Author Topic: Opening for Women's Lit/General Literature  (Read 435 times)

Offline meganden

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Opening for Women's Lit/General Literature
« on: May 17, 2022, 06:17:46 PM »
 This is the first five pages of a Women's Lit novel I've been working on for some time. I'm trying to figure out how to get the story Dinah is telling told not only for the reader but for her friends who are listening. It's the biggest chunk of the 90k manuscript that I am struggling with most.
         The End of First Semester: Junior Year
Rolling blackouts at Hayden University were inevitable and handled quickly and effectively. If they occurred during class, professors would suggest finishing class in the dark or outside under one of the distinguished oak trees in the quad. More often than not, the blackouts occurred scheduled. Those who attended Hayden and weren’t from California adjusted to the blackouts and drought. College students were malleable, and those who could not adapt simply returned to their home state promptly or complained about it each time they called home.

“Should we tell scary stories? Full warning, most of my stories will be stolen from Are You Afraid of the Dark or Goosebumps.” Harry said, sitting cross-legged on Nicole’s bed and holding her hand in his lap.

“We should tell everyone something we’ve told no one before. It will be like therapy.” Ida suggested. If anyone was rolling their eyes, she couldn’t see it.

“Or whatever. I guess I could call my actual therapist for that,” Ida added.

Hazel spoke up. “We don’t have to. “

Teddy said, “I got nothing interesting.”

“I didn’t take the SATs, but I paid someone to do it. My agent wrote my essay for Hayden. I probably could have gone somewhere better, but that bitch didn’t believe I could do it and there’s no way her essays would get me into an Ivy League,” Ida said.

“I have something but it’s bad,” Dinah whispered.

Dinah had barely spoken all night. Her friends attempted to cheer her up with little success. Hazel noticed the bottle of Jack Daniels that was being passed around had stayed next to Dinah and was now nearly empty. Dinah didn’t drink often, but something was different about her that night.
“I’ll tell you what I wrote for my essay. You can’t tell anyone, though. Not that it matters. What was the biggest challenge you have faced in your life so far? I’m not sure if you guys did the same question.”
“Mine was probably not being cast as Marisa on The OC. I know Mischa Barton and she’s not great.” Ida said before everyone in the room glared at her.
“Sorry, Dinah. Please continue.”
Dinah did, “My biggest challenge was making it to the point of applying for college. It was the night I lost my sister, my friend, I lost my sense of security, and I nearly lost my life.”
“What?” Nicole said and immediately scolded herself for speaking in the moment of silence. The room was thick with confusion and discomfort.
Dinah went on, “Every fourth of July weekend, my family went to our family cabin in Lake Milnyanka. It was a cabin my great-grandfather built and our entire extended family shared.
Somehow, we managed to not only have the cabin for the coveted Independence Day weekend, but I was ecstatic to discover that my parents had planned on arriving on the 4th, allowing my sister, Jessica, and me to have the cabin for ourselves and a friend or two. I was sixteen, and Jessica was nineteen. Jessica had been on the fence about the trip. She had just finished her sophomore year at Wellesley and wanted to spend time with her new boyfriend, Zack.

