about the critique?”

   “Print it off and I’ll read it on the way.”

   Remembering her natural-born ability to read while riding, I agree.

   I spend the next two hours in the driver’s seat of Gracie’s car while she reads the fresh from the printer copy of “My Own Prison,” Chapter One. I still don’t understand how her eyes can remain un-dizzy while riding and reading. Last time I did that my breakfast wound up all over the backseat. This led to mama’s absolutely no reading while riding rule. And since I hate puking my guts out, it’s one I’ve never broken again.

   We pass the exit for Chattahoochee where Mason works, and I catch a glimpse of a wreck in the oncoming side of the freeway. An SUV sits atop one of those wrecker things and a huge chunk of the freeway’s wall’s gone. At least it didn’t go off the edge and over the overpass.

   Gracie looks up from the pages and says, “Pray to God they’re not hurt. That’s why I hate driving on these things.” She taps on the top page. “Anyway, I’m really identifying with Daniel. And I think that readers will too because of his many attempts to pass those idiotic common core tests.”

   “I know right. It’s like the state’s setting us up to fail.”

   This chat continues till I merge with the Atlanta exit. Some asshole in front of me slams on his brakes which makes me copy him. It’d be bad if a car crash scene made an appearance in today’s chapter of my life.

        “Sorry about that.”

   She waves it away without looking up from the pages. “Better for us to be safe than the brakes. When we get back I’ll go over this again and highlight the grammatical and punctuation errors.”

   “Let me guess, I’ve got heard spelled as herd, right?”

   “Mm-hmm. Plus, some comma splices here and there. You show your story really well. I think Miss Tahmir should look at this too when school starts back. Even if you don’t get into her creative writing class.”

   “Alright.”

   She shoves the pages into the glove compartment, then says she’s a tad hungry. If we stayed at the house, I’d have made some French toast with powdered sugar and boysenberry syrup. There’s a Starbucks coming up on the right, so I pull into a place and feed the meter.

   We get some feta cheese wraps and Frappuccino’s before feeding the meter its dessert to cover our protest at the courthouse. “So, you know who I think will be perfect for you?”

   “No. I just got burned and I need time to remedy all that.”

   She nods while sipping her Frappuccino. “But he’s very cute and he smiles at us all the time at breakfast. He probably will be when we—”

   “Forget it. I just wanna be me for a while.”

   She remains silent for a while, and I start to form an apology when I catch a glimpse of the courthouse steps.

        An ever-growing crowd mixes on the sidewalk with some spilling onto Pryor Street’s pavement… and now they’ve just turned violent with the outcry of: LET THE CRIPS AND THE DREDS RIP HIM TO SHREDS!

        A small team of uniformed badge boys and girls line the steps of the courthouse with blue barricades between them and us. One of them amplifies her voice on a megaphone. “Please— clear— street.” That’s all I hear with the grisly mantra reaching its crescendo, although it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what she means.

        Gracie yells, “If she thinks she can take away our rights to peacefully protest as citizens of America, then she needs to reread the constitution.”

        “You call this peaceful, Grace?” My hands start going clammy, and the anxiety bubbles in my brain as she pulls me into Protester Sea. Damnit, I lose my Starbucks breakfast.

       We swim through the sea, bopping backsides and nudging shoulders. My hands are so sweaty I can barely hang onto hers. The doors to the courthouse open, the mantra ceases, and now they’re yelling for a new reason.

       A reporter to my left, says, “It appears that the courts have granted Mr. Ludlow freedom. This is a very unwise move since this crowd is already fueled by the rumored outcome.”

       The badge boys and girls fan out to contain the rowdy crowd, and I manage to snag a glimpse of Ludlow. He smiles like he just dodged a judicial bullet.
I start fumbling for my phone to snap a pic and post it on Facebook, in case he decides to jump states when a strong smell of BO and cheap booze catches my attention. Then I see it outta the corner of my eye, a man with dirty long hair in a trench-coat with oil stains sidles me and yells, “Lucifer shall claim your heathen soul, Ludlow!”

       He pulls a long-barreled shotgun from under his coat and fires a blast, sending my ears into a ringing frenzy. I watch, hands over ears as a barrage of red mist flies from the lawyer’s back and he falls.

       The armed entourage escorting Ludlow takes aim and fire in my direction as the ringing continues. The protesters hit the ground in slow motion. Fear’s paralysis refuses to let me duck or dive away from the bullets. Then it happens, a tug on my clothes and a white-hot pain in my hip shatter the fear and I hit the ground sideways.
       
      The gloomy overcast sky stares down at me. Muffled screams and the ringing continue to fight for supremacy in my ears. The left side of my waist feels wet. I touch it and look at my palm to see it coated in red. My eyes shift from the horror show to see Gracie curled up in the fetal position with he hands grasping her stomach. Her figure becomes a blur and the sounds concede a stalemate. No winner of lose. Only silence.
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Hairaplenty
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« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2017, 02:18:31 AM »

Hi-
You've got some good stuff going on here. I like the voice, the main character, the present tense works fine as does the POV. At least, so far. I suggest slowing down. A whole lot happens in this first chapter. I'm not sure I get the significance of the the break-up. If the story is about this teacher, I'd lead with how they are heading to Atlanta to protest. She can make mention of the break-up, or have her think about missing Dirk. But, I think the story is about her wanting to write, and getting hurt. So minimize the break-up.
Also, toward the end: Slow down. Give us some sensory details, and get the reader on scene. This all happens so fast, I had to read it several times. The line: Fear's paralysis, etc-Had to read three times.
 and fire in my direction as the ringing continues. The protesters hit the ground in slow motion. Fear’s paralysis refuses to let me duck or dive away from the bullets. Then it happens, a tug on my clothes and a white-hot pain in my hip shatter the fear and I hit the ground sideways. Shorter sentences during a high action scene heighten the action. Try cutting some of these sentences-Add some groaning, moaning, smell of gunfire. Good luck. Thanks for the read.
       
      The gloomy overcast sky stares down at me. Muffled screams and the ringing continue to fight for supremacy in my ears. The left side of my waist feels wet. I touch it and look at my palm to see it coated in red. My eyes shift from the horror show to see Gracie curled up in the fetal position with he hands grasping her stomach. Her figure becomes a blur and the sounds concede a stalemate. No winner of lose. Only silence.
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BeCreativeBeInspired
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« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2017, 08:10:40 AM »

Hi, Hairaplenty

Cool name BTW, and thank you for your comments. I was considering shortening the sentences at the end just a few days ago, and now I definitely will. I'll also pass along your suggestions regarding the break-up scene to my critique partners and see what they say. Thanks again for the critique, and good luck with your writing, too!!!
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