Chapter One

Chapter One

A Chapter by ConnorDiabolus
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I'm not sure if this chapter is finished but please check it out.

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My eyes close, the light is hurting.
Becky’s on her phone. Who is she texting? It’s nine am, what could be so important at this time. I can’t even be bothered to look over her shoulder and peer at the screen. Who the hell is she texting? She’s staring down at the glass, her eyes dilating, saliva running in a thin line reaching the buttons, making them stick together. Her chin is touching her neck and I can see the fat pile up. Just stop it, “Who you texting?” 
“No one,” she snaps back at me.
I ignore her. My feet snake outwards, down the gap below the lined seating in front of us. Looking around the lecture theatre I notice the mellow green seats and the white screen falling from the ceiling waiting to be lit up. People are starting to enter the room. I can hear their chatter from a distance, it sounds alien to me. A mixture of pitch and volume, increasing and decreasing in rapid leaps. The sounds of oh and ah are repeated constantly beating against my eardrum. Thump. 
Becky’s stopped texting now and her posture starts to move towards me. I can hear her hovering, thinking of something to say. I turn and stare into her eyes. Her cheeks bubble out like a hamster, her smile is a blinding white. I notice her make-up, it appears as a layer above her skin. It doesn’t start or end but I can see the strokes of her art, the subtle darker areas, shaping her face around her skull. I’m returning her smile to hold the gaze, I can’t help but look at her beauty. Simple and cute.
“What?” she giggles back at me, I can see the cogs of narcissism moving through her mind. “You finished your evaluation yet?”
“What one?” I question.
“Great Expecs.” 
“No” I reply pulling my hand down from my desk and into my bag. My hand fumbles around until it grasps the plastic and removes the pen, “Why have you?”
“Of course, it’s in for this Friday you know?” Of course she has.
I know why I’m upset this morning. It’s not a mystery. Standing in the queue at my local shop this morning already feeling nervous, I could feel the breath of the old man behind me. He stumbles and inhales, the air moves and enters his nose. He’s surrounded by love and can’t control his mouth, an uncontrollable little groan leaves his lips. I hear it. Moving forward I look around the shop, the quite Asian man serving repeats the same “Good morning” to everyone and it starts to feel hollow. We’re cattle at the moment, waiting for the food dispenser at the end. Each purpose more important than the last.
My moment of glory is upon me. I can feel the hate behind me as they look on in envy as I approach the till. A small cab driver entered the shop previously and he’s standing just to the right of me. I presumed he was looking at the selection of gum next to the counter but then he does it. He moves like an assassin on my position and asks, “A pack of Richmond please?”
The fuckwit of a cashier turns around and starts looking for the man’s pack.
“So are you just pushing in front of me?”
The cab driver turns around and smiles. The teeth are lined up, separated by what can only be conceived as darkness. Tar sticks in the crevasses of his smile and his skin bends into lines around his smile. His short beard is grey, glistening with the plain light of the shop.
“Sorry,” His voice blasts me back. I can’t stand it, I’m stunned into silence and he leaves. I attempt to joke about it when I buy my baccy but fail. I sunk this morning, my kneecaps appear just above the floor. I waddled out of the shop and decided never to return.
The word sorry echoes around the back of my mind as the lecturer enters the theatre. Jake moves down the aisles at a speedy pace and he might as well be high-fiving the end chair people. Coming in like a boxer, the sheer power is pushed out of his chest and hits us all in our dumb, ready to learn faces. He’s grinning, I can tell by the back of his head. Becky looks on with admiration and lust. His blonde hair is shaved short at the back. Jake’s wearing a loose blue shirt with long sleeves and inconspicuous buttons that appear in the gaps of silk and as he turns around on his stage I notice how he’s carelessly forgotten to do his top two top buttons up and his red and white tie sinks below. Swaying his head to the side, he moves his fringe away from his eyes and looks at the class. Blue eyes glistening in the absent sun. I haven’t known Mr. Kirkwood for long, but I already hate him. I can tell he’s watched Educating Rita far too many times and that he’s obsessed with the preservation of his idea of unappreciated genius.