“Zack was interning at a law office in Boston and had planned for Jessica to travel from Michigan to Boston and stay with him at his friend’s loft. Zack grew up in Boston and once he had one too many drinks and things got heated, you could hear his thick Boston accent. I begged my sister to meet up with Zack later in the week and spend time at the cabin with me. Our parents would only allow me to get there before them if she was with me. Jessica didn’t want to go.”
Dinah shook away the memory, “I knew that”. She sucked in a breath. “I knew that which makes everything that happened after so much worse.”
Dinah continued, “She wanted to be a good big sister. She wanted me to know she would do anything to make me happy, and part of me assumed she had decided because she and Zack weren’t getting along.
Zack was possessive, but that may have been from my jealous perception. I always wanted to be like Jessica. She was kind and good. She had the kind of intelligence that isn’t taught in school. She had decent grades but cared more about her music. For as long as I could remember, Jessica wanted to write songs for famous people. She had an exceptional voice herself and could play guitar, violin, piano, and drums. She was also the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. When I was twelve, I noticed Jessica wearing makeup for special occasions. She looked like a movie star. I was never jealous of Jessica, or even envious of who she was so effortlessly. But I was jealous of Zack and all the time in Jessica’s life he consumed.
Jessica and I arrived at the cabin before 9 am that day. We wanted to get there early so we wouldn’t become too lazy on our arrival. Jessica showed me the necklace Zack gave her. It was a ruby, her birthstone. We spent that morning settling into our rooms. We would have to bunk together once our parents arrived, so we didn’t completely unpack. Instead, we dressed in our bathing suits and walked down to the lake. The humidity had been torturous that day. It was something I always managed to forget when we were back at home. We were both sweating hard by the time we reached the lake. We practically flopped into the water to cool off. We splashed around and competed over silly things like who dares to jump off the tree into the lake? There were times we both laughed so hard, the water on our faces sucked into our mouths and nose and I swear I thought I would pass out with how much air I was forcing out my lungs after Jessica incited my fits of laughter.
Jessica and I hadn’t noticed the man from behind the tree right away. I don’t know how long he had been standing there staring at us. I couldn’t see him well because the sun had moved enough that he was only a shadow, but a tall shadow. He was also wearing a baseball hat and some sort of tie-dye shirt. Hours later, I would discover the chaotic shapes on the man’s shirt was not dye, it was dried blood. Once Jessica caught sight of the man, her face changed immediately. We went from giggling teenagers without a care in the world to prey.
 I supposed many women feel this regularly, whether or not it was necessary. Jessica was strong and athletic. In high school, she played not only music, she was also on the track team, soccer team, and swim team. There wasn’t anything Jessica couldn’t do and if there was, she would fix that right quick. She was powerful, but that afternoon, she crumpled into powerlessness.

Jessica whispered to me something about our clothes. We each had a shirt and a pair of shorts in our pile of stuff. That was also where Jessica had put her new cell phone. There seemed to be a telepathic conversation between us because we somehow worked together and slowly swam away from the man. We got out of the water and began walking toward town.
We didn’t want to go back to the cabin because the man might follow us. We stopped in at a gas station. The man asked where our shoes were. He failed to be concerned about us wearing nothing more than bikinis. We explained our story, and the man chuckled, telling us that was probably Jared. Jared was just a local farmer’s son. He wasn’t dangerous, just socially odd. He doesn’t have a problem openly ogling women who swim in the lake. It did not completely satisfy us with this explanation. Whether he was dangerous to the attendant was irrelevant. He wasn’t the one being watched.

When we returned to the spot, we had left our stuff. Sure enough, Jared was gone. Our clothes appeared untouched, and he had not taken Jessica’s driver’s license or cell phone. Unfortunately, my school ID was missing. Rather than make too much of it, I didn’t even tell Jessica about it. Forgetfulness and losing stuff were qualities my parents would use to describe me. When we returned to the cabin, there was a car in the dirt driveway. My heart raced, but Jessica just screamed joyfully. It was Zack. I didn’t know Zack well, though my sister talked about him enough that I felt like I knew him enough. It wasn’t the time for me to welcome him into our family just yet. He was butting in on our sister bonding time and it infuriated me.
Rather than greeting Zack, I pouted and walked directly into the house, slamming the door behind me. My petulance was on overload that afternoon. I flopped onto my bed while listening to Jessica and Zack outside. They were both deliriously happy to be there together. It went from sisters enjoying their family cabin and reconnecting to a faux honeymoon for Jessica and her pre-law boyfriend. I sulked for longer than I’d like to admit.
After speaking to Zack, or rather, allowing Zack to speak to me while Jessica got ready for their dinner date, I concluded Zack was nice enough. He didn’t have plans to marry Jessica, or at least soon. I’m not sure why he thought I didn’t want him around. He explained he had an older brother and was always angry when his brother would bring his girlfriend to the house. It was all about Chelsea, and Zack’s brother had no time for him.

When Jessica came out, she was wearing an angelic golden sundress. Her tan skin and beachy blonde tresses made up the rest of the look. She was truly stunning that late afternoon. The two asked me to come with them to the seafood restaurant they found. I went to my room to make sure I brought something I could wear to a nice restaurant but noticed something else. My school ID was sitting on my bed.

« Last Edit: June 16, 2022, 04:09:22 PM by meganden »