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acid_rain_child
So, this is gonna take me an ass load of time to write/type, and it's going to be so long I doubt anyone will read it, but I don't care. I've been thinking about it for ages now, and I need it documented somewhere else but paper. Here we go.

Not Titled Yet (haven't actually written it)

My father took me out of school a year ago as soon as I turned 16. He told me that since I was going to take up the bed and breakfast, I wouldn't need to finish school anyway. I told him I wanted to go to college, but he said he'd teach me all I needed to know about keeping up the house, so why go to college. He didn't understand what I meant.

He owns a popular bed and breakfast, it's our house. We live in one of the last houses built down town before all the apartments started popping up, so it's big and it's old and tourists flock to it. We have 3 extra bedrooms (not including mine and my father's), 2 1/2 bathrooms and a beautiful dining area. $35 for one, $40 for two and $45 for three, have fun and enjoy your stay.

I do all of the cleaning and minor repair. He doesn't pay me very much, but that doesn't really matter because there's nothing for me to buy. I don't have any friends, or at least, no friends worth keeping when I left school, so there's no girls-night-out or spree shopping. I save all my money, waiting for a day when maybe I can sell the house and go away somewhere else.

Downtown is a dirty place. You can't swing a stick without hitting an addict or a homeless mother and her child. The streets are filthy, graffiti covers every thing but the old houses and the churches. Gunshots and car alarms go off every once in a while, but you get used to it and I hardly ever notice it anymore. Regardless, there are a lot of attractions for brave and curious tourists, who think our home is romantic, standing tall in all of the sh*t.

We're usually full and people have to set reservations at least week in advance to get a room on time. Not many motels or B&Bs are as nice as ours, and we're in high demand. Tomorrow the single mother and her two daughters will be leaving, and a young couple are coming in. Check the sheet. Ryan and Kathy Southwick. Aww.

It was around 4 p.m. I guess, and I had finished cleaning everyone's room. The mother with her daughters left the biggest mess, but all in all it was a decent day and everyone left me a tip this time. About this time every day I'll go into my own room and watch reruns and talk shows, but I needed to go to my father. I found him in his own room, emailing a future guest. His room was dark and small, but bigger than my room. It had one light, a swinging over head light, that was dimming and probably needed to be replaced. I never bothered with fixing his room though.

"Dad, I think I want to take tomorrow off. I haven't had off in over 3 months, and I want to get some fresh air. I'll call some friends or something, I need to get out of the house."

"Heh, you don't have any friends," he sounded extremely amused, "We're full for the next couple days. Ask me again in a week or two."

I wasn't about to argue. I left his room to go take apart the bed in the other, and slowly moved it piece by piece into my father's room. I wouldn't get off any time soon, I knew better.

In my room, around 6, I turned on the tube. More reruns of Friends. I wish I had cable. The TV was on a small desk at the end of my bed. My bed was up against the only window in my room, whose pane was peeling and lined black with mold. I had my window open to invite any breeze, and tried to stay awake through the canned laughter and the orange and purple sunset coming through my screen. Only 7 o'clock. Maybe you should eat dinner. Instead I lit a cigarette and stared out my window. The tree outside, planted in a 5X5 cement square, blocked most of the sun, but little orange rays still went through my window, in oddly mesmerizing flickers. 7:30, maybe you should just go to bed. I turned off the TV and closed my eyes.

The next morning I had to wake up at 8 to greet the Southwicks. They were nice enough people, but seemed way too happy to be alive. Ryan had his arm around his wife, Kathy nestled her head on her husband's shoulder and they giggled when they walked in.

"Hi, I'm Michelle, I'll be your maid for the next 4 days, and if you need anything, you're more than welcome to ask. All tourist information is in brochures in the dining room, if you're looking for fun. Let me take you on the tour," I greeted them and walked them around the house. They never left eachother's arms. To tell the truth, I envied them and their happiness. They must be newly weds, they must be in love.

"Okay, now all I need is for you to tell me when you'd like breakfast and what you'd like," I pulled out a small pad of paper. Breakfast at 9, french toast and eggs. Coffee and orange juice for both of them.

I walked them to their room and helped them set things up and told them how to work the TV and telephone. They thanked me profusely, but rushed me out of the room. They left at 9 to go out, and didn't come back until after I went to sleep. I was told by my father to wait up for them, but after 10 I decided to go to bed.

The next morning niether Ryan or Kathy came down for breakfast. By noon I figured they had left earlier and had left without telling me. I knocked on their door, and when I got no answer, I unlocked it.

The room was a wreck, and I didn't have to think too hard to figure what they had been doing last night. Kathy's clothes were all over the floor, Ryan's were crumpled in a pile next to the bed. Their bags were left open, and the cabinets were full of their junk, they had even filled the closet. To my surprise, Kathy was still in bed. Also to my surprise, she was fully dressed in pajamas. She had an eye mask on, knocked sideways from sleeping on her side. She breathed in a heavy, steady rythym, I knew she was really asleep.