“Well then, you know the rules. I talk, you listen!” He beckons across the room, he chooses not to use the microphone and stands in the middle of his stage. Kirkwood feels the true power of controlling a hundred people without the use of technology. It’d only slow him down, “There once was a time when the land of England was empty of all native literature. A desert, sapped dry of the written word, of true heritage. The human mind on paper is the engine that drives mankind’s progress, don’t worry it’s environmentally friendly!” 
The class laughs, he pauses and then asks. “What changed?”
Everyone falls into silence. I know but I’m scared, I know beyond a doubt and yet I don’t, well not beyond a doubt at least. I look around the class at the helpless faces, he’s waiting. 
“Christianity!” I blurt out.
“Correct!” he grins and leans against the lectern. “Who said that?” My hand raises out of the crowd.
“Good morning young lady. Can you tell me why?”
“Monks began to preserve literature.”
“What’s your name?” He asks again with the same grin. I can feel my fellow students burning into my side. I can feel Rebecca biting my cheek whilst enjoying the aura around me, she presumes she’s been sucked up into it, due to proximity. I’ve begun to enjoy this sudden attention.
“Sophie Carr.” I say, intentionally including my last name. 
He says nothing and returns to the lecture. Turning on his computer, opening up a slide. The first slide includes a picture of two monks looking up at the sky. Their eyes appear teary and I notice their hands are clasped together in prayer. 
I leave the hall and walk outside. It’s winter and the cold hits my face and I stagger with pain. Campus blends in to the rest of Manchester and it’s hard to differentiate between the University owned buildings and the others and I feel lost at times. The building where my last lecture took place is brick red with a glass entrance that touches the roof. Inside is pure white with blue doors and the occasional vending machine. It’s a mixture of elegance and industry and it’s hard to criticise the money that went into the facilities here, even if it pains me to say it. Red bricks and glass are the basic format of the whole system except for some reason the art courses take place in a white dome. There’s a walkway that circles the white dome to a door on the top floor but in this weather I’m sure no one would walk up those stairs and instead, take the elevator. I notice Becky standing with someone else inside a bus shelter, a poster resides on both the outside and inside of the structure. Inside the poster holds an image of three chipmunks in Christmas jumpers commanding you to watch their latest, rushed adventure. Outside are three faces staring right at me with sunken faces and underneath it just reads ‘smile’.
Becky’s talking to a girl I’ve never met before. She has red hair with blonde streaks in the fringe. She’s wearing a purposefully torn white print T-shirt from the back of HMV with the Ramones symbol in the middle. The names Johnny, Joey, DeeDee and Tommy circle the American seal but instead of the eagle holding thirteen arrows in one claw and an olive branch in the other, the band chose to have a baseball bat and an apple tree branch. Apparently to represent Johnny’s love of baseball and to show how the band was as American as Apple pie, the ability to register her enthusiasm for the band doesn’t even cross my mind. I fight the urge to ask her if she can name five songs by the band but the moment passes and I notice her boots. Five belt buckles wrap around the raised leather above her ankles, she really doesn’t want to lose her shoes.
“Hi Sophie this is Anna.” Becky beams turning to the girl and I notice she’s purposefully made her face paler with foundation. “She’s on our course. So like you heard this is Sophie Carr, she was the one who knew the answer at the start.”
“I know I heard.” Anna smiles at me. Dead silence while I think of something to say.
“Have you done your evaluation yet?” I feel dull.
“No. Not yet, I’m half way through though. It’s such a drag to actually get the energy to just sit down and do it, don’t you think? I’m like the queen of procrastinating.” Of course.
