Friday, February 25, 2011
Just a peek...
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Yikes, sorry for that bit of ugliness but seeing as this piece is currently under review it was a mayjah must.
In an earlier post (Stay Close to Your Phone and Closer to Your Email) I wrote about being contacted by a literary agency regarding representation of a manuscript that was basically collecting dust and totally fogotten about. While the word is still mum, it drives me crazy that the work sits behind locked file folders. Here is a little sneek into the manuscript, for protective purposes (sorry!)the title,plots/subplots and synopsis are not being posted but always feel free to comment, send feedback. It all helps because even editors miss something here and there.
A warm hand stroked the back of her head; that much she could feel. Her body lay motionless on top of a million shattered pieces of broken windshield beginning to stain crimson from the blood spilling from her body. It felt like a terrible dream that and she could not wake, only she was awake and could barely see her surroundings. The skin above her eyes felt heavy and the pressure began to ache, they were swollen shut. Where was she, what had happened? Had she slipped into some kind of purgatory? There was a chill so she knew hell was not near.
Attempting to turn her head and make sure she was still alive; a simmering voice through the distance called out to her. “Stay still, the ambulance is coming.”
God she was still alive, a small glimmer of hope began to spread through her veins but ceased as it reached the tightness in her chest. Strands of hair she had straightened less than a half an hour before had become saturated with blood, her own blood and it was beginning to dry at the ends causing it to stick to the littered pavement. Through the slits of her eyes she is able to see a dark figure, but the pain of keeping them open is unbearable and they quickly drift shut. The dark figure pushes a lock of her now crusted hair behind her ear.
There is a spark in the back of her eyes and she is suddenly terrified that she will die on the warming pavement in the arms of an unknown person, scared she will die alone. An odd sense of terror clouds her mind when the only sounds that penetrate her crippled ears are coming from the slowing beat of her heart and the labored breathing expelling from her rapidly filling lungs. Fearing this is the end she feels as though she has failed herself and cannot figure a way to repent for her shortcomings. For a moment she thinks of all of the regret she swore would never be present in her lifetime. She thought of the lives she had injured including her own caused by denial, there was a small part inside of her that wanted to let go of all of that anger, to move on, she wished she would have taken the call the evening before. As the sun beats down and her body cools she knows she has failed.
Her body was getting cold but the heat from the dark figure next to her kept it warm and the panic melted away as lifetimes began to pass. These streets came with no guarantees and had always offered comfort as she walked down them. A moist tear escapes the corner of one swollen eye, sliding down through the open scrapes of her face, hydrating the crisp edges of the cuts. She releases an unsteady breath. Somewhere behind her, a shrieking sound echoes as it draws near, the sound jolting her and she again felt the cold rush sweep over her body.
The dark figure that had minutes before kept her warm was gone and a different shape took its place. A scream escaped her lips as she was lifted from her precarious position on the pavement and carefully placed on some kind of stiff board. A thousand thoughts rushed to her mind, regrets she wished she could take back. Resentment she wished she could resolve. Pleading to god in her head, she asked to be spared. She wasn’t ready to die, there was too much at stake.
The morning was already starting to be a mess. She’d known from the minute the alarm went off that this was the best time to do this sort of thing, or so said the instructions that were written for the common idiot but made Anna Karenina seem like a piece of cake. Something about high concentration of hCG, was that a hormone? She should know the answer, from Health Class or was it Biology? At this point she didn’t much care. A young girl of fifteen sat on the edge of the small white corner bathtub in a very drab bathroom suited for an upscale boutique hotel rather than two absentminded teenagers who held no appreciation for fashionable living and preferred blue over pink. Both of her knobby knees touched with each leg stretched out in an awkward position, she was nervous as ever but had nowhere to hide. One of her elbows rested on a knee and dangled the other hand at her side, her eyes fixated on a single piece of plastic that sat like a ticking time bomb near the sink.
Ashley’s heart raced and she forced herself to close her eyes to ease the suspense, god this was so stupid, why did three minutes feel like an eternity? She could have taken those three minutes to go downstairs and fill a bowl with some cereal, tossed in some milk and savored the sugary texture that would rot her teeth in five or six years filling her mouth with cavities and worn down enamel. Taking a deep breath she raised her head only to have a curly lock of hair the color of maple syrup fall over her black metallic shadowed eye. The makeup was still drying and a few stray strands stuck to the lid. Since there was no clock in the bathroom and often because of it, made her late for catching the bus, she stretched over to check the time from the adjoining doorway that led into her room and squinted through the strands of hair. One more minute.
She toyed with the toilet seat covering, had she remembered to place the result window up? She desperately wanted to look over at the test but held off. What was the trouble in waiting one more minute, even if it did last a lifetime. A loud bang interrupted her thoughts, startling her from her delicate perch on the bathtub; she immediately fell backwards and reached out and clung to the lid of the toilet. Her pale face flushed, heat filling her cheeks with the scare and a roaring voice of a young boy followed the bang.
“Hurry up. You’re taking forever!”
Every ounce of frustration over someone who’d been locked out of the bathroom for longer than twenty minutes dripped from his tone. She stood up only to push down her silver top and twist the ties so that they would fall at her sides and spoke in the direction of the closed door.
“Lay off Miles; just give me a minute will you?”
The boy let out a large grunt clearly not ready to give up a fight and banged louder. The tension began to rise and her shoulders bunched. Her voice dropped dangerously low; resting her forehead against the door she said, “I swear, if you bang one more time I’ll tell Dad exactly how you snuck out of your room on Saturday. Don’t think I didn’t hear you.”
