A Chapter by JayG

Zack has come to the desert seeking a quiet place to die. Ada has been left there to die. With no hope and no future, has there ever been a less likely pair to go Starfaring?


It took a long time for the noise to attract Zack’s attention"even longer to resolve itself into anything meaningful.

“Mr. O’Neil? Mr. O’Neil? Can you hear me?”

He was still alive. Not a happy surprise.

Disoriented, he gathered his flickering consciousness together and opened his eyes. As he’d feared, he was surrounded by a variety of high-tech appliances. The overpowering smell of antiseptics placed him in a hospital.

A face appeared in his line of sight"a professionally cheerful face.

“You had us worried for a while, Mr. O’Neil, but you’re doing fine, now.”

When he only stared in reply she patted his shoulder and said, “Just rest. You’ll feel better when you wake up again.” It seemed particularly stupid of her to wake him only to tell him to go back to sleep. But the effort of thinking was too great to sustain, so he let go of wakefulness and fell back into drugged slumber.


°  °  °


She was an exceedingly plain woman. Her white coat had Psychiatric Services stitched on the breast, and Zack assumed she’d gone into psychiatric practice as a form of revenge against an unkind world. She dragged a chair close to the bed, losing little time in diplomacy.

“They tell me you’re refusing your meds, and won’t eat. Why is that?”

He studied her for a few seconds before shaking his head. “You didn’t do me a favor by bringing me back when my heart stopped.”

“Why not, Mr. O’Neil?” She showed no reaction to his words.

How like a psychiatrist. Never say what you think, just ask questions that make the patient say it for you. But two could play at that, so he answered with a question of his own. “What do I have to live for?”

Before she could answer he snapped, “And don’t ask me trick questions, lady. Just give me an answer. I’m old…I feel like s**t…and I’m not in the mood for games.”

That rated a raised eyebrow, and, “At least tell me why you want to die, Mr. O’Neil, so I have something to work with.”

“I don’t want to die. But when my heart gave out it was my time. It still is. I don’t have a reason to live, and that’s not the same thing as wanting to die.”


“No…it’s not.” In spite of himself, she’d drawn him into discussing his reasons for refusing food and medication. But what else was there to do but talk to her or stare at the ceiling? He blew out a breath in resignation. She would have her way after all.

“Believe me, Doctor, I’m not suicidal, I just don’t have anything to live for. I’ve been waiting to die for nearly a year"since they told me my heart wasn’t repairable"but then, when my time was finally up, you people stepped in and took it away from me.”

At his use of the term, “you people,” she unbent enough to say, “I’m Dr. Malvern, Mr. O’Neil. Clarice Malvern.” She still sat ramrod straight on the edge of her chair.

Telling her to go to hell was an option, but in the end protests were futile. The drugs were added to the bags that dripped nourishment into his arms"rendering his defiance symbolic, only. And it made little sense to do battle with the woman.

“I’ve lived nearly seventy years, Doctor, and I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do. I built a successful business three separate times, once out of boredom after I retired. I’m still bored. More so, since my wife died.” He glanced over at the doctor, to find her leaning forward, interest in what he said apparent. Deciding for the hundredth time to stop judging people by appearances, he went on.

“Amanda was both my wife and best friend. Without her there’s no one and I’m just coasting.”

“Friends?” she offered. “Children? Business? Surely there’s someone?”

That brought a long sigh. “No. We had no children, I’ve sold my business, and there’s no family left that matters.”

He shifted in the bed, easing himself into a less uncomfortable position before saying. “I have friends, doctor. I’m just tired, and it’s far too late to think of starting a new life.”

His voice was empty as he said, “It doesn’t matter, though. No matter what you’ve done, I have a bad heart, and unless you were stupid enough to give me a transplant, it’s still a bad heart.”


Dr. Malvern studied the man on the bed. He was stronger than he thought. His medical history, other than his heart problems, was unblemished. It was his state of mind that worried her. Still, this wasn’t a good time to tell him he no longer had a heart.


© 2016 JayG

Author's Note

People have asked me to post a sample of my writing. And since Starlight is something I just released—and believe to be section the best work I've done—here's the opening. If it does its job you'll have no choice but to go to Amazon to read the rest of the chapter in the excerpt. If it doesn't you can tell me what kicked you out of the story. And that will help.