Standing in the empty shelter I feel completely common, I can’t help it, I’m not wealthy by a long shot and it’s nothing to do with money anyway. It’s down to my desire to be separate from everything and it’s selfish, it’s foolish and I hate myself because of it. Listening to Anna and Becky commenting on each others current state of fashion I can’t help but despise the need for pointless conversation. They’re trying their best, it’s hard to actually accept what others are saying. I know everyone must be in the same position as me but my current state of mind is starting to cripple my happiness. I envy them from the outside, just talking, just getting on and making conversation.
The grey street is bustling with miserable faces bobbing up and down wandering left and right and never stopping. A middle aged man in blue, silk sweat pants, a grey hooded jumper made out of wool and a blue hat with the white Adidas symbol on the front is moving past the glass in the bus station. Arms stretched out holding on to the leads attached to his dogs, being pulled along the pavement with a fast pace and he’s looking straight at our group. His eyes move up and down Anna and Becky’s bodies and he covets them, he wants them in bed instantly without even knowing their names. He’s behind Anna, grunting and pushing his body against hers repetitively and she’s loving it, adoring every cell that forms his temple. I’m staring into his soul and can read his mind and as he looks from Becky and Anna, back and forth, he eventually notices me and moves on.
“I really like your hair Anna” injecting myself back into conversation.
“Thank you, it’s such a hassle though. It’s taken me ages to get it to this colour and I know I’m ruining my hair but I’ve stopped caring.” Anna replies with a smirk on her face. A short silence follows, “I really like your dress by the way, it’s really indie. Where did you get it?”
“Topshop I think, It cost £40 and even though it’s expensive I’m just a sucker for flowers and birds though.” We’ve all started to giggle and it’s contagious.
“Yeah, I tend to stick to darker kinds of clothes. If you get what I mean?” Anna’s hand touches the fabric of my dress and her hand hesitates long enough for me to notice, “I bought a really tight black dress yesterday for going out to clubs in. It’s strapless and I’m hoping to take it out soon, do you go out into the city much? On a night out I mean.”
“Well I haven’t been out at all since we started Uni, haven’t really had the chance, been reading too much.”
“I can guess you’re the kind of hard working girl, a bit of a nerd?” She’s laughing as she speaks until she notices my slight frown, “Don’t get me wrong, I wish I was as driven. How come you haven’t done you’re evaluation yet then?” Conversation has hit a bump as Anna has misunderstood my reading for assigned work but I’m not given time to correct the situation, “Anyway, you should definitely come out sometime soon, I’ll add you on Facebook.”
“Cheers, yeah I will come out with whoever, of course.” I add genuinely grateful for the opportunity. We keep sharing extended eye contact and I’ve started to feel good about how my day has gone, considering the cab driver in the off licence. Becky has been my only friend so far and I can see she’s started to feel secluded in the conversation and this gives me a great sensation in my stomach. There’s also the fact that I need to extend my social circle in this new city, if I’m going to survive.
The bus arrives and we get on. I tried to get on as a child as it works half the time but the grumpy waste of space driving the bus wasn’t letting it happen. Even after my slight protest. We sit on the lower deck of the bus and it moves on and we keep the same level of talk with only small moments of silence that I barely even notice. Becky Belle tells us a story of how her Dad is refusing to let her go on the University organised trip to Scotland, which was actually interesting. Her Father is a basic racist and hates the Scots. 
Anna’s stop is first to my dismay and she moves to the red button. The bell rings in every ones ears but little concern is paid by our fellow passengers. She stands up. Just before walking to the front she turns to me, as if it had been on her mind and asks, “Well, I’m going to be meeting up with a few friends tomorrow. Just hanging out and stuff like that at the pub, I think it’s called The Volgagirl and you should come Sophie Carr?” As I hesitate for just a second while I ponder this invitation, Becky looks around nervously as she hasn’t been invited personally and Anna notices with a friendly smile on her face, “You can come as well Ms. Belle!” 
We say “Yes” in unison and she leaves. The gaps in social intercourse increase when it’s just me and Rebecca on the bus and I’m happy to leave when the bus reaches my stop.
Heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez is playing in my bedroom.