Taking the hint for fear of their father’s wrath, Miles stopped banging, speaking quickly to her before walking off.
“I didn’t go anywhere. You don’t know anything.”
“Oh really, why don’t you tell Dana Adamson to stop running her mouth then.”
“It wasn’t Dana you idiot it was Jackie, so don’t even-“He stopped talking, realizing that she hadn’t known anything at all and gotten the truth out of him. “You’re such a brat, what’s wrong with you today?”
Her mouth curled into a wicked smile, he was too easy. The relationship she had with her brother always seemed to be something of the unexpected. With one year separating the two, she being the eldest they got along impressively apart from the morning cat calls out of the bathroom that they shared. Both became accustomed to seeing each other daily at school and outside activities and even shared some of the same friends. It would not come to a surprise to her if they’d share a few classes once Miles made it to high school. But that was not for another year and she was not quite ready to leave the small space just yet regardless of his early morning yelling antics.
Ashley turned back to look at herself in the mirror avoiding the plastic piece of doom just in front of her. Wait, what how much time had passed? She twisted to the door frame and looked at the clock. Oh god, this was it. Taking a deep but shaky breath, she walked closer to the free standing sink.
The bathroom was horrid and pretentious, when her parents were going through their “rough spell” as they’d told both her and Miles a couple of years ago they decided to re-structure the house so that it would feel more like a sanctuary. Sanctuary for whom? Every time she walked into the bathroom she felt like she was transported into a post modernistic pile of garbage, with the lifted glass sink that always splashed water over the rim to the black and white tiles that were placed on the walls behind the toilet.
It was hideous and out of sorts, but then again it was a bathroom and right now it was her locked bathroom. Her temporary sanctuary. For a moment she stood and looked at herself in the mirror trying to push out a fake smile only being able to manage a half crooked look of fear instead. Looking straight into her eyes, there was an urgency to search for her soul she could not deny. Trying to be convincing she kept repeating to herself that everything was going to be alright, just because she happened to get a little cotton mouthed yesterday and had to rush to the bathroom after being passed by a greasy slab of pizza in the cafeteria gave her the urge to throw up. It could have been anything.
A thousand excuses passed through her but none of them seemed all that persuasive of swaying her doubts. She could blame food poisoning. Yes, definitely food poisoning. She should be thankful she threw up her lunch, she didn’t have to worry about feeling guilty when telling her friends she had a couple of pieces of bread even if it was rye and a candy bar that she’d found in the back of her locker that must have fallen out of one of her bags, only she had enjoyed her sandwich, savored the candy and hated ever having to defend eating whatever she wanted because she had a naturally thin body structure.
Maybe it was a flu bug; that could have been it too. No, that definitely could not have been it, she felt fine as soon as she threw up her lunch so the flu was out of the running. She stuck with food poisoning, but knew with a missed period that came like clockwork, it wasn’t. Hoping for the best, but thinking of the worst she reached for the test.
“Oh my god.” The words left her mouth in a breathless gasp. In the window of the pregnancy stick a small plus sign as bright as the pink curtains in her room appeared. Suddenly her mind was free of any thoughts of being sick, like a black hole they had been consumed by the likes of an at home pregnancy kit. Her hand lowered to her side and she dropped the test to the floor. With her quivering mouth falling open, her knees began to buckle and she did not try to force herself to stand as she sank down onto the floor. Uneasiness crept up her spine and settled onto the hairs on the back of her neck. Pulling her knees up to her chest she held them together, cradling her body from what she feared most.
What was she going to do? Her breathing quickened and sweat started to bead at the top of her forehead. This did not happen to girls like her. Girls that were raised by somewhat loving parents who fought more than they said I love you but they still loved each other. Someone who was raised in a functional household that was financially stable and the floorboards weren’t popping out, but there was in fact a tile missing in one of the bathrooms. How could this have happened?
She had known how this could have happened but that did not stop her from screaming that out loud in her mind. Questions raced through her, filled with rage and fear. She couldn’t believe it, all it took was an end of the summer party where a much older guy with magnetic eyes had made her laugh and feel pretty. After taking a couple of shots of vodka stolen from the liquor cabinet at whoever’s house they were in and feeling all too warm and fuzzy cuddled up with the him on a couch.
She found herself being whisked away in his pickup truck; they talked about some of their friends and nervously laughed when he mentioned being pushed into an unheated pool the day before. However, things got hot and heated all too quickly as soon as they parked on the edge of Ty Warner Park when she noticed the way he was looking at her. Never in her wildest dreams did she ever think she’d lose her virginity in a beat up 1996 red Ford F150 with ripped grey leather seats.
There was nothing romantic about the whole thing, her eyes darted from the interior of the car to the automatic sprinklers that seemed to have malfunctioned near the entrance and focused on the number of spurts each head made while they were parked. The seats in the cab were uncomfortably cold despite the muggy temperatures outside and her skin kept sticking to the leather. He was too fast and clumsy and it was over before it even began. Fashion magazine articles on sexual advances were no stranger to her, and she couldn’t help but think that they weren’t quite so honest nor helpful despite her alcohol induced confidence but once he finished his five minutes of glory, he gave the ignition a hard start and sped back to drop her off at the party. She felt like a whore, she was his dirty virgin whore that night and no thanks to that quick and distasteful romp she was now a bonafide knocked up teenage statistic.