As mentioned in yesterday’s post: this was a University assignment that I chose to publish without making any additional editing. Styles change and I know this piece does not reflect my writing as it is now. Still – it functioned as a step in the giant ladder I’m climbing to become an author – and every step is important. Another thing to note is that this style of writing is very different from what usually do. Mainly because the protagonist is female and so I had to capture that inner female voice. After drafting and re-drafting and asking my female friends time and time again it seems I finally succeeded in the end. Somewhat at least (I will discuss this in more detail further down).
Another differences, I would like to add, between the style used in this text, and that of my current style of writing, is mainly the structure of sentences. Nowadays I use shorter sentences that are often stitched together using commas (in other words, by using the improper way of the splice comma like I just did in this sentence to prove my point). This is to increase the pacing of the text by giving the reader a lot of impressions fast and in high numbers. Then there are things in this text I simply would not say. Can’t think of an example now but I found plenty while reading it.
I remember that the teacher liked it a lot. The main complaint she had was that the narrator is a female, and I am a male, and sometime she could tell that it was a man writing it and not a woman. My sister thought so as well (after reading it) so I guess two against one makes them right.
The only other criticism I got was regarding the overall plot of the novel (which was included when handing in the assignment). The teacher did not think the target audience (teenagers, young adults) would be satisfied with such a tragic and horrible ending as the one I intended. Not that it matters.
One last thing! This piece had a word limit on it so in order for me to end the chapter right where it does (I love ending in cliffhangers) I had to cut some scenes short – as you probably will notice.
Here it is! The first chapter of an untitled novel I will never finish. Enjoy!
The opening chapter of a novel (Prose)
”… and that’s how it was!” Jacob said as he finished his half hour long story that made no sense whatsoever. But I didn’t mind, anything he said was interesting… at least in my ears. Jacob was a strange character, if I may say so myself. He was one of the few, or maybe the only one of my childhood friends, that I still kept in touch with. That was probably because I was the only girl he could talk to without stuttering like a kid with Down’s syndrome on ecstasy. It was hard to believe when you looked at him; they should be the ones stuttering. But his fit body, sculptured faced, brown hair and brown eyes are not what should get him the girls’ attention, it was his humour and spirit. He is always the one who can cheer me up no matter what, and he always makes me laugh. Like now. He was desperately trying to tell a story no one understood. Yupp, that’s my Jacob.
“Sorry, I don’t… I don’t see your point at all.” Jenny was just as confused as I should have been. I guess I had been too busy being mesmerized by Jenny’s beauty that I didn’t really pay attention to Jacob’s story. But who can blame me? Jenny had gorgeous long brown hair with a few blonde highlights, the body I could only dream about having, and of course her flawless skin… and face… and hair… and everything! She was, in my eyes, the prettiest woman alive. But I was not alone in thinking that, it seemed like every guy on this planet thought so as well, which probably explains why she was always so busy going out with new “friends” all the time. The funny thing is that I had never actually seen her get close with a boy, except for when she punched them in the stomach or gave them bitch-slaps. I never really knew where I had her. It wouldn’t surprise me if she was still a virgin, but then again, she could also have slept with God-knows how many. Both statements were just as plausible. I really shouldn’t be calling myself her best friend without knowing all the details of her sex life, but it just never interested me.
“Really? Come on, I explained it so well!”
“No you didn’t.” Jenny shook her head and looked at me, eagerly waiting for my view on things.
“What she said” I nodded towards Jenny. There was a look of loss and defeat in Jacob’s eyes.
Don’t be like that. I just said it so missus ego wouldn’t hang me by the neck, I thought to myself in my own quiet personal space, which was penetrated by Jenny’s glare.
“What?” I asked her as if I didn’t know she was looking straight into my soul.
“You were thinking about something. Tell me.”
And that was when I realised Jenny knew me too well. In order to avoid confrontation I looked towards the fourth member of our little group, Christopher. He was a humble and gaunt being who always settled the arguments. The voice of reason, one might say. He could have been Jacob’s thin little brother. They had similar facial traits but Christopher’s hair was of a much brighter colour and his eyes were… Well, freaky to say the least. They radiated a glowing greenish colour as if they were highly radioactive. The funny thing is that no one besides us ever seemed to notice it. No one remembers when or how we got to know him. We just did – somehow.
There was no response from him. So I poked him a little and yelled at him.
He jumped up as if suddenly waking up from a trance.
“I’m sorry, what were you talking about?”
“You always seem so off nowadays. Are you sure there’s nothing bothering you?” I had never seen Jenny this concerned about someone before. I might have to agree that he had been a bit off lately, but everyone has their moments I guess.
“There’s nothing wrong. I was just thinking.”
“Thinking about what?”
“The structure of the universe. Life, the world, us, everything. It’s just – There’s so much I would like to know, yet I can’t help but feel…” Christopher left us silent for a while. Jacob was the one who finally dared to break it.
But Christopher was gone again, lost in his own thoughts.
“Wow,” Jenny motioned with her lips without uttering a sound.
Soon afterwards we all said goodbye and walked back home. My Mom was there to greet and bombard me with questions, as she always did when I escape her autocratic home for more than five minutes. She got the same response as always, a bit of mumbling about this and a bit of mumbling about that. My eyelids felt like… concrete. That’s how bad it was, and it did not take long before I was fast asleep. Now, if I was slightly sane, I would have tried to stay awake, since it was only five o’ clock; but I did not, which is why I woke up at 1 AM with no possible chance of ever going back to sleep. I cursed my own ability to fall for temptations and got dressed for a walk outside and hoped the cold and empty town would get make me sleepy.