Normally I would've left and checked in another hour or two, but I was curious. What did lovers do? I tiptoed to a desk, where Kathy's pink purse was open and spilling out the contents. Her wallet, a couple tampons, some mascara and dark red lipstick. Heh, she takes sleeping pills. No wonder she's out like a light. I took the sleeping pills out and read the bottle. It was almost full. I got a horrible idea then, shaking the bottle. I grabbed the lipstick and went over to the full length mirror. Ryan taped a note: Gone out to get you a present, wait for me here. Back soon, love you - Ryan

I took the note and stuck it in my pocket. I uncapped the lipstick and threw the top on the floor. You're wrong, stop it, you're wrong. I was scared. My hand started to shake, and I could feel sweat rickling on my feet and on my scalp. Still, I couldn't stop myself. On the mirror I wrote:
Kathy,
It's not your fault, but I had to do it. Even in death I will love you, and one day we'll be together again. -Ryan

Is that convincing? Not really. I heard Kathy stir and groan. Hide in the closet. I ran to the closet and shut myself inside. Through the slits of wood I watched Kathy. For a couple minutes, nothing happened. Then, just when I decided to try and sit down, she rolled on her back and with one hand ripped the eye mask off. She sat up and blinked, looking around for her husband. Not seeing him, she gave a confused look and got out of bed, walking to her purse. She took out her brush and mascara, and dug around for a couple of seconds. Shit, I've still got the lipstick. I looked down, In my right hand I gripped the lipstick tightly.

Kathy, utterly confused now, spun around to the mirror. I didn't see her face, but I saw her walk slowly to the mirror, close enough to read. I think she must've read it two or three times because she staye in front of the mirror for too long. My stomach got cold, my breath was sharp. What have you done? First, she dropped the brush and mascara, then she gave out a little wimpering shreik. When she turned around, I saw that she was red in the face, but not angry, more about to cry. She went to the chair next to the mirror, sat down for about 5 seconds, and then suddenly stood up, knocking the chair down, and ran out the door.

I waited a couple seconds before I walked out after her. I found her downstairs, yelling my name in a crackled voice. I walked down after her.

"Oh my God, Michelle, where is Ryan?! Where did he go, did you see him?" She ran her hand through her hair and then with both hands grabbed my shoulders. I couldn't do anything but stare at her. Tell her it was you. Tell her he left earlier this morning. Her eyes were bloodshot, tears were coming out fast.

"Where is he? Where did he go? Where did he go this morning? Did you see him leave? Is he still here? Michelle?!" Her lip started to quiver, and she broke into a coughing bawl. Slowly she slid down my arms and onto her knees. I don't think she realized I wasn't talking.

Do something. Look at her. She's dying. You're killing this woman! You're killing her!

"I did it," I said quietly. She didn't stop crying. She didn't even look up at me. Staring at the wall in front of me, I said it as loud as I could muster. "I did it."

This made her look up. She bit her purple bottom lip and knotted her brow at me. "What?"

"I wrote on the mirror." I showed her the lipstick tube in my hand.

At first she didn't quite understand. She looked from the lipstick to me, and then back to the lipstick. But when she looked at me the second time, she was not confused. She stood up, jerking my arms to help her.

"You wrote that on the mirror?!" she screamed, not letting go of my forearms, but squeezing harder. Her face softened slightly and she started to breathe again. "What the hell is the matter with you?" she let go of my arms. She backed away about a foot and bit her lip again, shaking her head. "What the hell... is the matter with you?" She covered her mouth with her hand so I could only see her pained eyes. I dropped the lipstick.

"I don't know," I said so solftly and quietly that thwe words were broken and I doubt she understood. You're wicked. You're sick. Go away. I ran upstairs.

I went into Kathy's room again. I grabbed the sleeping pills and went back downstairs. I don't know where Kathy went, but she wasn't there. Maybe she just left. I didn't care though. I went into the kitchen. There, I filled a glass with water and opened the bottle. Dozens of white pills poured into my couped hand. I swallowed the whole bottle in three gulps. Taking out my pack, I lit a cigarette on the front burner. Next, I went to the silverware drawer. I pulled it open and took the biggest knife. I went over to the sink, and first with my left hand cut my right wrist and forearm, then, with my shivering right hand, I took to my left wrist. They weren't vicious strokes. Slow and soft. It was like a pencil to my skin, lines of blood trailed and dripped after the knife. It din't even hurt as much as I would've thought. It was just cold at first... drawing cold, red lines on my skin. When I was done, I turned around to look at the floor. I got dizzy and had to steady myself on the counter, but got my balance back, and with the cigarette in my mouth, I laid down on the floor and waited for something to happen.
porcelainwarrior
What happened? That's mean, I was reading tongue.gif Is there more? Or are you still writing it? I like the story so far smile.gif
acid_rain_child
sorry, I accidently hit the post button. I do believe I'll change the ending though. I dunno, or add more of a reason for her. It's a first draft, so I'm not sweatin' it.
Aislinn Faye
ohh.. I do like it. I think you're sick and twisted tongue.gif ... but I like it
PsychWardMike
Let's do this, shall we?