© 2012 ConnorDiabolus


Author's Note

ConnorDiabolus
Please comment on:
-grammar
-dialogue
-narrative
-if it's actually interesting
-good start to the story?

My Review

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Featured Review

Thank you for sharing this chapter with the cafe community! I really have to compliment the strong voice of the main character. You can definitely feel her cynical personality and, even moreso, her lack of self confidence. This is an accomplishment because the voice takes continuous development and effort to ring true. Well done!

I would definitely proofread and pay attention to some of your word choices, as I think there are instances where a more fitting word would be available. A great rule of thumb is this: If it sounds unnatural or funny when you read it out loud, it probably sounds funny when the reader reads it. :) I try to stick with that in my own writing also!

Also, I have to admit I am not entirely certain about the use of the present tense, but I think I will have a better feel for that in another chapter or two. I originally had my novel in present tense also, but per the suggestion of a close friend I decided to make the switch to past tense. I am DEFINITELY not suggesting that you change it, but I would reread the chapter and make sure that you don't accidentally flip flop back and forth between tenses.

Finally, I was kind of surprised by how quickly your main character warmed up to Anna. When they first meet, the main character was looking her over, mentally mocking her fashion choices and "trying too hard" aura. Not even half a chapter later, she seemed to be silently thrilling at the prospect of being socially accepted by Anna, and excited to be invited to a gathering by her. I would recommend that you drag out their relationship a little more, at a slower pace... if the main character ends up warming up to Anna, that's great, but if the dynamic change is taken more slowly it will be more believable and far more interesting! I always enjoy the period of time where the character is having conflicting thoughts about someone else because their opinion of him or her is slowly starting to change!

I hope that this was helpful, and I truly look forward to the next chapter! Keep up the great work!

CFB

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I like the characters that you created and felt that they are going in the direction that you wanted them to go. It made for an interesting read except for one fact that constantly got to me.
I didn't like the present tense format. It's maybe because I haven't read as many pieces in that format but despite the fact that the piece looks interesting I couldn't bring myself to finish it because I was feeling uncomfortable with the present tense format. Maybe I may not be the right person to review this but please do ask others about what they feel about this. Thanks, and I didn't mean any offence.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Well said, friend!! And I have learned that the best way to learn to write better is by writing more! I have a long way to go myself, but I used to be quite awful! :) I look forward to talking to you soon and good luck with your classes this semester!

Cassie

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Thanks so much for the feedback. Yeah i believe the relationship with Anna does happen too fast and it can maybe be better explained. I don't think i even put it across that the main reason she's warming to Anna is basically to make Beccy feel secluded. A very manipulative character i'm trying to create here and it's hard to put across. She's such a pre-meditated person.

I really know i have to work on my basic writing skills and use of words, i'm not very well practiced and i think by actually completing this novel will push me so much further than taking a night class. I'm going to proof read my novel soon.

Thanks so much and i'll be reading the rest of your chapters or at least how many i can get through tomorrow as like you i'm a university student and the work load is ridiculous. We may be too ambitious for our own good. Talk to you soon Cassie.

Connor

Posted 8 Years Ago


Thank you for sharing this chapter with the cafe community! I really have to compliment the strong voice of the main character. You can definitely feel her cynical personality and, even moreso, her lack of self confidence. This is an accomplishment because the voice takes continuous development and effort to ring true. Well done!

I would definitely proofread and pay attention to some of your word choices, as I think there are instances where a more fitting word would be available. A great rule of thumb is this: If it sounds unnatural or funny when you read it out loud, it probably sounds funny when the reader reads it. :) I try to stick with that in my own writing also!

Also, I have to admit I am not entirely certain about the use of the present tense, but I think I will have a better feel for that in another chapter or two. I originally had my novel in present tense also, but per the suggestion of a close friend I decided to make the switch to past tense. I am DEFINITELY not suggesting that you change it, but I would reread the chapter and make sure that you don't accidentally flip flop back and forth between tenses.

Finally, I was kind of surprised by how quickly your main character warmed up to Anna. When they first meet, the main character was looking her over, mentally mocking her fashion choices and "trying too hard" aura. Not even half a chapter later, she seemed to be silently thrilling at the prospect of being socially accepted by Anna, and excited to be invited to a gathering by her. I would recommend that you drag out their relationship a little more, at a slower pace... if the main character ends up warming up to Anna, that's great, but if the dynamic change is taken more slowly it will be more believable and far more interesting! I always enjoy the period of time where the character is having conflicting thoughts about someone else because their opinion of him or her is slowly starting to change!

I hope that this was helpful, and I truly look forward to the next chapter! Keep up the great work!

CFB

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on January 3, 2012
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Tags: serial, killer, thriller, something, interesting, to, say, fiction, dark


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ConnorDiabolus
ConnorDiabolus

Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom



About
Hello. I'm a young student living in the north of England and i'm attempting, key word attempting, my first novel. I'm looking for constructive criticism and guidance and want to use the great resourc.. more..

Writing