It was only at night, when the feeling of stress and confinement from my pathetic life was long gone, that one could truly appreciate the beauty of this town. It was a town that always had a gentle wind that kindly embraced and protected you as you walked on the streets. It never rained or snowed, as if the town itself chose to be in some kind of harmony with the forces of nature. Strangely enough the trees and flowers always appeared to bloom, no matter what time of the year it was. My Mom said that is why the town always smelled of peace. Whenever she said that I couldn’t help but suspect she used to be a hippy, but now I realised what she meant, the smell of flowers that never wither seemed to rid the soul and mind of all burdens. But the smell was natural for this town that invoked tranquillity and serenity among its inhabitants. During the day there were only smiling faces and friendly tones everywhere. No one ever seemed angry or upset here. That might be an effect of the flowers. Who knows? And at night the perfect condition of the town was visible, every monument, every park, every bench, everything seemed brand new and free from scribbles and vandalism. These were the small details I noticed as I walked through the street in search of the sandman.
I had been walking for nearly half an hour when I first stopped because I saw him. Christopher sat on the roof of a large building with a rounded roof, as if the building itself was a segment cut out from a perfectly symmetrical circle. Even though I was quietly shouting his name he didn’t seem to react at all. Out of desperation, and fright of wakening someone if I yelled too loud, I grabbed a pebble from the ground and threw it at him. The first pebble missed… and so did the second and the third, but my fourth succeeded in getting his attention.
“Oh, Emily, hi! How are you?” He seemed surprised to see me there. No wonder, it was 2 AM by then.
“I’m fine I guess, but what are you doing up there this late Christopher?”
“Well, what are you doing down there yourself this late?” Point taken I thought and looked away.
“The stars are… magnificent.” Christopher said and looked up into the night sky with a dreaming look on his face.
“Yeah… Guess so.”
“To think that what we see is just an illusion of what used to be.”
“And that we can never in our lifetime, probably never in the span of humanity, see what those stars look like in the present.” I was more confused now than ever. Too confused to even ask what the hell he was talking about.
“Emily… If you had a calling in life, something you felt you had to do, no, something only you could do that would change the future, would you sacrifice everything to do that?”
“Erhm…” I unconsciously made a face as I struggled not to walk away and pretend this never happened.
“I’m sorry that I even asked. You could possibly never understand.”
“I think I could understand… Maybe… If you explained it to me sort of, ‘cause I’m not really sure what you’re talking about.” There was nothing that displeased me more than to acknowledge my own stupidity, though in this case I was not sure if I was the one being stupid.
“Never mind. I’m glad you passed by, you helped me put things in perspective again.”
“No problem I’m glad I could –“
“I might be late for school tomorrow. There’s something I need to check.”
“Check the structure and consistency of the world, in other words, the very foundation of reality itself.”
And here I thought it was impossible to feel intimidated by this guy.
“I will.” I said but there was no reply from him. All of a sudden it seemed as if he couldn’t see me anymore.
“Bye, see you tomorrow!” I waved him goodbye but I remained invisible to him so I left quickly without saying another word.
Christopher was right. He was late for school the next morning, which was understandable since we start at nine o’ clock. The hours went by and he was still not there by lunch when Jacob, Jenny and I gathered around our usual table with four seats.
“I’m starting to believe he really is sick, as in mentally, not ‘flu’ sick.”
Jenny seemed to agree with Jacob’s statement. I would normally say he just has a lot on his mind but after last night’s events I was not sure what to believe anymore. Did he hit his head somewhere or did he all of a sudden get overwhelmed by the mysteries of the universe? When I was asked if I had talked to him recently I lied and said “no,” because it seemed a lot easier than having to explain what happened the day before. As we were sitting there talking about our strange friend, a big hunk came to our table and stole Jenny away from us.
“He will be so upset when he never gets anything.” Jacob seemed confident.
“How do you know that? What if he does get something?”
“No, she wouldn’t. Would she?”
Jacob was just as mystified as me when it came to Jenny, and we soon left the topic.
“She will not do anything this time.”
I turned around expecting to see Christopher but he was nowhere to be seen.
“What’s wrong? Who are you looking for?”
“I thought… Christopher was talking to us right now, wasn’t he?”
“What? No, he’s not ever here.”
Jacob had confirmed the truth that I already knew but it was terrible to admit it was all in my mind. Hearing voices was not on my ‘to do’ list. Silence gripped hold of our conversation and we both sat quiet for a minute or two. I felt a lump in my throat, but I had to try and ask Jacob anyway.
“Hey, Jacob, would you like to…” I stopped, it was a moment of hesitation, but that single moment of silence was enough for him to answer his ringing phone that began to vibrate one second after I closed my mouth.
“Sorry for that, what did you want?” Jacob excused himself once he was done talking on the phone.
“Nothing.” I had been sucked dry of confidence and I figured I had to ask him some other day when I felt prepared again.
Jacob soon left me for some of his guy friends and I was completely alone. Class soon started again and Christopher was still not there. In fact, he never showed up that day. Neither did he the day after… Or the day after that… Or the day after that one. On the fourth day of waiting, however, we heard from him. Sort of.
“As of today Christopher is considered missing. The police have been searching for him for a few days now but it is not until now they ask you for your help. If you know anything about this, please call this number and share your information.” The teacher’s words seemed unreal and alien to me. At first it was as if my brain tried to fend of these ridiculous lies but when I saw his empty seat I felt the importance of the teacher’s words and what they meant. I would probably never see my friend alive again.
– F H Hakansson