To start, I have to talk about the narrative style. Not only did t not suit my fancy, but it didn't work at all You wrote this as a conversations, not a story. I would say that you need to correct that... problem is is that to fix that problem would involve scrapping the story and rewriting it from the ground up. I can't stress this enough - you need to make your speech between characters more natural. No one speaks like that in a moment of grief. Do what you will though. *shrug* Whatever.

That brings us back to the story itself. You spent a lot of time trying to set up the poor oppressed girl. It really comes off as boring and you started to lose me to an overwhelming urge to sleep.

Your characters are also underdeveloped and one dimensional. They have no motives at all. Your girl Michelle does that for absolutely no reason. She's not portrayed as insane in the story (until the end... that's for later) so that means that you can't have her run around willy nilly doing horrible unspeakable things. These people didn't do anything to her, and nothing happened to her after the kathy woman was done shaking her... why did she kill herself? It doesn't make sense.

The end is weak. There's no real way to say it other than that. She kills herself. Big deal. She took the bottle of pills anyway - that would kill her the wrist slitting was completely superfluous.

One last thing that should have probably been in the first paragraph - your sentence structure is boring. It needs more variation... simple sentence after simple sentence is incredibly sleep inducing. There are lots of different types of sentences out there. Try them out.

Um... other than that, it wasn't horrible. There needs to be more attention to the events with Kathy and Ryan, though. It's over too quickly, espescially after the build up in the beginning.

Um... yeah.
The Bobster
ARC, I think you indicated that you'd hit the post button sooner than you intended. I'd like to see what further you intend for these people. For instance, although it's been tried before, all kinds of questions are going begging when you have a first-person narrator dying in the last paragraph - unless you are going for something outside the expected realist mode - and so I'm sort of assuming the suicide attempt was not successful.

(Circumstances support that: she will be found very quickly and brought to a hospital, and self-inflicted knife wounds are very common in emergency rooms, so they will know what to do; we don't know what kind of sleeping pills they are and probably she doesn't either, so she probably didn't take enough or will vomit them very quickly ... usually, suicide needs to be planned more carefully than this if it is going to work.)

I don't agree with every bit of PWM's assessment, partly because we are looking at very much a first draft, right? People tend to make too much of character development, acting as if it were the be all and end all of any piece of fiction - especially in a short story, many other things are at least as important and often more so. Things like mood, description of locations, the particular auctorial voice you've chosen, just as a few for intances. This is just my opinion - nearly everyone will tell you differtently, I think.

I didn't find the set up as boring as Mike did, I think, and I was impressed with the economy of the telling of it, but a really good thing to to think about would be to try to incorporate more of the exposition into actual scenes. Have people talking and interacting and if the narrator needs to explain things have her do it in short little asides scattered between dialogue or action. The first real scene you have is the conversation with the father as he's writing email. Put that at the very start of the story.

There are a lot of things to like in what we see here. The character strikes me as an interesting person inhabiting a less-than-interesting world, and she was bound to do something eventually to rectify that imbalance. Perhaps being refused a day off by her father catapulted her into this? She doesn't know why she commits the act against the Ryans that she does - this action of hers is far more interesting than the suicide at the end, by the way, and far more important to who she is - and it would be intriguing to find a way to give the reader some clues about her which she herself has not yet figured out about herself - it's a tricky thing to pull off, but it's one of the more interesting uses of the first-person narrator for any writer who is ambitious enough to try it.

Thanks for sharing, and the example has given me a nudge to pull some things out of the drawer and perhaps I'll share them here as well.
Fallen Element
hello! i really liked the story ARC! twas very good! i dun wanna be too critical but if you had written less about michelle and more about the Ryans then it would have been super!

really good for a first draft though, and can't wait to find out what happens to Michelle next!

*waits in anticipation*

Love 'n' hugs

Fal xXx
acid_rain_child
QUOTE (The Bobster @ Jul 12 2004, 10:37 PM)
ARC, I think you indicated that you'd hit the post button sooner than you intended. I'd like to see what further you intend for these people. For instance, although it's been tried before, all kinds of questions are going begging when you have a first-person narrator dying in the last paragraph - unless you are going for something outside the expected realist mode - and so I'm sort of assuming the suicide attempt was not successful.

Oh, no, I'm sorry. Um, when I was first typing, I went to the bathroom, and when I came back, I accidently hit the post button about midway through typing it. That's the end. Though, Aislinn and I chatted a bit, and she informed me you can't OD on sleeping pills anymore blink.gif Who knew? *Obviously Sam did, but whatever...*

Aislinn (Sam) asked me what happened to Michelle. Honestly, in a way I want to make it clear that she dies. She's miserable, depressed, and a little psychotic (a trait I feel I didn't build enough on), and until her father dies, she feels obligated to stay, even if she wants to leave with every fiber of her being (another thing I didn't add. Hey, it was a first draft!).

But, in another way, I hope she lives. She'd have to live with herself and her father, but at least while you're alive you still have a chance to turn around. I dunno, it's something I'm debating.

There's an ending I've been contemplating where she is about to try to commit suicide, but decides against it. Even if she hates being there, she still loves her father, who must be just as miserable and lonely as she is.
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