My Review

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Thats an interesting opening. I enjoyed reading it and it kept me thinking what next? What is the story about?

Posted 4 Months Ago

Thank you for the clarification. Yes, the scene is in a hospital room. The chapter is fine.

I just thought, maybe in future scenes, placing some wording that would connect his actual medical condition when he talked.
To say, “despite the drug’s effect he managed to stipulate…”
“He was regaining strength and handled to express his desire...”
“His amazing recovering gave his valor a commanded…”

His replies and indications sounded lucid, I didn’t hear a patient with a heart problem, even though he was in a hospital.

Nevertheless, your chapter is fine, I will read it again. Moreover, the chapter is interesting, “no heart” that is a great hook to make the audience want to read more.

Posted 5 Months Ago

Mr. JayG
Read your dialogue again, I think the person talking over there does not sound like a patient, nor someone just reluctant to continue. The conversation is drastically opposite. I perceive two people talking in an office or at a table facing each other.
It sounds like it may be a good story, nonetheless, check it out.

Posted 5 Months Ago


5 Months Ago

• I perceive two people talking in an office or at a table facing each other.

In a.. read more
To everyone who commented, thank you. It is greatly appreciated. And to those who said they would like to read more... The response was good enough that Starlight is on Amazon, B&N, and the iBook store. And, if you have an Amazon Prime account, it's free. And free is always good.

Posted 5 Months Ago

Wow, this is very enticing, I loved it!

Posted 5 Months Ago

Actually, I can answer those questions, in a fashion. Starlight Dancing has been released and is available on Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes and Nobel

Posted 5 Months Ago

I'm hooked! In the past, I may not have grabbed this book off the shelf, but I'm so intrigued. I want to know more about this man, what his life was like, how things will be up to the point where he finally dies. Will his heart give him another big problem that ends fatally? Will he regularly see Dr. Malvern? Will he come to grudgingly rely on her? Will she change his mind about life or will she instead come to understand or even agree with his reasoning? Ohhh I'm so interested in this!
(And of course, I don't expect you to outright answer these questions, these are just my thoughts on the story so far)

Posted 5 Months Ago

You've created an excellent beginning. You piqued my interest with the summary, and you captured my attention with this excerpt. You're right - I don't have a choice because Mr. O'Neil won't leave me alone until I've read his story. Your portrayal of someone who is tired of life, but not suicidal, is accurate, and I've felt it several times over the course of my life. Your dialogue is great, and I feel like I understand Mr. O'Neil through his words. I like the way you wove backstory in the dialogue instead of having info dumps. I can't wait to read more. And your verbs! Your use of active voice and strong verbs truly bring the story to life and create a vivid experience.

I took off 5 points for lack of editing. I saw several grammatical errors - punctuation - that I feel could be cleaned up. A good copy editor could help with that, should you choose to pursue that.

Posted 8 Months Ago


8 Months Ago

I won't be posting more, because I released that story. But the good news is that you can read it. ;.. read more
I like what a convincing man you've created. What reeled me in was both characters making great points that I can learn from and take into my own life. I'm not much for a critique yet, so I'd like it if you'd check out some of my works and show me how it's done!

Posted 9 Months Ago

0 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Hmm, I actually really like this dilemma. I like that this is a character in a dilemma that makes me wonder how he will handle it. I like that he's old and successful. The first chapter makes me sympathize and ask with him the same question. After all has been done, what is the rest of life? I love that this chapter makes me speculate about suicide and what comes next after success.

As others have pointed out, I do love the language. It seems to be characteristic of you to really play with language.

I wish there had been more description, but it seems like it's not really necessary except that you've said this, "Deciding for the hundredth time to stop judging people by appearances, he went on." If it wasn't for that, I would take this chapter to focus only on the dialogue and thoughts of the character. Focusing on action also seems to be characteristic of your writing.

I really do love the dialogue as someone else pointed out. It made me keep reading and I would be interested to read more if I had the money.


Thanks for posting!

Posted 11 Months Ago

2 of 3 people found this review constructive.

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36 Reviews
Shelved in 6 Libraries
Added on May 5, 2016
Last Updated on May 5, 2016



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